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YorkiesWorld

Correctly Using Lights On Ground and In Air?

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Hi guys,

 

I'm just wondering about using the lights on the 777-200 whilst on the ground and whilst in the air.

 

I know the taxi lights should obviously be used during taxi, and that the landing lights should be used when taking off and landing etc... but it's more the other lights such as the Strobes, Wing, Nav, Beacon and the Runway Turnoff lights I'm interested in....

 

When exactly do you use these lights when in the air and on the ground?

 

Could anyone give me a brief description of when they are all used? I've had a read or two through the PMDG manuals but I'm a little confused....

 

Cheers!

-YorkiesWorld

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Hi,

 

Nav lights: ON whenever the aircraft is powered from an electric source (GPU, APU, gens...).

Beacon: Switch ON before the pushback and engines start, switch OFF after engines stop.

Strobe: Switch ON before entering the runway for takeoff, switch OFF after vacating the runway after landing.

Runway turnoff lights: Usually same as taxi lights. However, they can remain off on daylight at pilot's discretion.

Wing lights: I guess it is as per company's SOP as there is no legal requirement to my knowledge.

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Could anyone give me a brief description of when they are all used? I've had a read or two through the PMDG manuals but I'm a little confused....

Full real names - first and last - in the forum, please.

 

The reason they aren't explicitly stated in the manual is that it's up to crew discretion, or usually, company SOP.

 

The basics are the following (none of these are rules - simply popular practices):

NAV - any time the aircraft has power

LOGO - as above when on the ground, at night - off when above 10,000 (can aid visibility to other aircraft when on - not just advertising at night)

BEACON - any time the aircraft presents a hazard (engine on, or soon to be; if the plane is pressurized, etc.)

TAXI - on any time the aircraft is moving on the ground, off when still; also used as a memory aid for "cleared to land" (turn on when cleared)

STROBE - on when entering runway, off when exiting (also: off at any time the flashing is distracting to the crew or potentially other aircraft - when in fog, etc.)

LAND - on when cleared for takeoff, through 10,000; on again passing through 10,000, until exiting the runway

RUNWAY TURNOFF - follows landing lights

WING INSP - as above (for visibility to other aircraft), or any time the crew needs to inspect the wings for ice (usually reported by the FAs if the lights are turned on and they're prompted to look when in the air)

 

Various other lights can be used at the crew's discretion, and are usually obviously labeled. WHEEL WELL lights on a 73, for example, are used to inspect the gear bays on the ground.

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To add just a bit to the comprehensive answer above, the details of lighting usage requirements and 'pracices' vary in between the countries and even stations. Especially:

 

BEACON - any time the aircraft presents a hazard (engine on, or soon to be; if the plane is pressurized, etc.)

 

On certain stations, the beacon is used as much as anything as a signal to ground traffic to warn about airplane having engines running and/or about impending movement. On those airports, it may be generally appreciated that the beacon normally comes on as a last thing just before push or engine start, and off as the first thing after the cutoffs have been verified.

 

--

Arto Karhu

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On certain stations, the beacon is used as much as anything as a signal to ground traffic to warn about airplane having engines running and/or about impending movement. On those airports, it may be generally appreciated that the beacon normally comes on as a last thing just before push or engine start, and off as the first thing after the cutoffs have been verified.

 

That's pretty much directly in line with what I was saying above, honestly. The aircraft only really becomes a hazard when the main cabin door is closed and the engines are about to be started, and ceases to be a hazard upon arrival when the engines are shut off.

 

As a former rampie, being told "never approach the aircraft until the beacon is turned off" over and over again, I totally understand where you're coming from though.

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That's pretty much directly in line with what I was saying above, honestly. The aircraft only really becomes a hazard when the main cabin door is closed and the engines are about to be started, and ceases to be a hazard upon arrival when the engines are shut off.

 

As a former rampie, being told "never approach the aircraft until the beacon is turned off" over and over again, I totally understand where you're coming from though.

