How to distinguish Boeing from Airbus by the lights on the wings?


How can I tell Boeing from Airbus by the lights on their wings?

Modern airliners are equipped with various lights that are necessary for the safe operation of aircraft. While some are used during certain flight times, such as when taxiing, others are permanently on.

White strobe lights

One such type of light is the strobe light. Flashing strobe lights serve as collision avoidance signals, warning the observer from afar. White strobe lights are mounted on each wing, usually near the wingtips. The third strobe is installed at the rear of the aircraft, next to the auxiliary power unit.

These lights come on before the pilot intends to taxi onto the runway. While in flight, strobe lights are designed to draw the attention of pilots of other aircraft to keep them at a safe distance. The lights are turned off after the aircraft lands and leaves the runway. This is a signal to everyone that the aircraft has vacated the runway: “The runway is free.”

High intensity lights — the brightest lights on an airplane. Strobe lights pierce through heavy clouds, fog and rain, indicating the presence of an aircraft in the air. White strobe lights flash at regular intervals during flight.

All Airbus aircraft use two strobe lights at each wingtip. They are programmed in such a way that they flash without pause one after another. But on Boeing aircraft, only one strobe light is installed on each wing. The left and right indicators flash at regular intervals, while the rear strobe lights work in unison with the wing strobe lights.


Red Beacons< /strong>

Another type of side collision avoidance lights is a red beacon on the top and bottom of the fuselage. These beacons — part of the collision avoidance system. They primarily indicate the operation of the engines, hence the red color. Ground personnel are warned to stay clear of the aircraft while these beacons are on.

The red lights come on when the pilot intends to start the engines, usually before leaving the air bridge. And they turn off only after the plane is parked and the engines are turned off. Although beacons also serve as a means of alerting other aircraft, they are much less visible from a distance.

Navigation lights

Navigation lights help the observer determine the direction of flight. If the beacons and strobe lights indicate the presence of an aircraft, the green and red navigation lights determine whether the aircraft is flying towards or away from the observer. The green indicator is located on the right tip of the wing — on the starboard side, and the red — on the left tip of the wing of the aircraft — on the port side. 

If the observer sees this pattern, the aircraft is moving in the same direction as the observer's aircraft. If the red light is oriented to starboard, the plane flies towards! While navigation lights are primarily used between sunset and sunrise, i.e. at night, pilots usually keep them on throughout the flight.

Other lights

The aircraft also has other lighting devices: taxiing, turning, takeoff and landing lights. There are those that illuminate the tail of the aircraft at night, and telltale lights on the wings and fuselage.

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