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Beacon OFF before engine start!

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Beacon OFF before engine start!

Old 21st Sep 2023, 17:24
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Beacon OFF before engine start!

Whilst taxiing to the pumps the other day i noticed a PA28 adjacent to the refuelling area with engine running and no Anti-collision light on, i signalled to him the error of his ways, and after i had shut down, he got out of his PA28, left it engine running with the student and stormed over to me saying -" see my nav lights, thats how i show my engine is running" Going on to say " you dont know who i am". !! " I'm a commercial pilot thats how we do it" !!! I informed him I flew B777's and thats definitely not how you do it.
Beacon ON before engine start is in the checklist for the aircraft he was flying, it activates the red fin beacon and the wing strobes, that is the same on all our aircraft, we always put the switch to ON before engine start.
Does anyone operate differently?

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Old 21st Sep 2023, 17:37
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Well the (4) UK airlines I have flown for all use the beacon to signify that engines are running, or are about to be started. Ditto, all the light aircraft I flew before that.

Ramp staff, certainly in the Northern hemisphere, will watch and not approach an aircraft while the beacon is still flashing, (unless they are the headset person). So I think it is pretty universal to use the beacon to signify engines running, or imminently running.

Don't know what that instructor guy was on about - sounds like he was caught out wrong but couldn't admit it in front of his student.

Do the strobes come on with the beacon in light aircraft ? I don't remember that.
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Old 21st Sep 2023, 20:58
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I thought it was dangerous for light aircraft to have `strobes`on,until at the `holding point`,as more people can be nearby,and could be`blinded`,or it could trigger `flicker vertigo` in certain cases...
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Old 21st Sep 2023, 21:11
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Really? I would rather be warned of somebody about to start engines by putting the strobes on rather than risk being struck by a propellor
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Old 21st Sep 2023, 21:28
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A decent number of PA28s have their beacon and strobes on a single switch, not all of them, but quite a few. The rest are on a split switch. The SOP for those on one switch is to use nav lights instead.

Sounds like the other pilot was rather agitated and didn't want to explain.

Running strobes on the ground close to people and aircraft can disrupt people's vision quite dramatically, especially if in low vis or at night.
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Old 21st Sep 2023, 23:28
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memories,if it has a propeller,you walk behind the aircraft,if it is a helo,you walk in front,outside the disc....
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Old 21st Sep 2023, 23:43
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I leave the tail beacon switch in the ON position all the time in my PA-28. If for no other reason it tells me I forgot to turn the master off when I park the aircraft. My PA-28 has no strobes. My other aircraft has strobes but no beacon. No lights are on when I start unless it's dark. Strobes only go on when taking the runway or when doing a runup in an area which does not have restricted access.

Anyone who does not know propellers are dangerous when turning should not be allowed near aircraft. The OP could see the engine was running so the lighting configuration should not have been of any interest and certainly none of his business. Sounds to me the other pilot was more polite than he needed to be.



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Old 22nd Sep 2023, 05:58
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Originally Posted by Hats.On.To.Fly
A decent number of PA28s have their beacon and strobes on a single switch, not all of them, but quite a few. The rest are on a split switch. The SOP for those on one switch is to use nav lights instead.

Sounds like the other pilot was rather agitated and didn't want to explain.

Running strobes on the ground close to people and aircraft can disrupt people's vision quite dramatically, especially if in low vis or at night.
Many Pipers like for example the Seminole donít even have a beacon light, just strobes.
Personally I think this is stupid, but it is nevertheless a fact. I tell students if you have a dedicated beacon switch, then yes turn it on before start. If just strobes leave them off unless crossing a runway or lining up on a runway for takeoff.

If it is dark then absolutely turn on the Nav lights as soon as you turn on the master. If it is day time I see little point on turning Nav lights on as the typical light aircraft Nav lights are so weak they are barely visible during the day
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Old 22nd Sep 2023, 08:34
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Beacon on whenever engine is running (or about to start) has been standard for as long as I've been flying. The only exception was a type that didn't have a beacon so on that one we used strobes instead. I agree that this is not ideal, they can be very blinding, but they do provide a warning.