I can second what Kyle said here. Having been working with all kinds of commercial/business/GA aircraft for over 20 years, I can confirm that the beacon (anti-collision lights) is used to warn any ground crew that either something is about to happen, or already is, that can be dangerous to anyone in the vicinity of the aircraft.

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That's pretty much directly in line with what I was saying above, honestly. The aircraft only really becomes a hazard when the main cabin door is closed and the engines are about to be started, and ceases to be a hazard upon arrival when the engines are shut off.

 

As a former rampie, being told "never approach the aircraft until the beacon is turned off" over and over again, I totally understand where you're coming from though.

 

Yes, never questioned that, or anything else. :) My addition was purely to emphasize that in some stations, may one say, "unnecessary" use of beacons may be annoying as it is visually somewhat involving to discern an airplane just taxied in or being ready for push, from an airplane being just towed in as an example. The last one being different in that it can be safely passed by from behind.

 

Very often it is also necessary to approach an aircraft with beacons on - a common example is a case of removing the chocks in case they are firmly stuck under the tire. Another case would be if it is needed to chock an airplane with running engines, or do some checks under one.

 

Again, not questioning anything, but just throwing in some thoughts. The beacon light is actually maybe the most complicated one in that sense the subtle 'habits' and expectations on its usage vary greatly - of course, if one is not familiar with the local customary ways, the company standard should be followed, and eventual friendly feedback expected. :)

 

--

Arto Karhu

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I am in the habit of flipping on the beacon when I start the APU, usually about 5 min before pushback. The logic being that now the aircraft has a "hazard" of sorts, is this in conflict with what the ramp rats are expecting?

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My addition was purely to emphasize that in some stations, may one say, "unnecessary" use of beacons may be annoying as it is visually somewhat involving to discern an airplane just taxied in or being ready for push, from an airplane being just towed in as an example. The last one being different in that it can be safely passed by from behind.

Definitely.

Very often it is also necessary to approach an aircraft with beacons on - a common example is a case of removing the chocks in case they are firmly stuck under the tire. Another case would be if it is needed to chock an airplane with running engines, or do some checks under one.

Yeah, I always hated it when ramp classes used the "never approach the aircraft until the beacon is turned off" line, because it was always followed by "except when [...]."

 

To me, it was better to say "use caution when approaching an aircraft with its beacon on, and here's why: [...]."

 

You mentioned a couple - chocks and checks - but GPU plugs/pulls (particularly if the APU GEN is INOP), high pressure air cart use, while pushing the aircraft (LEKTRO tugs for RJs get pretty darn close to an aircraft), are definitely others as well. All that in mind, you'd think they'd just use the latter version...oh well. Semantics, I guess...

Again, not questioning anything, but just throwing in some thoughts. The beacon light is actually maybe the most complicated one in that sense the subtle 'habits' and expectations on its usage vary greatly - of course, if one is not familiar with the local customary ways, the company standard should be followed, and eventual friendly feedback expected. :)

Definitely. I kinda laugh at myself for jumping to switch the beacon off when in the sim, because there's no actual ramp crew out there waiting for that thing to turn off.

I am in the habit of flipping on the beacon when I start the APU, usually about 5 min before pushback. The logic being that now the aircraft has a "hazard" of sorts, is this in conflict with what the ramp rats are expecting?

Yep. The 737 and 777 APUs are both well out of the way of being a ramp hazard. A CRJ is more of a hazard, in theory (the APU exhaust is enough to dry wet pavement on a rainy day - see below), but even then: no beacon.

 

Generally, at the airlines I worked for, the beacon came on when the main cabin door closed. At that point, the aircraft could be pressurized at a different level than ambient, and someone trying to open the door at the last minute for some reason (last minute passenger, paperwork, etc.) could get a nice blowback (blown out of proportion in ramp classes, but enough to startle someone, and/or put them off balance - a danger if using stairs). Soon after, the engines start, which is a different hazard, obviously.

 

DSCN1119.JPG

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I noticed on many videos use of strobes when crossing any runway - just curious if anyone can share policies / procedures they have seen.

 

Thx

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I noticed on many videos use of strobes when crossing any runway - just curious if anyone can share policies / procedures they have seen.

