Anti Collision Beacons.

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I seem to have caught several aircraft yesterday with their anti collision beacons flashing. Can anyone tell me whether the one on top of the fuselage illuminates at the same time as the one beneath? Or are they staggered?

Just curious. Perhaps some of our aircrew members might be able to enlighten me. Also, I may be wrong about this, but I only noticed white strobes on the Aurigny ATR. What are the rules governing the use of anti collision beacons and can they be either red or white?

Regards,

kev35

Original post
Profile picture for user tenthije

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as far as I know:

red on the top
red on the bottom
white on the wingtips

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I think that the timing between the top and bottom anti-collision lights overlap each other. Because I've taken shots with just the top or bottom, and some with both illuminated. Either that, or it could vary between the manufacturers. I seem to notice that biz-jet ones stay lit for longer aswell....about 3/4 of my biz-jet shots have the beacon illuminated.

Profile picture for user wysiwyg

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Can be either red or white and there is no requirement for multiple ones to be sequenced afaik. I've only ever seen installations where one switch turns on all...however on the A340 if you turn on the taxi camera system the lower beacon will switch off so you don't blind yourself!

Tenthije - you're mixing a bit of beacon, strobes and nav lights all together with your answer!

Profile picture for user kev35

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Wys.

Thanks for that. I've often wondered whether there was any particular reason for the differences.

Regards,

kev35

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Just to elaborate a bit more...

The (anti-collision) beacon is the (usually) red thing on the top and bottom. This is usually turned on immediately prior to engine start/push back and turned off after engine shut down.

The strobes are very brilliant dazzling white flashers usually located on the wingtips (on large commercial aircraft). Boeing ones tend to do a single flash while Airbus ones generally do a double flash. These are usually turned on when entering an active runway and remain on until vacating the runway after landing. They must not be used on the ground as the energy levels involved are very high and represent a risk around things such as fuel bowsers. They can also bring about epileptic fits in certain individuals and have been known to cause such distraction to other taxying aircraft that their use on the ground tends to increase ground collisions!

Nav lights are the red, green and white steady lights. They are only legally required for flying at night however most airlines SOP's suggest using them at all times, The red light is located on the left wing tip and is visible from the front and left, the green light is on the right wing tip and can be seen from the front and right. The white light(s) are usually located on the tail (although the 757 had them on the back of the wingtips) and are visible from the rear.

Hope this is of interest.

Profile picture for user EGNM

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And to add to this, on some aircraft, such as ATP, the anti-col beacon is Red with Weight-on-Wheels, but upon becoming airbourne switches to a white beacon, as this is supposed to be easier to see when viewed from distance - similar to the strobes!

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Does Virgin use/have logo lights on all their aircraft? I think it's Delta here in the States that doesn't have them installed, perhaps a few other operators as well.

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The Q400 as used by Flybe has an unusual arrangement - red anti-collision beacon on fuselage top and white strobes on top of the tail and under fuselage - there do not appear to be any wing tip lights (apart from the usual red/green).

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Does Virgin use/have logo lights on all their aircraft? I think it's Delta here in the States that doesn't have them installed, perhaps a few other operators as well.

I think they are fitted on our 744's. On the A340 they are completely automatic and turn on whenever either the main gear legs are compressed or when the gear legs are uncompressed and the flaps are not retracted.

The 757 and the Saab 340 had them opn separate switches on the overhead. Is that the same as the Embraer?

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Is that the same as the Embraer?

Yes, we have a switch on the overhead panel.

I'm suprised that any operator opts not to install the logo lights. At night it can be nearly impossible to spot an unlit aircraft at an airport (not to mention the free advertising). The more lights the better IMO.

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The reason we can switch on the lower beacon or both upper and lower beacons is that in visible moisture with the upper beacon on it can cause vertigo. Therefore being able to switch it off will reduce the affects of vertigo.

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Interesting, I'd never thought about the vertigo side of things. When I'm going through Africa I fly with every light Airbus fitted switched on full brightness. I trust nobody down there!

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The Anti Col beacon on the Q400 is masked by the engines - if you are on the ground, and either level with or to the rear of the aircraft you can't see the beacon.

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Interesting, I'd never thought about the vertigo side of things. When I'm going through Africa I fly with every light Airbus fitted switched on full brightness. I trust nobody down there!

I don't know if it's because of our shorter fuselage but we often turn off the strobes in night IMC. The beacon is still annoying but we can't turn it off without getting an EICAS message so we just deal with that.

What altitudes do you turn on/off your exterior lights? We recently switched to using FL180 as the point where we turn on/off the landing and logo lights. Before we used 10,000' but I guess FL180 is more the norm so we switched over.

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Virgin use 10000' as the cue for landing lights on/off. Taxi and turn off lights are switched at the same time as gear extension/retraction. My last company had an SOP where you switched these on when cleared to take off or land. I liked that SOP as you had a visual confirmation (switch position) of whether you had received take off/landing clearance.

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I liked that SOP as you had a visual confirmation (switch position) of whether you had received take off/landing clearance.

We use the same system. Below 10,000' we have the main landing lights on but leave the nose landing/taxi lights off. Doesn't really matter as they are automatically extinguished when the gear is retracted. On approach we/I turn on the nose landing light when we are cleared for the approach. The taxi light is turned on when we are cleared to land. Some captains chose to use the taxi light for approach clearance and landing for landing clearance but it's a personal preference. It is an excellent memory aid.