What are the functions of external aircraft lights?

Every aircraft has several external lights. Some of them blink, while others simply glow. They come in all sorts of different colors. But what do they mean?

Lights that help pilots to see outside

Taxi Lights

These lights help the pilots safely taxi through the airport. They is needed to illuminate taxiways to help the aircraft reach either the runway or the gate.

Taxi lights are most commonly installed on the nose gear. However, it is also possible to install them on the wings.

Source: Instagram @bairkincabuk

Landing Lights

Quite hard to guess, right? The landing lights are extremely strong lights, so you can identify the aircraft from very far away. Since it is very bright and strong, it helps the pilots to see the runway during takeoff and landing. They start lighting up the runway at about 200 feet above ground.

As told before, aircraft can be easily identified thanks to the landing lights. This especially helps the ground crew and other pilots to check the incoming birds. They are often installed on the wings and underneath the fuselage.

Source: Instagram @bairkincabuk

Lights that help avoid collisions

Position or Navigation Lights

The position lights, also called navigation lights, are installed on the wing’s tips. What makes them so noticeable? Do you ever see green and red lights at night? That‘s what we are talking about.

These lights tell you the flight direction. The red one is always on the left, where the green one is on the right. This helps to check the current position and in which direction the aircraft heads.

Source: AeroSavvy.com

Beacon Lights

Beacon lights are red flashing lights on top of larger aircraft to attract others. They alert that engines are starting up, running, or shutting down. They are also used to signal the ground crew that the plane is about to move.

Source: augustamsourcing.com

Strobe lights

The strobe lights are installed close to the navigation lights and blink in white. On larger aircraft, a few are also located at the back. They signal that an aircraft is approaching or entering an active runway. However, the strobe lights can also be used for visibility in the dark.

Source: Instagram @bairkincabuk

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