View Full Version : Lights off approaching stand

piston broke
30th Jul 2001, 22:14
I'm much puzzled by the almost fanatical insistance most, if not all, Captains have for switching all forward facing white lights off approaching stand. Why?

It seems that most think these may cause "discomfort" or " dazzling" to the groundcrew, which seems rather far-fetched to me. After all, we can hardly see anything in our landing or taxi lights as they are so dim, far weaker than most car headlights. I accept that a noseleg mounted taxi light might dazzle, but wing mounted lights? Surely not!

I thought that those white lights were an indication to everyone that an aircraft was moving, and were not switched off until it stops (military). Never noticed the ground crew bothering to switch off the full beam lights on their vans that so frequently point at us as we taxi on stand. Whats the difference?

Are we being too sensitive?

Morse Code
30th Jul 2001, 22:58
Piston Broke........

.......car head lights. Ever try marshalling a big jet in with her lights on, wing or nosewheel mounted you'll notice the difference.

MC :)

30th Jul 2001, 23:11
The difference is that from the flight deck you are somewhat distant from the source of light, only see the reflected light, & not all of the light is reflected.

The intensity of proportion of reflected light reduces as a function of the cube of the distance ie approx 2 x the distance to the reflecting object.

Marshallers receive the direct rays, at some distance less than most of the reflecting objects seen by the pilot.

As for brightness less than car headlights? Landing lights/taxi lights I've run across ranged from 100W to 150W.

Most cars have approx 2x60 or 80W on high beam, with the occassional vehicle fitted with a couple of extra 100W driving lights.

Bally Heck
31st Jul 2001, 01:13
Might as well leave the radar on too. Or would that result in a marshaller shortage in 20 years? :D

The beacon is the indication that the aircraft is live. Fat lot of good that does sometimes.

31st Jul 2001, 02:52
You do not sound very experienced, perhaps you should go down and do a pre-flight walkround, if you are allowed, and have your Captain turn the lights on while you are there. You would then get the message. You complain of ramp trucks, with a 100watt light blinding you, so go back to your company manuals, or ask a mechanic, how many watts your lights produce?
That would give you the answer.
The beacon is on to show that the engines are running or are about to start, the taxi lights are used to show that you are under way and all the lights are used to show that you are on the runway and rolling. It is an ICAO recomendation. And of course you turn the taxi lights off just as you do the final turn onto your stand as a courtesy to the marshallers etc.

Transition Layer
31st Jul 2001, 04:58
Piston Broke,

You should try marshalling an aircraft with it's lights on - either nosewheel lights or wing mounted lights!!! It makes your job near impossible, especially on a wet night with the light reflecting off the tarmac. The company I work for usually turn taxi lights off when making the final turn onto the apron from the taxiway. If you need the taxi light on in a well-lit apron area, perhaps you shouldn't be flying!


31st Jul 2001, 05:43
Some of the landing lights that I have had to change have been as high as 600 watts, with taxi lights to about 150 Watts. This combination on a wet ,dark night, will leave the marshaller unable to see his own wrists let alone where the aircraft is.

Just think how you feel driving down a dark wet road, and the approaching car doesnt dip his lights. Uncomfortable no??? Nwo add a couple of sets of driving lights as well (the kind that melt tar at two miles, and cook Roos at one mile). Thats what it is like on the ground, so please spare a thought for us.

31st Jul 2001, 12:22
I watched a taxi beside a marshaller, and had the 'luck' to SEE :cool: an aircraft taxi in with his NOSE Taxi light and the Runway Turn-off lights ON. The marshaller complained and I said, make him to stop. He did, the aircraft stopped, we covered our eyes (signalling the Capt), he turned his nose lights off. A minute to recuperate and all was safe. Capt apologised to the marshaller (good CRM).
Now, what about leaving the Runway turnoff lights ON, and switching the Nose Taxi light OFF, while entering the bay until engine shutdown? It does help illuminate the side-lanes on a 'darkish' ramp, and keep ground handling vehicles away.
These days, most 'modern' and 3rd world airports have 'electronic marshalling', but yes, it does hurt the eyes, more than a 'high beam' on the road. :cool:

1st Aug 2001, 00:33

1st Aug 2001, 08:50
we had an incident where the capt. flashes his taxy light to attract the ground crew's attention and one of them got 'blinded' and had to be hospitalised!! and thats only the taxi light, imagine someone standing infront of the landing lights...

1st Aug 2001, 09:44
It's been a few years since I marshalled an aircraft but I believe the principle is still the same. Aircraft taxi independently along the clear taxiway areas. When entering an area with moveable obstructions such as ground equipment and vehicles, taxying is done under the guidance of a marshaller. The marshaller is better positioned to judge obstacle clearances than the aircraft crew. Shining bright lights in the marshaller's face leaves him unable to see the obstacles let alone the clearances.

A marshaller blinded by taxi lights has an obligation to signal the aircraft to stop and not allow it proceed until such time as he can properly see the whole aircraft and all potential obstacles. If he doesn't then he may be held responsible for the consequences. On the other hand a pilot who ignores the marshaller is responsible for the outcome. In reality though we are supposed to be a team, working together to ensure flight safety from start to finish of every flight. Or has CRM finally eliminated aircrew confidence in the groundcrew?

Somewhere out there is an ex-Vulcan pilot who ignored my stop signal and buried his left main three feet deep in the Lincolnshire soil. He spent the rest of the night with a spade in his hand digging the b*gger out again, after a wise old Group Captain told him "You put it in there, now get it out!" I bet he's never ignored another marshaller since then... :p

Through difficulties to the cinema

Transition Layer
1st Aug 2001, 12:49

I hope some of the pilot's from my co. that ignore my hand signals are reading this right now. Funny how those that watch your signals are almost always the ones that end up with the nose in the keyhole ;)


2nd Aug 2001, 03:04
What is the correct signal laid down in aviation law for...."Your lights are blinding me I can nolonger safely direct you?"

Manual Start
2nd Aug 2001, 09:07
I must say that in all fairness the majority of pilots practice good airmanship and consideration with the lights. There are the very few who do not. In this case you have two choices.
1-Put your wands down and walk away
2-(not professional, but has been done) Throw the wands at the windscreen and walk away.

2nd Aug 2001, 09:57
The right answer of course, is to wave the hands/bats/wands from side to side across each other above the head. A recognised alternative is to place the hands over the eyes, go into a crouch and curl up with the head between the knees. :D

Just a thought, but those naval aviators flying from mobile runways out in the ocean receive marshalling signals while they're still airborne. In this case it IS permissible to leave the landing lights on while being marshalled. The majority of them DO pay close attention to the signals though...

Through difficulties to the cinema

[ 02 August 2001: Message edited by: Blacksheep ]

2nd Aug 2001, 12:21
Agree with all before, I cannot believe that a pilot would even question why? Obviously never marshalled an aircraft.

Apart from the fact of making it next to impossible for the marshaller, everywhere I have marshalled aircraft, it is accepted that the turning off of all the white lights, that is down to just nav lights and beacons, is a signal to the marshaller that the crew are in fact following him. Leaving them on means you are NOT following him/her?