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Lights On Planes...?  
User currently offlinePizzaandplanes From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3408 times:

During the night planes obviously have to turn on their annoying flashing lights for safety. Why are the lights different colors and what do they represent? I know that red lights at night usually have to do with preserving night vision. Is their any particular reason why the lights are what they are?

36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineFuturecaptain From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3397 times:

Red on left wing. Green on right wing. White in the tail. It lets you tell which direction other aircraft are flying in relation to you at night. If you see red and white you are seeing the left wing only and the plane is crossing your path from right to left. And vice versa for green.

User currently offlineAogdesk From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 935 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3395 times:

Hhhmmmm...I've never found any aircraft lights to be annoying, unless of course someone flips the switch of a 600W landing light at the exact moment I peer into it from 12 inches away....... Wink

Are you speaking of exterior lights or interior?

Red lights associated with preserving night vision would only be those in the cockpit, and they're used sparingly. Any exterior lights would be white (landing/taxi/turnoff/wing inspection/etc) with exception of the rotating/strobe beacons (top & bottom of fuselage, and the wingtip nav/position lights, which are red on the left side of the airplane, green on the right.


User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 3, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3381 times:

Red - port
Green - starboard
White - aft

All come from ships. Been that way for a very long time.



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3342 times:

To add to everyone's responses above:

Required by law: "Rotating" (and/or electronically pulsated) anticollision beacon, red in color
Optional (I think it's now required, but on the older birds that I tend to fly, it's not required as per grandfathering): white strobes on the wingtips. These are usually turned off on the ground, as they are hell for nightvision for other pilots... However, they are quite a bit more visible during daylight than the anticollision beacon. If the plane is equipped with them, I will operate them from the time I take the runway until I turn off the runway, it goes a long way towards "see and bee seen." They can also be legally turned off in the clouds, as operating strobes in the clouds can be quite disorienting.

Also: landing lights (required by law for a night landing on airliners, optional for non-commercial operations). The very bright, forward-looking white lights that you see when the plane is lined up for the runway.
taxi lights: landing lights are usually turned off once the plane is off of the runway (to avoid blinding other pilots at night), and the taxi lights are turned on. These are aimed downward, so the flight crew can see the ground/pavement markings ahead, and not blind other flight crews  Wink



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineBok269 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 2104 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3336 times:

Is the purpose of the beacons so that pilots don't mistake them for fixed points (buildings, stars, etc.)?


"Reality is wrong, dreams are for real." -Tupac
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17186 posts, RR: 66
Reply 6, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3309 times:

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Red - port
Green - starboard
White - aft

All come from ships. Been that way for a very long time.

Indeed. Just like knots and pilots and captains and fathoms (err... not that one) and pursers and stewards/stewardesses and first officers and engineers and navigators and cruise and sink and...

Quoting Bok269 (Reply 5):
Is the purpose of the beacons so that pilots don't mistake them for fixed points (buildings, stars, etc.)?

Intersting idea. But don't mast lights also blink?



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3305 times:

Quoting Bok269 (Reply 5):
Is the purpose of the beacons so that pilots don't mistake them for fixed points (buildings, stars, etc.)?

That might be part of it, but the fact that it's called the "Anticollision" beacon should tell you it's real purpose in life  Wink



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 8, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3304 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 7):
but the fact that it's called the "Anticollision" beacon should tell you it's real purpose in life

I was once sitting up front on a ground stop when a passenger stuck his head in the cockpit and looked around. Spotting the rotating beacon switch (labeled ANTICOLLISION) he said: "Dont forget that switch when we take off!" Sensing that he was okay with stuff like this I replied that it was more of a postulate than a guarantee.

edit: BTW the only one I know for sure actually prevented a collision was the logo light. I was able to pick up another plane over the city of Los Angeles because the logo light made the vertical fin look like a huge sail flying across town. Sometimes lights, especially flashing lights don't give you a lot of positional information in one shot. I was staring at a rotating beacon down near Seal Beach one night, trying to get a clear picture of which way it was headed when suddenly I was looking at RIVETS!!

