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WestJetForLife
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Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:31 pm

Hello, everyone. Nik again with yet another interesting question which I hope will invoke debate as to SOPs regarding the use of landing lights and flashing strobe lights.

Now, from what I understand, landing and strobe lights are to be turned on when entering an active runway, to be kept on until a certain altitude (I'd imagine 10,000 ft. for landing lights and 18,000 ft/FL180 for the strobes), during landing/roll-out until exiting the runway, and are to be used also in high-traffic airspace. However, that's not what I'm curious about. I'm interested to hear about how different airline SOPs work regarding landing and strobe light operations.

Example: WestJet often use their flashing strobes during approach, but SOME WestJet aircraft rather use the white, non-flashing wingtip lights in lieu of the strobes, if you know what I'm talking about. There are also some companies that I have heard of that do not turn on the landing lights until they are cleared for ILS/visual approach, don't use their strobes during the day, do use them during the day but not at night, and other random (forgive the terminology) SOPs regarding this topic.

What are your company's SOPs regarding landing/strobe light operations? Do you follow the FAR/CARs, or does your company ask you otherwise?

I hope HAL, CosmicCruiser, AAR90 and a few other pilots can help shed some light.

Nik
I need a drink.
 
jetboy757
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:17 am

I have a question similar to this. When I tell a pilot to line up and wait on a departure only runway, and they come back with "We're not ready," or "We're waiting on numbers," I usually tell them to hold short because in my mind I think that the landing lights and strobes use a lot of power. Other controllers however tell them that it's a departure only runway and to just line up and wait and the pilots don't really have any problem with it. So I guess my question is do you really save that much power by holding short of the runway with lights off and then powering up again to enter the runway, or to just sit on the runway lined up for takeoff with all your lights on. I did have a pilot tell me a couple years ago that he didn't want to turn his lights on and that he would hold short which is why ever since then I hold planes short.
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:35 am

We use turnoff and sometimes strobes(depending on congestion) when on the runway. Landing lights on says "I'm rolling"! Ldg lights up to 10,000'; turnoff lights up to FL180. Same for descent , turnoff on at 180 ldg lights at 10,000. Strobes always on. Taxi light on when cleared to land.

Never heard of conserving power by not turning on lights unless I was down to 1 gen but then I wouldn't be taking off. For most large jets it should not be an issue.
 
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tb727
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:54 am

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 2):
Never heard of conserving power by not turning on lights unless I was down to 1 gen but then I wouldn't be taking off. For most large jets it should not be an issue.

I was told that it looks stupid/sloppy and I was shortening the life of bulbs by using them all the time. Didn't stop me. See and be seen. I always used Taxi/Landing lights and Recognition lights when installed. Even threw on the wing lights if we had them. I would gladly pay for the $50 or whatever it costs bulb if they could prove I burned it out vs being a smoking hole because someone might have been able to avoid me if I had my lights on.

I am glad to see on the big jet here I'm currently on, we use them exactly how Cosmic said, the way it should be done and taught.

We don't have strobes installed on our Boeing's but on the smaller stuff when installed, when we pulled on the runway they came on until after landing except in fog/clouds they would come off because it's super annoying.

I do as a joke tell the FE that I am saving on the electric bill if I turn my instrument/map lights down. It get's a laugh once in a while.

[Edited 2010-11-07 17:57:28]
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:49 am

The great thing about not using the landing lites until cleared for t/o is if I'm crossing the active runway and I look down the way and see a jet with his turnoff lites and taxi light on I know he's holding for me, if I see his landing lites I AIN'T crossing the runway 'cause he's rolling. Just another safety valve to prevent big problems. Works great.
yeah, I remember something about the temps inside the lite when not moving but nowadays safety is more important than a lite bulb. Go for it.
 
Mir
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:41 am

Quoting jetboy757 (Reply 1):
So I guess my question is do you really save that much power by holding short of the runway with lights off and then powering up again to enter the runway, or to just sit on the runway lined up for takeoff with all your lights on. I did have a pilot tell me a couple years ago that he didn't want to turn his lights on and that he would hold short which is why ever since then I hold planes short.

I've never heard of any sort of meaningful power savings from leaving the lights off, however there is one good reason not to have them on: the strobes can be blinding to other pilots at night, and if you've got a guy sitting on the runway with his strobes on while he waits for his numbers, the next few people in line might not be so appreciative.

-Mir
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DAL7e7
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:25 am

I don't fly for an airline or anything, but at Auburn we:
Use strobes at all times except when taxiing
Taxi light for taxi (day/night)
Landing and taxi from the time I roll on the active to the time I level off, and then back on when I start to descend
Nav lights (Red & Green tips and white tail) at night or in low visibility (or if I'm scanning for traffic and need to be seen)
Beacon on if the engine is running.

Quoting tb727 (Reply 3):
We don't have strobes installed on our Boeing's but on the smaller stuff when installed, when we pulled on the runway they came on until after landing except in fog/clouds they would come off because it's super annoying.

We're required to turn off the strobes when entering IMC due to the reflections causing disorientation in the clouds.

I treat the strobes and landing lights as "Hey, I intend to take off." lights.

