Night Mapping of Airfield Lights and Signs at Detroit Metro Airport

In 2018, Geopro was asked to perform an inventory of airfield lights and signs at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), the nineteenth busiest airport in the United States. The project presented unique challenges, since DTW has six runways and thousands of lights, many of which are embedded in the airfield pavement, and difficult to see in traditional imagery.

Undaunted, Geopro developed an innovative approach to mapping the features, using both traditional “day-light” imagery, as well as night-time “low-light imagery.” By coordinating closely with the air traffic control tower, Geopro scheduled nighttime acquisition with airfield lights turned to maximum brightness. The low-light imagery enabled detection of in pavement lights, and also a determination of light colors.

Geopro photogrammetrists used this innovative approach to map the locations of over 10,000 airport lights and signs with a horizontal accuracy of 3 inches. The project was a tremendous success and was even featured in the April 2019 issue of XYHt magazine.