When to turn on landing lights?

When do I turn on the landing lights when I’m landing at an airport with a high elevation? For example: Samedan (5600ft), Cuzco (10000ft), Bogotà (8300ft)?


Always until 10,000 feet AGL.


But if I’m landing above mountains the altitude AGL can vary suddenly. For a second I can be at 9000ft AGL and then at the next second I can be at 12000ft AGL.


I usually just put them on as soon as the altimeter goes under 10,000

Go off the elevation of the airport.


Typically about 10,000ft Then you do or you can do it below

But if I’m landing at Cuzco which is over 10000ft then what?

Agreed, if you go off AGL is doesnt change no matter the elevation of airport 10,000

I always do 10,000 feet above the airports MSL

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Then use your judgement, I’d say 20,000ft MSL

I would say 10,000 ft from touchdown. So for Bogota 18,300

If an airport is at, say, 1,234 feet, then landing lights go on at 11,234 ft.

Well, you would ideally turn them off at the first point of continuously crossing terrain that is less than 10,000 feet below you, but in a situation where the airport is higher than most of the terrain you would fly over, then 10K above airfield elevation.

The FAA does says below 10000ft within 10nm of the airport in its AIM document: FAA AIM
Based on this it could be assumed either 10kft MSL or 10nm, cause when you are 10nm out AND 10000ft above groundlevel of the airport you did something more significant wrong.

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That would depend on the country/airline. In the UK at least, I am pretty sure an airline such as Ryanair turn them off below 10,000ft once they’ve taken off, I’m not sure what alt though. I think in the US, it’s a requirement by the FAA

“It is not an ICAO requirement to operate landing lights whenever you are below 10,000 FT. The mandatory aircraft lights you will see in regulations is strobe lights, nav lights and anti collision beacon lights.

It is standard operating procedure at several airlines to only turn on the landing lights when a landing clearance is received by air traffic control. This is most likely what you have observed. The landing clearance is usually given at very short final, and so crews will turn on the landing lights on very short final (unless you are in FAA territory, where multiple aircraft can be cleared to land on the same runway at the same time …)”
Quoted from aviation stack exchange forums

During daylight hours landing lights aren’t required at all.
They are used however because of the principle known as “see and be seen”.
During the day the minimum requirements for lighting are:
-Anti-collision light
-Equipment lighting
-Compartment lighting

Although it’s good practice during the day to use them it’s not essential.
During night time operations two landing lights are required as well as position/navigation lights.

Passing 10.000ft taxi lights are often turned on which aid in conspicuity in the airspace but the presence of landing lights is not essential, providing the aircraft is sufficiently illuminated and the external lighting is in line with statutory requirements.

In conditions where there is strong cloud, fog or reduced visibility sometimes landing lights can be more harmful than good.
Their intensity reflecting off cloud layers and illuminating a cockpit causing a distraction.

It is perfectly permissible to turn landing lights on when landing clearance has been issued at night and then turned off once the runway is exited.

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