Airplane Anti-Collision Lights Explained
In the night sky, it is often easy to spot an airplane flying overhead with its blinking and steady lights indicating its position. That being said, aircraft feature a wide range of light types, and all of them offer different purposes for flight. Typically dictated by U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements, all airplanes must have certain types of lights, such as landing lights to assist aircraft landing on a runway. For the purpose of this blog, we will be looking more closely at anti-collision lights, what they are, and how they work.
Since modern pilots rely on computer-based navigation systems for the most part to prevent accidents like collisions, such incidences are rare. Even so, a collision on land or in the air is a disaster to be avoided at all costs with all precautions necessary. Therefore, anti-collision lights, also known as beacon or strobe lights, are a vital and required aspect of any safe aircraft. Thankfully, collisions between two or more aircraft are extremely rare due to a number of safety precautions, and anti-collision lights keep these incidences even fewer and further between. With computer systems down or failing, a pilot may unknowingly enter the path of another nearby aircraft, in which case anti-collision lights are an important signal.
Consisting of lightbulbs mounted on the exterior of the fuselage, anti-collision lights produce illumination in the dark to signal other pilots if they are in the aircraft’s path. As collisions are not strictly limited to the air, these lights also provide additional safety on the runway, but are distinguishable from landing lights by their purpose. Interestingly, most aircraft collisions occur on the runway, so keeping anti-collision lights on at all parts of flight is crucial.
The terms beacon and strobe actually refer to two different types of anti-collision lights, as defined by their location on the fuselage. Beacon anti-collision lights are always red, and they are located both on top and on bottom of the fuselage so that they remain visible to the ground crew. Designed to flash and be easy to spot, beacon lights are noticeable during takeoff and landing. Meanwhile, strobe anti-collision lights are always white, and they are typically located on the sides of the fuselage, but they may also be found on the rear of some aircraft. These are the brightest of all lights on aircraft, and they flash quickly to produce a strobe effect for specific conditions. Unlike beacon anti-collision lights, strobe anti-collision lights are not kept on at all times. While they may help in clear conditions, their brightness may also be reflected back in fog, so they should be turned off during such weather.
Given their many purposes and benefits, anti-collision lights should be chosen and installed with care and intentions in mind. All lightbulbs and other parts you procure for your aircraft should be vetted for fit and function to ensure the safe operation of all anti-collision systems. While collisions are rare, proper preparation can ensure you do not become the statistics. As such, be sure to procure all of your top-quality aircraft parts from an accredited distributor like ASAP Distribution.
Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we are a leading online purchasing platform boasting access to over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts for your various aircraft systems. Simply submit a Request for Quote (RFQ) form with as much detail as possible to receive a custom quote within 15 minutes or less on any desired item. Our team of experts uses information like your shipping deadlines and target prices to best tailor a quote to fit your unique needs, so kick off the procurement process with us today!