Strobe light question

Yesterday I flew out of LGA. As I waited to cross runway 04, I saw other aircraft ahead of me cross. An American A321 and a Delta CRJ-200.

As the A321 crossed the runway, I noticed his strobes on. I thought they were accidentally on, but then after he cleared the runway they were turned off. The Delta CRJ however, did not turn them on. Nor did my CRJ-900.

I did not hear any conversation about the strobes on Live ATC when I was listening. So, should you do that when you cross a runway, or was it just a non-mandatory and pilot choice 👩‍✈️.


  • Will

When on an active runway your strobes need to be on


So that brings me to the question, how come only one aircraft did it?

I’m not sure but they should be on if you go onto a runway and that’s why the other aircraft (A321) would have turned them off after.


So I guess our pilots and the CRJ pilots didn’t do it? Or might it be airline regulations. Only the American Airlines did it, not Delta…
Maybe @DeerCrusher or @Heavydriver knows the excact requirements.

When on an active runway all lights should be on for aircraft visibility. Once clear an acrive runway lights your discretion.


Strobes On when entering a runway Off when exiting, also off in clouds at pilot discression.


Why do strobes go off in clouds?

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The beacon, and strobes go off in clouds because the reflection can disorient the pilot.


Strobes don’t go off in the clouds!


I always notice when I’m spotting, Pilots never turn strobes on when crossing the runway

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So only beacons go off in the clouds?

This might help:

4-3-23. Use of Aircraft Lights

a. Aircraft position lights are required to be lighted on aircraft operated on the surface and in flight from sunset to sunrise. In addition, aircraft equipped with an anti-collision light system are required to operate that light system during all types of operations (day and night). However, during any adverse meteorological conditions, the pilot-in-command may determine that the anti-collision lights should be turned off when their light output would constitute a hazard to safety (14 CFR Section 91.209). Supplementary strobe lights should be turned off on the ground when they adversely affect ground personnel or other pilots, and in flight when there are adverse reflection from clouds.

b. An aircraft anti-collision light system can use one or more rotating beacons and/or strobe lights, be colored either red or white, and have different (higher than minimum) intensities when compared to other aircraft. Many aircraft have both a rotating beacon and a strobe light system.

c. The FAA has a voluntary pilot safety program, Operation Lights On, to enhance the see-and-avoid concept. Pilots are encouraged to turn on their landing lights during takeoff; i.e., either after takeoff clearance has been received or when beginning takeoff roll. Pilots are further encouraged to turn on their landing lights when operating below 10,000 feet, day or night, especially when operating within 10 miles of any airport, or in conditions of reduced visibility and in areas where flocks of birds may be expected, i.e., coastal areas, lake areas, around refuse dumps, etc. Although turning on aircraft lights does enhance the see-and-avoid concept, pilots should not become complacent about keeping a sharp lookout for other aircraft. Not all aircraft are equipped with lights and some pilots may not have their lights turned on. Aircraft manufacturer’s recommendations for operation of landing lights and electrical systems should be observed.

d. Prop and jet blast forces generated by large aircraft have overturned or damaged several smaller aircraft taxiing behind them. To avoid similar results, and in the interest of preventing upsets and injuries to ground personnel from such forces, the FAA recommends that air carriers and commercial operators turn on their rotating beacons anytime their aircraft engines are in operation. General aviation pilots using rotating beacon equipped aircraft are also encouraged to participate in this program which is designed to alert others to the potential hazard. Since this is a voluntary program, exercise caution and do not rely solely on the rotating beacon as an indication that aircraft engines are in operation.

e. Prior to commencing taxi, it is recommended to turn on navigation, position, anti­collision, and logo lights (if equipped). To signal intent to other pilots, consider turning on the taxi light when the aircraft is moving or intending to move on the ground, and turning it off when stopped or yielding to other ground traffic. Strobe lights should not be illuminated during taxi if they will adversely affect the vision of other pilots or ground personnel.

f. At the discretion of the pilot­in­command, all exterior lights should be illuminated when taxiing on or across any runway. This increases the conspicuousness of the aircraft to controllers and other pilots approaching to land, taxiing, or crossing the runway. Pilots should comply with any equipment operating limitations and consider the effects of landing and strobe lights on other aircraft in their vicinity.

g. When entering the departure runway for takeoff or to “line up and wait,” all lights, except for landing lights, should be illuminated to make the aircraft conspicuous to ATC and other aircraft on approach. Landing lights should be turned on when takeoff clearance is received or when commencing takeoff roll at an airport without an operating control tower.

From the FAA’s FAR-AIM.


Lord… FAA regs

Strobes should only be turned off if causing disorientation in flight as they are part of the anti collision system.

Anti-collision is why they are turned on when on an active runway.


Activate your strobes ONLY when you’re cleared for take off and moving, you can enable your landing lights when tower tells you to line up and wait :). You don’t need to open every single light when you’re crossing, maybe your landing lights, that depends on what you want. I hate to see people use these lights wrong.

Brandon Sandstrom is right. The strobe lights can be blinding. So in clouds if they are turned on the pilot may only have control on the lights which can blind them and effect their scheduled flight. For more information check out Captain Joe’s videos


Well @Heavydriver is king around here as far as aviation goes, he is a wealth of knowledge. I know on the GA side you turn them off. It probably isn’t as intense in an airliner where the wings are much further aft.


Who is @Heavydriver?

@Heavydriver is @Heavydriver.


Where’d you get this information? Cus the FAA reg about two posts above yours indicates otherwise…