The Common Types of Aircraft Navigation Lighting


With countless aircraft operating throughout the night across the globe, external lighting on aircraft is important as to provide safety to pilots and others during flight. On almost all aircraft, various types of external lighting may be implemented in order to fulfill various purposes such making the aircraft more visible to others, assisting the pilot with more visibility during critical flight phases, or to provide light for others uses. In this blog, we will provide an overview of the various types of external aircraft lighting, allowing you to better understand their use and importance.

With navigation lights, beacons, and strobe lights, aircraft visibility can be increased to prevent collision with others. Navigation lights come in the form of wingtip lighting, and a red light is placed on the left wing tip while a green light is placed on the right wing tip. To ensure that lights continue operation without fail, redundant bulbs may be placed to ensure that there is always a light shining. The beacon is another type of anticollision lighting, consisting of red flashing or rotating lights that are placed in pairs on the top and bottom of the fuselage. As a pulsating warning light, beacons are turned on slightly before the ignition of the engine, and they are turned off once the engines are shut down. Strobe lights are the last major type of aircraft visibility lighting, and they consist of bulbs that are implemented at the trailing edge of each wingtip. Shining brightly on regular intervals, strobes are typically reserved for use on the runway so that the aircraft is better seen during ground operations.

Beyond anticollission lighting that provides aircraft visibility, pilot visibility is also critical for better sight from within the cockpit. With taxi lights placed on the nose landing gear strut or wing roots, pilots can have an easier time navigating during ground maneuvering. With the addition of runway turnoff lights that are mounted at an angle from the aircraft nose, pilots can also see any obstructions that may be present at each side of the aircraft. During landing operations, landing lights shine brightly to illuminate runway surfaces, allowing pilots to better conduct landing and takeoff operations. Landing lights are often placed on the wings, landing gear strut, or fuselage, and they are activated once the pilot receives takeoff clearance or enters an active runway. Wing inspection lights are a type of wingtip lighting that allows for preflight inspections to be conducted and gives visibility during the engine start, and they are often operated on an as needed basis. Last but not least, ice detection probe lighting assists in pilot visibility during the night hours, illuminating the windshields so that they may see if any ice is accumulating.

The last major type of aircraft lighting comes in the form of specific purpose lighting, each providing their own unique uses and benefits. With logo lighting, commercial airlines can show off their company logo with mounted lights on the horizontal stabilizer’s upper surface. If the aircraft is for emergencies, such as search and rescue aircraft, high intensity searchlights may be installed to the exterior of the aircraft to make combing an area easier. The last major type of specific purpose lighting is formation lighting, which is a type often found on military aircraft. Placed on the upper surfaces of wings, such formation lights make it easier for night formations to be achieved.

Through the implementation of navigation lights, landing lights, wingtip lighting, and other forms of aircraft lighting, pilots can increase their visibility for various operations, improving the safety of both themselves and others. At Buy NSN, we can help you secure a variety of aircraft lighting types with ease, providing you with rapid lead-times and competitive pricing for your benefit. Explore our robust part catalogues at your leisure, and you may begin the purchasing process at any time by filling out and submitting a Request for Quote form.


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January 6, 2021

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