what lights should be on?!

KatieJ Guest


I am really confused as to which lights my aircraft should have on and when...

I know you have the nav, strobe, beacon, landing lights (x2 on the default B747), logo lights

Which lights should be on when taxing and which ones then switched off/turned off for take off? Does it change depending on the time of day?

Also, would the pilot still have the logo lights on during cruise?

Thanks a lot for anyones help!


6 Responses

Pro Member Chief Captain
liam (Liono) Chief Captain

What I tend to do is the following.

Take off

1. Before engine start I put the beacon light's on
2. Then put the strobe lights on.
3. When cleared to taxi I put the taxi lights on.
4. When I'm at the runway and cleared for take off I turn the taxi lights off and put the landing lights on.
5. I don't turn off the landing lights untill I'm over 10,000ft or FL100.

When Landing

Once I'm under 10,000ft or FL100 I turn on the landing lights and do as above but in reverse.

I believe this is a general rule for all the airlines to have the landing lights under FL100 but I could be wrong.

Hope this helps Katie J

Pro Member First Officer
michlin First Officer

I pretty much do as Liono describes except for strobe lights. I may be wrong, (please correct me) but my understanding of when strobe lights should be used is; turned on when entering runway and off when exiting. One of the real pilots here once wrote that strobes should be off when entering clouds formations because the light reflecting off the water droplets can be blinding. 😎

JasonZ Guest


I am always wondered 2 about the correct usage of the aircraft lighting, but so far no one has mentioned when the nav lights are meant to go on?



Pro Member Captain
John Hodges (originalgrunge) Captain

Navlights should be on whenever your plane is sitting at the gate with the "power on." In the big jets, that means whenever you power up the APU (you'd need payware for that step). So for the default simulator, you'd proabably be close if you were to turn them on with the battery switch.

Don Wood Guest

The comment regarding strobes is correct. They should only be turned on as you taxi onto the runway for takeoff and turned off as you turn off the runway after landing. The reason for that is they can be very disprienting to nearby taxing pilots.

Although I do not believe there is any regulation (in the US) requiring it, it is prudent to have every light you have lit after takeoff and until reaching less populated altitudes. A poster suggested 10,000 feet; however, in the few cases where I am flying an airplane capable of it, I keep them on until I reach 18,000 where all aircraft are required to be IFR and ATC provides minimum separation.

The hint about tunring off strobes as you enter clouds is also a good one. The strobe effect on the nearby clouds can induce vertigo in the pilot.

To correct one minor error, there is no such thing as flight level 100. Flight levels begin at 18,000 feet (flight level 180). Below 18,000 feet, altitude is defined in feet and, in ATC communication, called out as "One Five Thousand Feet" or whatever altitude you happen to be at.

Pro Member Captain
Bindolaf Captain

Well, let me add my own guess (well, it's things I've read)

Taxi lights: While on the ground and taxiing. Turn off at FL100 (or 10,000 ft for U.S. pilots). Turn back on when descending through FL100.

Landing lights: On when below FL100, turn off as you vacate the active runway - they can be blinding, be considerate.

Nav lights: turn on 1 hour before sunset. Keep on till 1 hour after sunrise.

Beacon: Before turning on any engine and for as long as the engines are on.

Strobe: As explained above.

Logo, wings, etc: Keep on (sunrise etc rule could apply, they're not visible during the day anyway).

One small note: In Europe Transition Altitude varies from country to country (for example it's 5000 in Germany I think) or even from airport to airport (in my native Greece for example). So yes, you can see FL070, FL 100, even FL060 🙂

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