When to use beacon, anti-collision, strobe, logo, and navigation lights?

  • During taxi, the taxi lights are used, and I think the landing lights are required to be used up to 10.000 feet for all commercial flights.

    However, my question is regarding the abovementioned lights: beacon, anti-collision, strobe, logo, and navigation lights. When are they to be used, and when should they not be used? What is the meaning and purpose of each one?

  • Lnafziger

    Lnafziger Correct answer

    7 years ago

    The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) is a great place to look for questions like this, and has this on the subject:

    4-3-23. Use of Aircraft Lights

    a. Aircraft position lights are required to be lighted on aircraft operated on the surface and in flight from sunset to sunrise. In addition, aircraft equipped with an anti-collision light system are required to operate that light system during all types of operations (day and night). However, during any adverse meteorological conditions, the pilot-in-command may determine that the anti-collision lights should be turned off when their light output would constitute a hazard to safety (14 CFR Section 91.209). Supplementary strobe lights should be turned off on the ground when they adversely affect ground personnel or other pilots, and in flight when there are adverse reflection from clouds.

    b. An aircraft anti-collision light system can use one or more rotating beacons and/or strobe lights, be colored either red or white, and have different (higher than minimum) intensities when compared to other aircraft. Many aircraft have both a rotating beacon and a strobe light system.

    c. The FAA has a voluntary pilot safety program, Operation Lights On, to enhance the see-and-avoid concept. Pilots are encouraged to turn on their landing lights during takeoff; i.e., either after takeoff clearance has been received or when beginning takeoff roll. Pilots are further encouraged to turn on their landing lights when operating below 10,000 feet, day or night, especially when operating within 10 miles of any airport, or in conditions of reduced visibility and in areas where flocks of birds may be expected, i.e., coastal areas, lake areas, around refuse dumps, etc. Although turning on aircraft lights does enhance the see-and-avoid concept, pilots should not become complacent about keeping a sharp lookout for other aircraft. Not all aircraft are equipped with lights and some pilots may not have their lights turned on. Aircraft manufacturer's recommendations for operation of landing lights and electrical systems should be observed.

    d. Prop and jet blast forces generated by large aircraft have overturned or damaged several smaller aircraft taxiing behind them. To avoid similar results, and in the interest of preventing upsets and injuries to ground personnel from such forces, the FAA recommends that air carriers and commercial operators turn on their rotating beacons anytime their aircraft engines are in operation. General aviation pilots using rotating beacon equipped aircraft are also encouraged to participate in this program which is designed to alert others to the potential hazard. Since this is a voluntary program, exercise caution and do not rely solely on the rotating beacon as an indication that aircraft engines are in operation.

    e. Prior to commencing taxi, it is recommended to turn on navigation, position, anti­collision, and logo lights (if equipped). To signal intent to other pilots, consider turning on the taxi light when the aircraft is moving or intending to move on the ground, and turning it off when stopped or yielding to other ground traffic. Strobe lights should not be illuminated during taxi if they will adversely affect the vision of other pilots or ground personnel.

    f. At the discretion of the pilot­in­command, all exterior lights should be illuminated when taxiing on or across any runway. This increases the conspicuousness of the aircraft to controllers and other pilots approaching to land, taxiing, or crossing the runway. Pilots should comply with any equipment operating limitations and consider the effects of landing and strobe lights on other aircraft in their vicinity.

    g. When entering the departure runway for takeoff or to “line up and wait,” all lights, except for landing lights, should be illuminated to make the aircraft conspicuous to ATC and other aircraft on approach. Landing lights should be turned on when takeoff clearance is received or when commencing takeoff roll at an airport without an operating control tower.

    @Haris: Thanks, just choose the one that answers your question the best and accept it! Up-vote the others that you think are helpful as well, and that's the best that you can do.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM