View Full Version : Use of Aircraft Lights on Ground

15th Apr 2006, 18:03
I’m seeking guidance on the use of aircraft lights during ground operations, particularly when holding in position for takeoff and when released for takeoff. I have read the latest guidance in the AIM and in AC 120-74A.

First, our aircraft are equipped with the pulsating landing & recognition lights, which can be placed to the steady position as well. When cleared for or takeoff on the takeoff roll, does the activation of the pulse lights signal the same intention as the activation of the landing lights? Both the AIM and the AC recommend activating the landing lights when cleared for or on the takeoff roll as a signal to other aircraft that the aircraft is beginning it’s takeoff. I’m interested in how other airlines equipped with these pulse lights handle their operation with respect to the takeoff clearance and for ground operations.

Second, when crossing an active runway, both the AC and the AIM recommend illuminating all exterior lights. How many operators are following this practice? Would activation of the strobe lights suffice as well?

Finally, how many airline or corporate operators have adopted the lighting recommendations of AC 120-74A as their standard? Just in case you may not have the AC available, below is their recommendations:

Thanks in advance!

Rich Boll
Wichita, KS

b. Exterior Lights. To the extent possible and consistent with aircraft equipage, operating
limitations, and flightcrew procedures, pilots should illuminate exterior lights as follows:
(1) Engines Running. Turn on the rotating beacon whenever an engine is running.
(2) Taxiing. Prior to commencing taxi, turn on navigation, position, anti-collision,
and logo lights, if available. 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,
yielding, or as a consideration to other pilots or ground personnel. Strobe lights should not be
illuminated during taxi if they will adversely affect the vision of other pilots or ground personnel.
(3) Crossing a Runway. All exterior lights should be illuminated when crossing a
CAUTION: Flightcrews should consider any adverse effects to safety that
illuminating the forward facing lights will have on the vision of other pilots
or ground personnel during runway crossings.
(4) Entering the departure runway for takeoff or “position and hold.” When
entering a runway either for takeoff, or when taxiing into “position and hold,” flightcrews
should make their aircraft more conspicuous to aircraft on final behind them and to ATC
by turning on lights (except for landing lights) that highlight the aircraft’s silhouette.
Strobe lights should not be illuminated if they will adversely affect the vision of other pilots.

(5) Takeoff. Turn on landing lights when takeoff clearance is received, or when
commencing takeoff roll at an airport without an operating control tower.
NOTE: The SOP of turning on landing lights when takeoff clearance is
received is a signal to other pilots, ATC, and ground personnel that the
aircraft is moving down the runway

15th Apr 2006, 22:42
Our SOP (747 Classic) mandates strobes and wing (leading edge view) lights ON when crossing the runway or when taking the runway for Takeoff. I also use the runway turnoff lights ("taxi" lights facing about 45-60 deg to each side; we have no forward-facing taxi lights) for most ground operations, including when holding in position on the runway. Landing lights come on when cleared for takeoff.