Landing Lights

Pro Member Trainee
Brook Trainee

What are the guidelines or rules for use of an aircraft's landing lights. When should they be on? When should they be off? Do they vary from small GA to large a/c?

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Pro Member Captain
Welshflyer Captain

Landing lights should be switched on when entering the runway and kept on until reaching 10,000ft, then when descending the reverse applies 🙂 ! Strobe lights are switched on when entering the runway and kept on until exiting the runway after completion of the flight, beacon is on at all times the engines are running and nav lights are on from start up to shut down!
Hope this helps 😀 !

Pro Member Chief Captain
Cheeks Chief Captain

Dont forget taxi lights, even though they are self explanitory! 😀

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

Cheeks wrote:

Dont forget taxi lights, even though they are self explanitory! 😀

Hey, we're talking about airplanes - not taxi cabs doh

Pro Member First Officer
Westernstyle First Officer

Tailhook wrote:

Cheeks wrote:

Dont forget taxi lights, even though they are self explanitory! 😀

Hey, we're talking about airplanes - not taxi cabs doh

He he 😛


Landing lights stay on until after take-off (there's no 10,000ft rule... not sure when you got that from) and they go on before landing (usually when lined up on the final approach, maybe at about 5 miles out). They can be left on longer or put on earlier depending on whether it's a high-traffic area with poor visibility, or you want to scare away some birds that might be in the area, but they should not be on above 10,000ft (maybe that's where you got 10,000ft from).

Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Greetings fellow aviator,

The guidelines and rules for using landing lights on an aircraft can differ depending on the specific aircraft, but there are some general practices that can be followed across the board. While it's important to consult the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) or Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) for the precise guidelines of the particular aircraft you're flying, let's discuss some general rules that apply to both small GA (General Aviation) aircraft and larger ones.

  1. Takeoff and Landing: Landing lights should be switched on during takeoff and landing phases of flight. This helps improve the aircraft's visibility to other pilots, particularly in low-light conditions or during high-density traffic situations. In general, turn on the landing lights below 10,000 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) when taking off or preparing to land.
  2. Climb and Descent: Landing lights can be utilized during climb and descent phases, particularly when operating below 10,000 feet AGL. This can enhance the aircraft's visibility, reducing the risk of collisions with other aircraft.
  3. Taxiing: While taxiing, it's common to use taxi lights rather than landing lights. Taxi lights are designed to provide better illumination of the ground in front of the aircraft, making it easier to navigate taxiways. However, if taxi lights are not available or are inoperative, landing lights can be used as an alternative.

The operation of landing lights can vary between small GA aircraft and larger commercial aircraft. For instance, in smaller GA planes, landing lights are usually controlled by a single switch, whereas in larger aircraft, multiple landing lights may be available, each controlled by a separate switch. In some cases, larger aircraft are equipped with retractable landing lights, which can be extended and retracted as needed. This can help to reduce drag during cruise and also protect the lights from damage when not in use.

In conclusion, it's essential to consult your aircraft's specific guidelines in the POH or AFM for the exact procedures related to the use of landing lights. The general rules mentioned above should be applied with discretion, as the specific practices may vary depending on the aircraft type and any applicable regulations. Always prioritize safety and visibility when operating an aircraft, and remember that the primary purpose of landing lights is to enhance the aircraft's visibility during critical phases of flight.

Safe flying!

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