Aircraft Landing Lights: What’s Required And What’s Recommended?

Landing lights are special types of aircraft lighting. They illuminate the runway and any terrain below the aircraft to ensure good visibility during takeoff and landing. Of all the different types of aircraft lighting, there are many questions on when landing lights should be used, their requirements, upkeep, and other considerations. These can be especially pressing for pilots of private aircraft. The following info will help clear up some of the most common questions, however, these are only general recommendations; always confirm your local and state laws, as well best-practice craft operating procedures to determine all necessary and safe flight protocol.

When Should Landing Lights Be Turned On?

Landing lights are mostly used during takeoffs, landings, and when taxiing. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also advises pilots to turn on landing lights when the aircraft flying is within 10 miles of an airport at an altitude of 10,000 feet or lower. This included both day and night. The FAA also recommends landing lights be kept on along flight paths where flocks of birds are likely to be encountered. In general, if the craft is operating in an area where it needs to be easily distinguishable, and where the pilot needs the best visibility in low-visibility circumstances, then landing lights should be turned on.

When Should Landing Lights Be Kept Off?

Landing lights do not need to be used during clear conditions and at high altitudes. They also should not be switched on when taxiing near an airport gate or where ground crews are present, as this can cause flash blindness. Care should be taken when using landing lights in haze, smoke, or fog, as the light can be reflected back and interfere with the pilot’s ability to see.

Is It Legal To Fly Without Landing Lights?

The legal requirements of landing lights will vary by jurisdiction and the type of aircraft. Specific regulations that pertain to when landing lights should be used and the types of lamps that are certified as landing lights. In the United States, the FAA requires that all commercial aircraft use landing lights during operations at night. Airports and private runways may have their own requirements for use of landing lights during landing, takeoff, and when taxiing.

Can A Pilot Replace A Landing Light Or Is A Mechanic Needed?

Depending on the aircraft, replacing a landing light can be completed with some basic know-how and confirmation of the correct bulb type. Locating specific aircraft lights for maintenance and repair can be as simple as sourcing them from an authorized distributor of aircraft lamps or an aviation lighting manufacturer that accommodates small quantity orders. It’s important to find reliable guidance on identifying the right bulb for the setting, as incorrect pairings of landing lights with aircraft placements can be hazardous at critical moments. Once the correct bulbs are acquired, it can be quick and easy to install them with just a few tools and a reliable maintenance manual. It’s important to keep in mind, that some aircraft bulb replacements and maintenance tasks are simpler than others.

What Types Of Light Bulbs Are Landing Lights?

Landing lights are extremely bright light bulbs. They are usually sealed beam, halogen, or LED bulbs that shine at or an equivalent of 400 – 600 watts. The bulb shape is usually referred to as PAR36 or PAR56.

What Happens If Landing Lights Fail?

The FAA advises pilots to keep their aircraft in a “level-landing attitude until the ground is contacted” if landing lights are inoperable during an emergency or a night landing where outside visual references are also unavailable.