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Aircraft Lighting

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Airframe & Powerplant: Lights On!
Illuminating advice for the cockpit
By Steven W. Ells
AOPA Pilot, December 2004

Modern airplanes such as the Lancair Columbia 350 are equipped with more lights than an over-the-road semitruck. These include courtesy lights; overhead swivel lights; glareshield floods; upper instrument panel and lower instrument panel lights; circuit breaker panel lights; trim, flap, and fuel tank position indicator lights; and annunciator panel lights. Somewhere between vintage and modern are dependable upgraded lighting systems that increase night-flying safety.

Into The Darkness
The Night Flight Safety Equation
By Robert N. Rossier
AOPA Flight Training, November 1999

A thorough preflight is necessary for the safety of any flight, but it takes on additional importance for a night flight. When performing the preflight and runup for a night flight, pay particular attention to the following:

Form and Function
Night Moves
By C. Hall "Skip" Jones
AOPA Flight Training, March 1996

As aviation grew and pilots and their aircraft became more capable, flying at night became a reality. Because see and avoid was (as it is now) the primary form of traffic avoidance, various types of aircraft lights were developed to provide for both external and internal visibility at night.

FAR Part 91: Regulations pertaining to Aircraft Lighting

§ 91.209 Aircraft lights.

No person may:

  1. During the period from sunset to sunrise (or, in Alaska, during the period a prominent unlighted object cannot be seen from a distance of 3 statute miles or the sun is more than 6 degrees below the horizon) —
    1. Operate an aircraft unless it has lighted position lights;
    2. Park or move an aircraft in, or in dangerous proximity to, a night flight operations area of an airport unless the aircraft —
      1. Is clearly illuminated;
      2. Has lighted position lights; or
      3. is in an area that is marked by obstruction lights;
    3. Anchor an aircraft unless the aircraft-
      1. Has lighted anchor lights; or
      2. Is in an area where anchor lights are not required on vessels; or
  2. Operate an aircraft that is equipped with an anticollision light system, unless it has lighted anticollision lights. However, the anticollision lights need not be lighted when the pilot-in-command determines that, because of operating conditions, it would be in the interest of safety to turn the lights off.

[Doc. No. 27806, 61 FR 5171, Feb. 9, 1996]

§ 91.205 (c) and (d) Powered civil aircraft with standard category U.S. airworthiness certificates: Instrument and equipment requirements.

  1. Visual flight rules (night). For VFR flight at night, the following instruments and equipment are required:
    1. Instruments and equipment specified in paragraph (b) of this section.
    2. Approved position lights.
    3. An approved aviation red or aviation white anticollision light system on all U.S.-registered civil aircraft. Anticollision light systems initially installed after August 11, 1971, on aircraft for which a type certificate was issued or applied for before August 11, 1971, must at least meet the anticollision light standards of part 23, 25, 27, or 29 of this chapter, as applicable, that were in effect on August 10, 1971, except that the color may be either aviation red or aviation white. In the event of failure of any light of the anticollision light system, operations with the aircraft may be continued to a stop where repairs or replacement can be made.
    4. If the aircraft is operated for hire, one electric landing light.
    5. An adequate source of electrical energy for all installed electrical and radio equipment.
    6. One spare set of fuses, or three spare fuses of each kind required, that are accessible to the pilot in flight.
  2. Instrument flight rules. For IFR flight, the following instruments and equipment are required:
    1. Instruments and equipment specified in paragraph (b) of this section, and, for night flight, instruments and equipment specified in paragraph (c) of this section.

Updated Wednesday, December 01, 2004 11:05:08 AM