 

I don't usually turn off my strobes (and other "in the air" lights) until I've crossed the last runway between me and where I'm parking. I want to be as visible as possible, just in case. As an example, when landing at EWR, you usually land on the "outside" runway, while departures take off on the "inside" runway (land 4R, depart 4L; land 22L, depart 22R). This means that, after landing, you're crossing an active runway. Say I got a crossing instruction at night, but a departure got a clearance to take off as well, just by some random chance blunder. My flashing strobes down range from the departure might prompt the crew to question the controller, or hold position for a moment.

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Nice to have clarification on the lights, and a lot of usage of the lights is down to Pilot discretion and company SOP.

 

Dont know where I read but Strobes of above FL18??? or is that a myth?

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Thanks to everyone who has answered! I'm literally learning everything I possibly can about the do's and dont's, and different procedures etc... Its great to know we have some commercial members here with real world experience - I'd love to get in the cockpit one day and fly for real! :D

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Dont know where I read but Strobes of above FL18??? or is that a myth?

 

Myth:

  • The only regulatory operational requirement (FAA) is: "lighted position lights" (commonly interpreted as "nav lights") in use from "sunset" to "sunrise"

    (This is one of the contributors to the confusion of what the FAA defines "night" as)

  • The other regulatory requirement (FAA) is: "must have an electric landing light," with no reference to when it must be used

Like a lot of the odd stuff you'll find in the sim community, someone usually finds some random airline that has an SOP to do something a little against an industry standard, and then claims it's a regulation. This is usually because they don't understand the information they found, or the person who told them gave them the impression it's a requirement (not to burst bubbles here, but not all pilots know everything about flying/aviation; just as not all controllers know everything about controlling/aviation).

 

Examples are:

  • Autolands always
  • 250/10 rule with no exceptions
  • Various legal requirements for lights
  • Charts must be carried always (even a real world misconception, but not very relevant here, because the only time it's not specifically required is Part 91)

    ...and so on.

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Myth:

  • The only regulatory operational requirement (FAA) is: "lighted position lights" (commonly interpreted as "nav lights") in use from "sunset" to "sunrise"

    (This is one of the contributors to the confusion of what the FAA defines "night" as)

  • The other regulatory requirement (FAA) is: "must have an electric landing light," with no reference to when it must be used

Like a lot of the odd stuff you'll find in the sim community, someone usually finds some random airline that has an SOP to do something a little against an industry standard, and then claims it's a regulation. This is usually because they don't understand the information they found, or the person who told them gave them the impression it's a requirement (not to burst bubbles here, but not all pilots know everything about flying/aviation; just as not all controllers know everything about controlling/aviation).

 

Examples are:

  • Autolands always
  • 250/10 rule with no exceptions
  • Various legal requirements for lights
  • Charts must be carried always (even a real world misconception, but not very relevant here, because the only time it's not specifically required is Part 91)

    ...and so on.

 

 

Thanks Kyle for the very detailed and informative reply. Really helped a lot, much appreciated, I keep strobes on up to cruise until departing the runway.. Its amazing to see even the FAA have "grey areas" upon the definition of using lights on an aircraft, thats just for starters, imagine how many other items the FAA are not definitive on. I bet that's why a lot is down to pilot discretion as you cant "define" what the FAA and other aviation authorities actually mean....Very interesting. Thanks once again.

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Thanks Kyle for the very detailed and informative reply. Really helped a lot, much appreciated, I keep strobes on up to cruise until departing the runway.. Its amazing to see even the FAA have "grey areas" upon the definition of using lights on an aircraft. I bet that's why a lot is down to pilot discretion as you cant "define" what the FAA and other aviation authorities actually mean....Very interesting. Thanks once again.

 

You're welcome.

