My Flight Questions

I’ve been wondering how to use the aircraft lights. When do I turn on and off the Nav lights, strobe lights, beacon lights and landing lights?

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Nav lights come on from the moment you turn on APU at the gate until you turn APU off at your destination when parked.

Beacon lights once you disconnect all ground services and are requesting pushback, basically when you know you’re gonna start moving soon

Strobes on when crossing hold short lines and entering runways, off when you are past the hold short lines when leaving the runway

Landing lights on when cleared for takeoff, off at 10k feet, on again when descending at 10k feet and off with strobes when off the runway

This is how I use them and as far as I know it’s correct.

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nav.lights- when the APU/GPU is ON
beacon - when maneuvering
strobe - entering/crossing active rwy + in flight
landing - entering/crossing active rwy + 10k ft>

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I wouldn’t agree, Landings lights are used when cleared for takeoff

However, procedudres may vary from airline to airline.

What about landing?

Off as soon as you are done with your landing, a back taxi wouldn’t require LDG Lights. IRL you would turn on taxi lights

Landing lights are not only useful for taxi, takeoffs, and landings, but also provide a means by which airplanes can be seen at night by other pilots. Pilots are encouraged to turn on their landing lights when operating within 10 miles of an airport and below 10,000 feet .


So for all the conflicting reports here, fear not, you are probably all right depending who you ask. All that the FAA stipulates is that the aircraft has anti collision lights (beacons) and position lights (nav lights) and that you have a landing light if the aircraft is being flown for hire. Yes that’s right you can perfectly legally fly a plane at night with no landing light, not that it’s a smart thing to do though. The FAA also stipulates that the beacon is on at all times, and the nav lights are on from sunset to sunrise. That means landing light, and nav lights during the day is entirely at the pilot in command’s discretion, and airline policy. There is even a line in FAR 91.209(b) that says the PIC can turn off the beacon lights whenever they deme it in the interest of safety. The lighting policies where I fly are generally in line with what has already been said here, but within reason do what you want 🤷🏻‍♂️


I’ll just throw in my two cents to say how my flight school operates with regards to lights

NAV light - on at any point the aircraft is energized (battery on)
Strobe Light - in place of a beacon, turned on at engine start up, when entering an active runway, and during the whole flight
Taxi light (not implemented in IF) - on whenever the aircraft is in motion on the ground, and kept on when the aircraft is within an airports ATZ (aerodrome traffic zone)
Landing light - turned on when entering runway for takeoff, turned off at 400ft AGL, and turned back on after receiving landing clearance

I know many airlines have similar landing light procedures, but for them the “after takeoff checklist” (where for us is 400ft AGL) is probably different

Landing lights are not only useful for taxiing, takeoffs, and landings, but also serve as a way for aircraft to be seen at night by other pilots. Pilots are encouraged to turn on their landing lights when operating within 10 miles of an airport and below 10,000 feet. It’s important to note that flight deck and operational communications should also be sterile above 10,000 feet.

So this is how I use the lights for aircraft, but it does varies between airline…

Nav- Once the APU is on until arrive at destination until the APU is cut off and aircraft is secure.
Beacon- Ready for pushback as all ground services are disconnected and stay on until all engines are cut off at destination.
Strobes- Crossing runway and taking off and landing, also on for the whole flight.
Landing- When taking off until above 10000 ft, and then below 10000 ft until after landing

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nav lights = when mainbattery and apu is on or when you switch on master switch
beacon: when your aircraft is about move so turn it on when your about to pushback
strobe = when entering a runway
landing = when taking off it can be turned off when your over 10k but make sure you turn it on when you descend under 10k for landing

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