What Are the Various Lights Used by Aircraft

Posted on December 5, 2022 linda strong aviation

Across an entire aircraft and the runways it uses, there are too many lights to count, ranging from taxi lights to runway turnoff lights, and more. For a general understanding of what they are used for, the lights on aircraft can be broken down into categories by their colors, functions, and purposes. Throughout a single flight at night, all lights may be used at least once, but at varying stages of flight. For example, taxi lights and runway turnoff lights are typically used when the airplane is on the ground, while anti-collision lights and navigation lights are a must during the whole flight. To help you better distinguish between the different types of lights used by aircraft, this blog will further explore the common groups of lights and their functions. 

Most categories of aircraft lights are named according to their functions, with seven main categories of lights being used on any aircraft. Both taxiing lights and runway turnoff lights are located on the runway, not the aircraft, and they are used to aid in on-the-ground navigation. Meanwhile, landing lights, anti-collision lights, and navigation lights are used on aircraft to aid in flight safety. The last two groups comprise wing inspection lights and logo lights, those used to illuminate certain parts of the aircraft.

It is important to remember that the taxiway is different from the runway; while the runway is the strip of ground from which the aircraft may takeoff or land, the taxiway is the path the aircraft travels to and from hangar or terminal areas to the runway. During the day, these paths are clearly visible, but at night, the lights line the centerline and edges of these paths to illuminate a clear road for the plane to follow.

Other lights are used on the ground prior to takeoff as well. For example, navigation lighting is also known as position lighting, and it is used before flight to help air traffic control (ATC) and nearby planes identify the position of the aircraft. Navigation lights include a green light on the tip of the right wing and a red light on the tip of the left wing. The rest of the navigation lights on an aircraft are white and face the rear. This color-coded system allows nearby pilots to rapidly recognize the orientation of an aircraft, both in the air, and on the ground. Additionally, logo lighting is also used during pre-flight inspection to illuminate the logo on the plane and allow for crew to properly identify the aircraft.

During takeoff and landing, all exterior lighting on the airplane is required to take visibility to the maximum; however, once in flight, only anti-collision lighting must remain on. Anti-collision lights comprise flashing and strobe lights for improving visibility and reducing on the ground collisions. While climbing to 18,000 feet, landing, taxiing, wing inspection, and logo lighting remain on to maximize airplane visibility in busy airspaces. Finally, when an airplane lands, it should be able to see the runway from 200 feet away by means of landing lights, those of which are mounted on the wings, fuselage, or landing gear.

All together, the many lights used by aircraft are vital to safe night flights. As such, it is important to procure all aircraft lighting you require from a reputable distributor like Aviation Sourcing Solutions. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we offer around the clock service, competitive pricing, and rapid lead times. Furthermore, we are proudly an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited distributor, and we adhere to a strict No China Sourcing policy. To receive a custom quote within 15 minutes or less, simply submit a Request for Quote (RFQ) for any item to begin!

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