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SolRayz

Could a professional pilot shed some light?

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Cut to the chase, today here at KLAS, I witnessed two Southwest 737's on 1R final with landing lights completely off. Please tell me a special procedure was at play here. 

 

I work less than a mile away between 1L and 1R, so I get to observe the steady stream of inbound flights right over my head, with today being especially busy as it seems all commercial flight were landing on 1R, with roughly one minute and twenty seconds separation.  This was the first time two aircraft had landing lights completely disabled. No other aircraft were doing this and it was two SW 737's. Can someone shed some light? 

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Hi Marc-

 

Could be as simple as the lights were burned out..or the old skipper forgot to turn them on. :)  Most airlines SOPs require landing lights to be on during terminal operations regardless of time of day.  Occasionally, even these days there can be an old salty dog captain who thinks using the lights is wasteful during the day and would rather save the airline a few pennys. 

 

BTW..I was at the Cancun Resort today during a lunch break and enjoyed the show too!

 

Mike 

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Ok thanks Mike. I was ignorant of the fact that landing lights were not required but strongly encouraged during day flights. Only required at night. 

 

 

In the United States, for example, landing lights are not required or used for many types of aircraft, but their use is strongly encouraged, both for take-off and landing and during any operations below 10,000 ft or within ten nautical miles of an airport (FAA AIM 4-3-23). According to CFR 14 and FAR Part 91.205, a landing light is required for all aircraft used in commercial operations at night.

 

On another note, I started up the the NGX and studied the lights for a moment. I do recollect actually, a faint light where the fixed landing lights are located that seem to correlate with the runway turnoff lights. So the pilot did have those on. Not a big fan of commercial pilots doing things out of the ordinary, but so be it I guess.  

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Pilots might have a lot of reasons for doing something or not.  'Pilot's discretion' is a common thing we use, when there is no FAA ruling on a particular subject.  It means we are encouraged to look at a particular situation and use our own judgment.  Trust me, there is no shortage of FAA regulations, and its nice that the FAA trust us to use our good 'trained' judgment in many cases. 

 

I would turn on landing lights in the day for TO-climb until outside of traffic area, Apr/Landing, transitioning through congested airspace, and maneuvering in practice areas.   Sometimes if the airplane was equipped with both landing and taxi, I would just use the taxi light, as it uses a little less 'juice', should the alternator fail.   However if the electrical system does fail, and am only running on battery, the idea is to shut off all non essentials, and that includes lights, or at the most minimal setting at night.  We also practice landing at night with landing light off sometimes too, to make sure we can.  

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The landing lights on the plane I fly cause a distinct vibration that you can feel when they are extended.  Some guys turn them off quickly while others leave them on.  I don't even need to look at their switches to know if they are extended or not.

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This was the first time two aircraft had landing lights completely disabled.

"Disabled" sounds really funny in this context, I would just say they weren't turned on.

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