Embry-Riddle Students Win FAA Design Competition in Runway Safety Category

Daytona Beach, Fla., June 21, 2010 – A team of eight students from Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus recently took first place in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions Challenge category of the 2010 FAA Design Competition for Universities with an innovative and practical approach to enhancing safety at small, non-towered general aviation airports.

The 57-page winning proposal, titled “Pilot-Controlled Alert Lighting System (Air PALS),” was submitted by Human Factors graduate students Maria Appel, Joe Crimi, Steve Dorton, Hilary Greenfield, Robert Malony, Allison Popola, Brian Potter, and Software Engineering graduate student Il Hwan Lee.

Air PALS consists of a radio control box installed in line with existing radio control boxes configured for a pilot-controlled lighting (PCL) system and existing runway edge lights. The Air PALS system is programmed to operate on the same common frequency as the PCL system. When activated by a landing pilot clicking their radio, the alert lighting system flashes, signaling the intended occupancy of the runway to all aircraft operating within eyesight of the runway.

“The team’s design submission was the culmination of four months of intense work,” said the team’s advisor, Embry-Riddle Human Factors professor Dr. Kelly Neville. “The process included research, field work, brainstorming, problem solving, designing, assessing, diagramming, documenting – and exemplary teamwork.”
For its efforts, the Embry-Riddle team will receive a $2,500 prize from the FAA and will present their work at next  month’s EAA AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh, Wis.
The annual FAA Design Competition for Universities engages undergraduate and graduate students at U.S. colleges in addressing airport operations and infrastructure issues. The competition requires students to reach out to airport operators and industry experts to advise them and help them assess the efficacy of their proposed designs/solutions. Panels of FAA, industry, and academic experts select the winning proposals. Teams with promising designs may receive FAA funding to take their concepts to the next stage of development.

The partnering organizations for this year’s competition were the American Association of Airport Executives, the Airport Consultants Council, Airports Council International – North America, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, and the University Aviation Association. These groups helped to develop competition guidelines, provided members to serve as expert advisors to the students, and assisted in proposal reviews.

The competition is administered by the FAA Office of Runway Safety and is managed by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium for the FAA. The prize-winning proposals can be viewed at the competition website:

For more information, contact Dr. Kelly Neville at (386) 226-4922 or
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, offers more than 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business, and Engineering. Embry-Riddle educates more than 34,000 students annually at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus at more than 170 campuses in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, and the Middle East, and through online learning. For more information, visit

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