I think that the main error here is in deviating from a set standard (the POH/SOP/checklist/etc) while instructing a student. You're basically showing your student that it's ok to ignore those documents. I would not be happy about that behaviour from an instructor.
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Old 22nd Sep 2023, 15:14
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I don't get involved with GA however in my 40 years working in on and around large commercial airliners the following applies.
Power on, APU/Ground Electrical : Nav lights on.
Aircraft about to move under tow: Beacon on.
Engines about to start and when running :Beacon on.
If the beacon is still on after engine shutdown the aircraft should not be approached unless there has been a clear visual indication that a headset man is required
Strobe lights should not be used when refuelling as they are high energy devices.
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Old 22nd Sep 2023, 18:48
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Beacon on and I still call “CLEAR” then wait a few seconds before starting an airplane or helicopter.
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Old 24th Sep 2023, 10:38
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I was more concerned with the safety of the firemen & refuellers who are always around the refuelling area often with several aeroplanes engines running with beacon and strobes on, the one with no beacon might be assumed not to be running, people have walked into propellors in the past, anything that reduces that risk should be utilised.
The aircrafts checklist must be followed, if it says beacon on before engine start then put it on, if it activates the strobes as well so be it, good luck in a court of law if anyone was injured and you hadnt followed the checklist & didnt have your beacon on if its fitted and functioning.

Last edited by memories of px; 24th Sep 2023 at 10:50.
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Old 24th Sep 2023, 14:12
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Originally Posted by memories of px
I was more concerned with the safety of the firemen & refuellers who are always around the refuelling area often with several aeroplanes engines running with beacon and strobes on, the one with no beacon might be assumed not to be running, people have walked into propellors in the past, anything that reduces that risk should be utilised.
Anyone who thinks that no beacon means engine not running should get better training. How long would these people survive around aircraft with no electrical system? Never get close to the propeller unless you have personally verified that the mags are cold or, for no electric, that you intend to swing the prop to start the engine.
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Old 24th Sep 2023, 14:30
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It's a dilemma. On of our PA28s just has a red tail strobe. I asked the menders if they'd kindly wire it into the master so I can see when I've left the master on (as above). They rather impolitely declined so it's in the aircraft specific checklist to leave it on.
The other PA28 has combined tail and wing tip strobes and I do brief the students on how it's bad for bystanders' eyes to have them on near people. Consequently it's 'on' during the vial actions at the hold and 'off' on the after-landing checklist for that particular aircraft. So I'm now confusing students who fly both aircraft with different procedures.
Add to the mix our examiner who demands to know why we're turning off the beacon with the engine running...
One solution would be to retrofit the split switch and buy a separate strobe unit for the wings but I've got other priorities for the money like an interior refurb and radios. Plus, of course, actually sourcing a switch, they're like hen's teeth. Ideally, we should do the same to both aircraft for commonality. The other solution would be to remove the wingtip strobes, undoubtedly the cheapest option.

TOO
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Old 24th Sep 2023, 17:22
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Underlining this discussion is IMO the unfortunate tendency for flight training to generate “rules” that must be mindlessly followed. Beacon lights don’t stop people from walking into props, the pilot visually clearing the area before turning the key is what does.

I think it is better for students to understand not just the “how” but the “why”. TOO gives a perfect example where 2 different procedures are required due to aircraft differences. There is no problem here and if the student is unable to figure out what to do with the lights then I would suggest they are not fit to be pilots.
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Old 24th Sep 2023, 18:22
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Why didn't the angry instructor simply explain this difference nicely to the OP, who quite reasonably pointed out what seemed to him to be an error of procedure, or a failed beacon.


Why was the instructor so nasty about it ? - we are supposed to follow and encourage CRM after all - especially airline pilots.
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Old 4th Oct 2023, 12:13
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All personal choice or ignorance.
I switch on all lights for starting including LED landing light and that stays on all through flight.
Was a time when batteries were not so good as today so any unnecessary drain might incur a non start.

Years ago our ATC went bonkers if strobes left on, because some military guy used the high intensity strobe on military aircraft as his excuse for crashing is service vehicle.

I noticed researching to make model of Concorde red strobes are fitted at the start of the wing near cockpit, don't seem bright for use in flight at 60k feet!. One assumes the engines are so noisy need to show ground crew engines running.
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Old 12th Oct 2023, 23:28
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https://regulatorylibrary.caa.co.uk/...y_aircraft.htm

so you must display lights (not necessarily a beacon) to indicate engines runnning. However nav lights serve other purposes so don’t in themselves indicate that.
However you may turn off lights which would dazzle etc

to me, that means if you CAN turn on your beacon without turning on strobes, you MUST
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