Best thing lights can do is enhance situational awareness.

[Edited 2007-08-28 02:08:23]


Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2577 posts, RR: 25
Reply 9, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3267 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
Indeed. Just like knots and pilots and captains and fathoms (err... not that one) and pursers and stewards/stewardesses and first officers and engineers and navigators and cruise and sink and...

.... cockpits and nautical style uniforms.



The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3152 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3261 times:

The red flashing beacons are on any time the engines are turning or the plane is being moved, under its own power or towed. When taxiing the taxi light is on too. The strobes are on any time the aircraft is on an active runway or in flight. We also turn on all exterior lights (landing, taxi, recognition) below 10,000.

These are pretty standard rules but may vary according to individual companies' Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Our SOP states we do this day or night.



DMI
User currently offlineBok269 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 2104 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3247 times:

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 9):
.... cockpits and nautical style uniforms.

And the Captain/FO/SO is a remnant from the seaplane days. Don't forget the galley as well.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
But don't mast lights also blink?

Im pretty sure they are just constant, but I could be wrong.

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 7):

That might be part of it, but the fact that it's called the "Anticollision" beacon should tell you it's real purpose in life

I was thinking that if my hypothesis was correct, it would help avoid collision. lets say you have two planes coming at eachother. Maybe one plane sees another plane as only one fixed point on thehorizon. They may mistake it for a star or a building (bare with me). The flashing light would allow them to see that it is a plane. That may be a bit of a stretch, but that was my train of thought.

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 8):
I was once sitting up front on a ground stop when a passenger stuck his head in the cockpit and looked around. Spotting the rotating beacon switch (labeled ANTICOLLISION) he said: "Dont forget that switch when we take off!" Sensing that he was okay with stuff like this I replied that it was more of a postulate than a guarantee.

Amazing that some pax simply think they have to tell the pilots that. It reminded me of a story I was reading on another site where a pax had the nerve to tell a Captain that he was going to report him to the FAA because his watch told him they spent the entire flight at 8000 feet and they were going faster than 250 knots. The Captain directed him to the FAA examiner who was riding in the jumpseat during the flight.



"Reality is wrong, dreams are for real." -Tupac
User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3152 posts, RR: 10
Reply 12, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3235 times:

Quoting Bok269 (Reply 11):

Amazing that some pax simply think they have to tell the pilots that. It reminded me of a story I was reading on another site where a pax had the nerve to tell a Captain that he was going to report him to the FAA because his watch told him they spent the entire flight at 8000 feet and they were going faster than 250 knots. The Captain directed him to the FAA examiner who was riding in the jumpseat during the flight.

Thank God we have that door!



DMI
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17186 posts, RR: 66
Reply 13, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 3216 times:

Quoting Bok269 (Reply 11):
It reminded me of a story I was reading on another site where a pax had the nerve to tell a Captain that he was going to report him to the FAA because his watch told him they spent the entire flight at 8000 feet and they were going faster than 250 knots. The Captain directed him to the FAA examiner who was riding in the jumpseat during the flight.

Guess the pressurization system was working then.  Wink



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 3216 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Red - port
Green - starboard
White - aft

All come from ships. Been that way for a very long time.

Indeed. Just like knots and pilots and captains and fathoms (err... not that one) and pursers and stewards/stewardesses and first officers and engineers and navigators and cruise and sink and...

And yet, in a plane, it's the lav or the can, and not the head
 eyebrow 



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offline57AZ From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2563 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 3188 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
Intersting idea. But don't mast lights also blink?

They do not. Mast head lights are required to be fixed white lights. The only ships that were routinely fitted with flashing lamps on their masts were the lightships.



"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
User currently offlineTdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 16, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 3181 times:

Quoting Bok269 (Reply 11):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
But don't mast lights also blink?

Im pretty sure they are just constant, but I could be wrong.

When you said "mast" I thought of radio towers, not ship masts. As I recall, radio towers have a fixed red light at the tip and flashing reds along the length.

