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Strobe Lights

Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:09 pm

While spotting today, I noticed the strobes on the wings of Airbus planes actually strobe twice then pause, while Boeings strobe normally once then pause. Is this a reliable way to determine Boeings from Airbus in nighttime conditions?

Any other strobe or lighting distinctions that help determine aircraft at night?

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RE: Strobe Lights

Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:18 pm

On the 319/320/321's I know they actually have 2 strobe lights on each wing, one goes off then the next one right after that, IM pretty sure that the Boeing's just have the one strobe. The DC/MD 10's and MD 11 have one strobe on the front and one on the rear of the wing.

In response to your post, yes I would say that is a pretty good way to tell them apart in during the night. Also the landing lights between the Boeing's and buses are different.
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RE: Strobe Lights

Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:28 pm

Along the same line, I have seen L1011s with the twin rotating becons on the bottom of the fuselage and a couple nights ago I saw an L1011 with twin strobes. My first thought was maybe the individual company decides what they want on the top and bottom, rotating becons or strobes. Is that correct?
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RE: Strobe Lights

Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:35 pm

I've seen a few airliners with twin rotating beacons, the L1011's and I've even seen them on a few MD-87's

I know some of the airliners have 2 sets of nav lights on each wing, that's so if one goes out they are still legal to fly at night. Keeps the dispatch reliability up, but that's not the case for dual strobe lights because its not a night requirement. So I don't know the purpose.
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RE: Strobe Lights

Mon Jan 26, 2004 4:05 am

To answer your question, it's a fairly accurate method of identifying Airbus aircraft - that's what I use.
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RE: Strobe Lights

Tue Jan 27, 2004 12:11 am

Strobe beacons(red) are more reliable than the old rotating. Thus some operators choose to upgrade for the cost savings. They can be retro-fitted fairly easily.
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RE: Strobe Lights

Tue Jan 27, 2004 1:05 am

The DC-10/MD-11 also flash twice.
As for Airbus aircraft, there are two lights for redundancy - if one burns out, the other still serves its function.
On a related note, the two red anticollision lights on an Airbus flash both at the same time whereas they flash one at a time on older Boeing aircraft such as the 737-200/300/400/500, which render pictures with both strobes nearly impossible if you're not using a tripod.

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RE: Strobe Lights

Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:51 am


Did you read the post before yours? I said the exact same thing..
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RE: Strobe Lights

Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:56 am

Quote from UTA, "On a related note, the two red anticollision lights on an Airbus flash both at the same time", That's not entirely correct, next time you see a FedEx A300 you will notice that the anti collision lights flash independently, conversely UPS's new A300s both flash at the same time.
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RE: Strobe Lights

Tue Jan 27, 2004 4:17 am

MD-11s have two strobes on each wing pointing forward and one pointing aft, as well as one upper and one lower strobe type anti-collision light, each with it´s own power source. The different strobes are usualy triggered in sequence by a flasher timer unit in the equipment rack in the center accessory compartment. If this unit fails each strobe will work independently. Additionaly there are two Nav lights on each wing as well as two formation lights each wing.

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RE: Strobe Lights

Tue Jan 27, 2004 12:49 pm

You are missing the major advantage of these strobe units.

On Airbus and MD-11 aircraft forward facing stobes double flash, rear facing strobes single flash.

Even over Afganistan in the middle of the night you can tell whether traffic is coming towards you or same direction long before the navigation lights are visible. Double flashes = coming towards you, Single flash = same direction.

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