 

As much as I criticize the FAA, I do like how "open" some of the regulations are, as they don't usually box people into odd catch-22s (I can't think of any examples where they do, but I'm sure there are some regs that collide, in terms of their requirements; see the multiple definitions of "night"). The odd back side of that is that interpretations by people doing the enforcement do vary, which causes some issues between the various Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs or "Fizdohs"). One inspector might get really picky about something, whereas another FSDO might not concentrate on that issue much at all (resting on the idea that the item is more 'discretionary'). Not even kidding - this is an issue identified and studied by the industry. Still, I'd argue that the openness is more of an advantage than a disadvantage, on the whole. This also plays into the earlier comment: people in aviation don't always know everything about it...even at the FAA  :P

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Going back to the beacon light, any thoughts on why some aircraft on a tug have this running while being taxied around the apron areas and in some cases not?

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Going back to the beacon light, any thoughts on why some aircraft on a tug have this running while being taxied around the apron areas and in some cases not?

 

We did this because repositions under tow required the APU to power the hydraulics, which usually also meant we'd run the packs to keep things cool/warm. This meant that the aircraft could potentially have a pressure higher than ambient, and presented a hazard to anyone who might attempt to open the door (minor, but present). Additionally, with the HYD on, flight controls were powered, which presented a different hazard (more for smaller planes with controls within body height range). APU exhaust could be yet another (though, again, relatively minor - see here).

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I never worked in 121 ramp ops, but have launched many biz jets. Fueling a Gulfstream can be a rather long process - especially when they are departing on an international flight, where the uplift can be over 3000 gallons. When it's the middle of January, and about 10 degrees F outside, the poor fueler turn into an ice cube while standing next to the aircraft holding the pump deadman switch for 20+ minutes.

 

Single point FTW!

 

 

 


But, when the APU is running, there is a spot near the right wingtip where the APU exhaust hits the ground, and if one stands there, it is like being in a nice hot breeze in the Sahara desert, even on the coldest winter day. Not 100% safe perhaps, (if the APU turbine decided to disintegrate for some reason), but it beats getting frostbite! Only problem is that afterwards, one's clothing would be impregnated with the aroma of Jet-A exhaust

 

Yep - just like the ResetJet. I prefer the smell of spent Jet-A, luckily. I think that came from having been doused when attempting to fuel a Jet Ranger with a Range Extender mod (whoever designed that with an elbow joint needs to be hit upside the head with a Jet-A fuel nozzle).

 

Bell206SeriesOH58RangeExtenderreg3bLocki

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I prefer the smell of spent Jet-A,

 

I love the smell of JP-4 in the morning.

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Yep - just like the ResetJet. I prefer the smell of spent Jet-A, luckily. I think that came from having been doused when attempting to fuel a Jet Ranger with a Range Extender mod (whoever designed that with an elbow joint needs to be hit upside the head with a Jet-A fuel nozzle).

 

Kind of like topping off the center tank on a Beechjet, while perched up on a step ladder. The first 200 gallons go in quick. But for the last 125 it's: squeeze the trigger - let off - wait for the "foam" to settle - add a bit more - repeat. He who is impatient will get soaked!

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Kind of like topping off the center tank on a Beechjet, while perched up on a step ladder. The first 200 gallons go in quick. But for the last 125 it's: squeeze the trigger - let off - wait for the "foam" to settle - add a bit more - repeat. He who is impatient will get soaked!

 

haha - yep. Sounds a lot like the King Air nacelle tanks, too. Kinda miss the ramp on some days.

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LOGO - as above when on the ground, at night - off when above 10,000 (can aid visibility to other aircraft when on - not just advertising at night)

 

For clarification, I don't believe this is a regulation, rather more Airline SOPs, at least here in the US. For example American Airlines never used Logo lights before the USAIR merger. Now it appears it's more random. Sometimes they use them, sometimes they don't. Most other airlines though do use them all the time.

 

Tom Cain

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For clarification, I don't believe this is a regulation, rather more Airline SOPs, at least here in the US. For example American Airlines never used Logo lights before the USAIR merger. Now it appears it's more random. Sometimes they use them, sometimes they don't. Most other airlines though do use them all the time.

 

Tom Cain

 

Note that the line "none of these are rules - simply popular practices" is right at the beginning of that list.

 

The only rules are about the illumination of the nav lights (sunset to sunrise), and that a beacon and landing lights must be present (though no mention is made of when they must be used).

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