Jump to content


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


Aviation History Question - Anticollision Lighting

Recommended Posts

My recent efforts with the usual 'net search methods have proven mostly fruitless, so I thought I'd ask here-


When exactly were aircraft anti-collision lights (beyond the red/green wing tip navigation lights and possibly white or red tail light) first used or mandated? If known at all, this could include different answers by civilian/military and country/region also.


What I've found so far-

In the FAR's: "Aircraft for which type certificate was applied for after April 1, 1957 to August 10, 1971: These anti-collision systems must produce a minimum of 100 effective candela in aviation Red or White, 360 degrees around the aircraft's vertical axis, 30 degrees above and below the horizontal plane." In 1971 and later amendments the requirements improve the direction and brightness of the lighting, but I haven't found any U.S. requirement prior to 1957.


According to the Whelen website, "Whelen Engineering began in 1952 when George W. Whelen developed a rotating aircraft 'anti-collision beacon.' "


According to the Honeywell website (Honeywell now owns Grimes Manufacturing, another aircraft beacon maker), "Some of the contributions we have made to aircraft lighting include the ... first anti-collision lights ... first xenon strobe ...", but no dates are given.


The reason I ask is that I have several WWII and earlier birds for flightsims with various flashing/rotating beacons and strobes and I believe that these are all anachronisms. I want to fly the most accurate representations possible, at least in simulations. The MAAM-SIM XC-47C even has physical elements of the 3D model to represent the rotating beacons. It's quite likely that other sim vintage aircraft have lighting systems modeled after modern planes rather than the way they really were. Sometimes this can be due to copying the appearance of an existing airframe that has been retrofitted, but I think it's more often due to ignorance on the part of the model designer(s). I don't blame them so much though, as info on the evolution of aircraft lighting systems just doesn't seem to be readily available.

Share this post

Link to post

I've trawled the ICAO documentation, but their archive is not very user friendly. Requirements for lights are currently in Annex 6 (to the Chicago convention). Annex 6 was first adopted by ICAO on 10 Dec 1948, becoming effective on 15 July 1949. In 13 June 1957 ICAO adopted Amendment 140 ``containing amendments to Chapter 6 covering the marking of break-in points on aircraft and the characteristics of navigation lights'' [iCAO Annex 6]


All I've been able to find so far.

John-Alan Pascoe

Share this post

Link to post
  • Tom Allensworth,
    Founder of AVSIM Online

  • Flight Simulation's Premier Resource!

    AVSIM is a free service to the flight simulation community. AVSIM is staffed completely by volunteers and all funds donated to AVSIM go directly back to supporting the community. Your donation here helps to pay our bandwidth costs, emergency funding, and other general costs that crop up from time to time. Thank you for your support!

    Click here for more information and to see all donations year to date.
  • Donation Goals

    AVSIM's 2020 Fundraising Goal

    Donate to our annual general fundraising goal. This donation keeps our doors open and providing you service 24 x 7 x 365. Your donation here helps to pay our bandwidth costs, emergency funding, and other general costs that crop up from time to time. We reset this goal every new year for the following year's goal.

    $12,200.00 of $25,000.00 Donate Now
  • Create New...