Tom.


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31712 posts, RR: 56
Reply 17, posted (7 years 4 months 3 days ago) and read 3159 times:

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 10):
The red flashing beacons are on any time the engines are turning or the plane is being moved, under its own power or towed.

During Mx we use it if we want no one around the Aircraft.eg during a Grd pressurisation check.

regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17186 posts, RR: 66
Reply 18, posted (7 years 4 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 3129 times:

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 15):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
Intersting idea. But don't mast lights also blink?

They do not. Mast head lights are required to be fixed white lights. The only ships that were routinely fitted with flashing lamps on their masts were the lightships.

Sorry I meant radio towers. I am pretty sure radio tower lights blink in Sweden. But I may be wrong.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineBritJap From Japan, joined Aug 2006, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (7 years 4 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3077 times:

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Red - port
Green - starboard
White - aft

All come from ships. Been that way for a very long time.

This is true but I believe that the difference is that on ships, starboard is blue and not green.


User currently offlinePizzaandplanes From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (7 years 4 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3069 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 18):

Sorry I meant radio towers. I am pretty sure radio tower lights blink in Sweden. But I may be wrong.

All tall buildings in the NYC area have blinking red lights at their highest points because the law requires it. Therefore, the only way you could tell the difference is by the starboard and aft lights on a plane.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (7 years 4 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3037 times:

Quoting Pizzaandplanes (Reply 20):
All tall buildings in the NYC area have blinking red lights at their highest points because the law requires it. Therefore, the only way you could tell the difference is by the starboard and aft lights on a plane.

However, aircraft position lights follow nautical tradition (i.e. boats have the same lighting system), which is at least a century older...  Wink



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 22, posted (7 years 4 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3032 times:

Quoting BritJap (Reply 19):
starboard is blue and not green

Absolutely not. Google it.
Green - starboard.



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17186 posts, RR: 66
Reply 23, posted (7 years 4 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3017 times:

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 22):
Quoting BritJap (Reply 19):
starboard is blue and not green

Absolutely not. Google it.
Green - starboard.

I'm going to go with Captain Click on this one. Green on ships and planes. See here: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/electronics/q0263.shtml. BTW the diagram on that page is quite useful for visualizing the various lights and their effects.

[Edited 2007-08-28 19:56:32]


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 24, posted (7 years 4 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3008 times:

Quoting BritJap (Reply 19):
starboard is blue

This website is kinda clever:
http://fmg-www.cs.ucla.edu/geoff/mnemonics.html



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
25 Post contains images MD11Engineer : Try calling the hosties galley slaves then! Jan
26 SlamClick : The ex-flight attendant I am married to finds "scullery maids" offensive enough.
27 Don81603 : They were green when I was in the navy. Also, the green light must be visible from dead ahead, to 135 degrees to the right. the red must be visible f
28 Post contains images Starlionblue : Lol. She probably doesn't like it because it's not really a naval term. Perhaps she would prefer "wench"? The driving rain?
29 SlamClick : I believe that the omnivisible white is a relatively recent change, last hundred years or so, and apllicable to power vessels only. I could be wrong
30 LASOctoberB6 : what are the lights on the wings (halfway to the wingtips) on the A320 for?
31 Post contains images Flyf15 : The CRJ has 27 external lights... 4 Landing lights (one each wing root, 2 in the nose) 2 Taxi lights (one each wing root) 2 Strobe lights (one each wi
32 Flyf15 : Until you're about in your flare, they don't really do much for you. Until then, they are just there to make you as visible as possible to everyone a
33 Tdscanuck : The ground. There are known issues with depth perception on runway lights in the dark. Tom.
34 57AZ : Basically, on a ship/vessel all lights are fixed-non flashing. The only exception I can think of are submarines that are traveling on the surface. In
35 Starlionblue : Pointing forward? Landing lights?
36 SEPilot : Actually, I believe that no lights are required by law if the aircraft does not have an electrical system, which I think is still legal. Of course it
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