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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Landing lights?

Some airplanes have really bright lights on at night when they come in for landing (Landing Lights I assume?). At what point do pilots turn these on/off during flight? Only when landing /departing or when passing 10,000 feet?


When we receive take off clearance, "cleared for take off," the captain will turn on the landing lights. They will remain on until 10,000 feet. The pilot flying will call "10 thousand" prompting the PNF (Pilot Not Flying) to turn off the lights. Many aircraft have the lights embedded in the wing. The lights on the Airbus 320 fleet extend downwards from under the wing. They cause some drag and we pilots liken them to "mini" speed brakes. We would stow these lights if we plan on exceeding 250 knots below ten thousand feet during climb.

When descending through 10,000 the lights will go on as part of the "in-range" checklist. The in-range checks should be done while descending through 10 thousand feet or about ten minutes from landing.


david said...

More landing light factoids (from a private owner/pilot with too much spare time):

In a private plane,, at least, it's legal to land with the landing light off (or broken), as long as you're not carrying passengers.

There's some evidence that leaving landing lights on below 3,000 feet helps avoid bird strikes, at least for light aircraft. I'm not sure how much that applies to airliners, with the higher speeds.

If you're intercepted by police or military aircraft and can't make radio contact, turning on your landing light is part of the procedure for signalling that you're ready and willing to follow the interceptors.

Light single-engine aircraft often have only one landing light, which also serves as a taxi light -- it's normally on a wing (e.g. Cessna) or right under the propeller (e.g. Piper). Some owners have two or three landing lights installed, so that they'll look more like airliners on a night approach :-)

From the Flight Deck said...

David, thanks for your contribution.I remember most flying clubs did not want the pilot to use the landing light because of the cost to replace it.

It would be nice for small aircraft to fly with it on at all times, just like cars nowadays.
Every little bit helps.

On some private jets, you'll see their landing lights flash on and off for bird avoidance. Not sure if works.

Another myth out there is to have the weather radar on for bird avoidance. From what I read, it doesn't help.

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