War Eagle!
DAL7e7
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lowrider
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:46 am

We turn on the strobes any time we are on an open runway, and for the entire flight. Landing lights are used from entering the runway for takeoff up to 18,000. Most of our aircraft are not equipped with taxi lights, so I just use one of the landing lights for taxi at night, and the turnoff lights to alert others during the day.
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Vmcavmcg
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:52 am

Our SOPs dictate the strobes are used anytime you are on a runway or in the air. The landing lights and taxi lights are on when you are below 10,000. I use the taxi light as my "cleared for takeoff" and "cleared to land" reminder. Additionally, when we fly in Afica we use all exterior lighting on.

I have never heard anything about conserving power with respect to aircraft lighting.
If we weren't all crazy, we would go insane!
 
NW747-400
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:44 pm

Our strobes are to be switched on upon entering the runway for takeoff, and will not be switched off until clearing the runway after landing. We are also required to turn the strobes on when crossing an active runway in conditions of darkness and low visibility.

Landing lights are switched on when a takeoff clearance is received and are switched off when passing FL180. The landing lights are not turned on again until the landing gear is extended.
 
ALTF4
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:30 pm

Quoting Vmcavmcg (Reply 8):
Additionally, when we fly in Afica we use all exterior lighting on.

Sorry for the probably silly question...... but why?
The above post is my opinion. Don't like it? Don't read it.
 
flymia
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:12 pm

Quoting ALTF4 (Reply 10):
Sorry for the probably silly question...... but why?

Probably because of the terrible ATC they have there.

Quoting NW747-400 (Reply 9):
The landing lights are not turned on again until the landing gear is extended.

Why is it that lights are on until FL180 but when you decend to 180 or 10,000ft you do not turn them back on?

Quoting tb727 (Reply 3):
We don't have strobes installed on our Boeing's
Quoting westjetforlife (Thread starter):
but SOME WestJet aircraft rather use the white, non-flashing wingtip lights in lieu of the strobes

And do some airlines really not use strobes though the whole flight?? I never heard of that before. I have never been on a plane or noticed an airliner that does not have its strobe lights on when its on the runway or in the air.

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 7):
We turn on the strobes any time we are on an open runway, and for the entire flight.

I am no airline pilot but this is what I would imagine all airlines SOP would be. At least for night ops. Also I mostly fly AA and I have always noticed their landing lights go on around 10,000ft or so or at least 10-15 mins before landing.
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AAR90
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:24 pm

Quoting westjetforlife (Thread starter):
What are your company's SOPs regarding landing/strobe light operations?

AA Policy is....

1. Fixed Navigation Lights (Red, Green and White)
Night or Dusk: On
Day: May be left off at the Captain’s discretion.

2. Red Anti-Collision Beacon / Lights
Ground Operations: On when an engine is running or when
the aircraft is about to be moved or is moving.
In Flight: On at all times

3. Wing Illumination and Runway Turnoff Light
Night or Dusk Operations: On from the time the aircraft
enters the active runway (crosses the hold short line) for
takeoff until reaching FL180 and during the descent from
FL180 until clear of the active runway after landing. May be
left off at the Captain’s discretion.
Day Operations: May be left off at the Captain’s discretion.

4. Taxi Light
Night or Dusk Operations: Turn on taxi light (low) when taking
position on the runway for takeoff. Leave light on until
after takeoff. Turn on for landing no later than final approach.
Day Operations: May be left off at the Captain’s discretion.

5. Landing Lights
Turn on after takeoff clearance is received and the aircraft is
on the active runway (across the hold line). Turn off after
takeoff at the Captain’s discretion. Prior to landing, turn on at
FL180 and turn off after exiting active runway.

6. High-Intensity (Strobe) Lights
Turn on (when applicable) prior to commencing takeoff roll
and turn off (when applicable) after landing. Strobe lights
may be turned off during daylight hours when above FL180.
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Vmcavmcg
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:47 pm

Quoting ALTF4 (Reply 10):
Sorry for the probably silly question...... but why?
Quoting flymia (Reply 11):
Probably because of the terrible ATC they have there

Quite a bit of Africa has no enroute radar coverage at all. SLOP (Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures) are used and according to the ICAO IFRP all exterior lights are to be illuminated during cruise.
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tb727
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Mon Nov 08, 2010 11:15 pm

Quoting ALTF4 (Reply 10):

Sorry for the probably silly question...... but why?
Quoting Vmcavmcg (Reply 13):
Quite a bit of Africa has no enroute radar coverage at all. SLOP (Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures) are used and according to the ICAO IFRP all exterior lights are to be illuminated during cruise.

Big sky, small plane theory in Africa.

Quoting flymia (Reply 11):

And do some airlines really not use strobes though the whole flight?? I never heard of that before. I have never been on a plane or noticed an airliner that does not have its strobe lights on when its on the runway or in the air.

We only had strobes on a half of the planes I used to fly and on all the Boeing's I am on now, they either aren't installed or they are deactivated.
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WestJetForLife
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:31 am

Quoting AAR90 (Reply 12):
5. Landing Lights

I'm kind of curious as to why AA says FL180/18,000ft for landing light ops. You fly the 737-800, which have retractable landing lights on the belly forward of the landing gear, as well as fixed, non-retractable lights in the wing roots.

