Ellsworth Air Force Base Flight Line

Ellsworth AFB Civil Engineering and Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) the Utility Energy Services Contractor (UESC) had worked toward projects for LED’s base wide for several years. A high priority was to bring LED’s to the B-1 aircraft servicing/parking locations on the airfield aprons. There were ballpark HID type spotlights servicing these areas. While these worked well and as designed, these systems were 35+ years old. Operations and maintenance was high due to the many fixtures [733 on 32 poles], 75 foot height, HID lamp relatively short life-cycle, and consistently high and gusting winds on the Black Hills plains at times shifting the light direction from the large box fixtures. The wind caused misdirection causes dark spots on the apron.

As Ellsworth AFB’s Installation Energy Manager, I worked with MDU’s project manager, Mr. Timothy (TJ) Meyer of Williston Basin Interstate Energy Midstream (WBI) to compete for an overall LED contractor. GenPro Energy Solutions a local contractor but part of a nationwide company won the competition. GenPro has installed LED’s in 265+ facilities and supplied outdoor LED’s including streetlights and parking lot lights. But the LED airport ballpark lights are highly specialized and are still new technology. So GenPro partnered with MUSCO Lighting a well-known and respected contractor for sporting and airfield lighting.

Musco led the design and installation of our LED airfield lighting. GenPro’s team provided professional engineer level designs, materials, and options. Their team stepped up the schedule when we quickly made our decisions and paved the way for them to install the LED’s almost 9 months ahead of our original expected schedule. The construction team communicated extremely well, came prepared, and executed much faster than original plans. The expedited installation was well received by the aircraft maintenance squadron who had very little interruption of their schedule and now had high performing lighting.

We now have state of the art airfield lighting. Maintenance will be done mostly on the drivers that are mounted high enough to keep non-maintainers out of the panels but low enough that work can be done easily. The final number of the sleek wind resistant fixtures were 273 reducing weight and torsion for added life of the poles and having fewer fixtures to have problems. The LED system comes with a 10 year warrantee and should last 15-20 years. The system was built with a control that when switched doubles the light output for when aircraft maintainers need more light. The professional materials, design, and installation light the airfield aprons uniformly and with great quality. We have 50% more foot-candles but visibility has increased supremely. All this and the project pays for itself with reduced maintenance and electric costs.

I can’t imagine a better team to bring the state of the art to Ellsworth AFB. I was really astounded by the adaptation, quick response, and professionalism of the team in all areas of the project. I wish I had more lights for them to install.

Ted Cleberg
28 CES/CENPE, Installation Energy Manager
28th Civil Engineering Squadron
2125 Scott Drive, Bldg 8225, Suite 1220
Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706-4711
605-385-1079, DSN 675-1079, CELL 605-393-5588

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