What are all the lights on an airliner?

February 07, 2017

Compared to early prop airliners that had only a single red rotating beacon to signal their presence at night, the modern jetliner is lit up like a video game. Strobes, LEDs, and Logo Lights all illuminate various parts of a jet airliner, with every light serving a specific purpose. Traditional navigation lights, or “nav lights,” stem from the boating world with green on the right wingtip, red on the left, and white on the tail. The relative position of these three lights can instantly indicate the position and direction of an aircraft in flight.

High-intensity white strobe lights are mounted on an aircraft’s wingtips, and flash in simultaneous or alternating patterns to identify an aircraft from large distances. Fixed landing lights are located in the wing root or on landing gear struts, while retractable landing lights extend from the lower surface of the wing or flap track fairings. Red high-intensity LEDs (light-emitting diodes) replace the old rotating beacons and are mounted above and below the fuselage. Other lights illuminate the wing leading and trailing edges.