From what I've read, it's recommended to keep the retractable lights up and off after passing 250 KIAS due to 'excessive stress' on the retractable light hinges. Do you, as a 737-800 Captain, use only the fixed lights on the wing roots, and then turn on the retractable lights when crossing 10,000ft/250 KIAS, or the whole shebang when crossing 17,900 ft?

Nik
I need a drink.
 
AAR90
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:38 am

Quoting westjetforlife (Reply 15):
Do you, as a 737-800 Captain, use only the fixed lights on the wing roots, and then turn on the retractable lights when crossing 10,000ft/250 KIAS, or the whole shebang when crossing 17,900 ft?

For me personally, I do NOT use the retractable landing lights. If you can't see those 4 big white lights in the wing roots, you're not going to see two more nearby, but that's JMHO. As is the belief (from personal experience) that the fuselage mounted retractable lights create significant noise & vibration in the passenger cabin. My "out" is that #3 includes the statement "May be left off at the Captain’s discretion" while #5 does not specify "all" landing lights. I've been doing that way for 10+ years and no checkairman or FAA inspector has ever said a word to me about it --but heck, starting the second engine 5 seconds before setting the parking brake after push-out got a BIG "HIT" a few months ago.  
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NW747-400
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:44 am

Quoting flymia (Reply 11):
Why is it that lights are on until FL180 but when you decend to 180 or 10,000ft you do not turn them back on?

Unfortunately, I don't have a clue as to why the landing lights are not switched on earlier. I just have to abide by the company procedures. We do, however, turn the taxi lights on when descending through FL180. These are forward facing lights mounted in the wing root.
 
WestJetForLife
Topic Author
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:38 pm

Quoting AAR90 (Reply 16):

Interesting. I find WS has their retractable landing lights out during final approach during the night and in during the day. Then again, different company, different Captain, different SOPs.
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ThePinnacleKid
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:06 am

My companies policies are very similar to what AAR said about AA's...

except our strobes stay on at all times once they're on until after landing EXCEPT if it interferes with safe operation (at our discretion) (such as operating through heavy cloud layer on approach and the flashes distract, once out of the layer they're back on)

we also have an exception with the landing lights, we can turn them off if they also interfere with the safe operation... normally for us it would only be turned off during dawn/dusk/night CAT II ILS approaches... that way we can pick up the approach lights sooner... In practice, in my 4 years at my carrier.. I can think of only one time we've ever turned them off during landing and that was an early early morning dawn CAT II in fog....
"Sonny, did we land? or were we shot down?"
 
pilotpip
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:40 am

Our company has discretion for the strobes (they can be deferred). We usually wait to turn the strobes on until we are on takeoff roll at night because the 170 has super-turbo-stupid bright strobes. Great way to jack up everybody's night vision. In IMC they are at discretion. I usually leave them on because they don't bother me much.

Landing/taxi lights are turned on and off at 10,000 feet. On the descent/approach phase we are allowed to turn only the landing/taxi lights in the wing root on and many use the nose switches as reminders that we're cleared for the approach and then cleared to land.
DMI
 
faxiTMA
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:21 am

Not flying for an airline but at my flight school the SOP is something like this:

Taxiing: Taxi light ON, LDG light OFF, Strobe OFF
Entering an active runway: Taxi ON, LDG, ON Strobe, ON
"Cleared for takeoff": Taxi OFF, LDG ON Strobe ON
Climb (usually 1/2 way to cruise alt): Taxi OFF, LDG OFF, Strobe ON
Decent: Taxi OFF, LDG ON, Strobe ON
"Cleared to land": Taxi ON, LDG ON, Strobe ON
Vacating a runway: Taxi ON, LDG OFF, Storbe OFF
 
AJ
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RE: Landing/strobe Light Ops: Your Company's SOPs

Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:08 am

On the B767 at Qantas we use the lights as follows from the gate:

On the gate: Nav and Logo ON at night
Pushback/Engine Start: Red Anti-coll ON
Taxi: Taxi Light, Nose Gear Light, Runway Turnoffs, Wing Lights ON
Crossing an active runway or Lining Up: Strobes ON
Cleared for Takeoff: Wing Landing Lights ON
After Takeoff: Taxi Light, Nose Gear Light, Runway Turnoffs, Wing Lights OFF
Passing 10,000ft: Wing Landing Lights, Logo Lights OFF
Cruise in designated higher risk airspace: Logo Lights ON
Enroute Climb in designated higher risk airspace: Wing Landing Lights ON
Passing 10,000ft on descent: Wing Landing Lights, Taxi Light, Nose Gear Light, Runway Turnoffs, Wing Lights ON
Clear of the runway: Wing Landing Lights, Strobes OFF
Approaching the gate: Taxi Light, Nose Gear Light, Runway Turnoffs, Wing Lights OFF
Engines spooling down on the gate: Red Anti-coll OFF

Most of these steps were a recent change to align with FAA and ICAO guidelines.

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