Use of strobe lights on the ground

Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>In one of my last posts about generators/alternators it started to segway into a discussion of strobes being used on the ground. Seems like an interesting topic so I figured I'd start a new message thread on it.

When I start my plane, once the engine is running I turn on my position lights and then my wing tip strobes.  Several people mentioned that they hated when pilots did this.  I would like to know what others do and why.

I though that a plane to be legal for night flight, has to have position lights and rotating beacon or strobes on at all times.  My strobes do have a placard to turn them off in fog....

I may need to rethink the way I do things....

    Dave</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Dave, here's an FAA Advisory Circular on that very subject:

AC 120-74, "Part 121, 125, and 135 Flightcrew Procedures During Taxi Operations":

7. USE OF EXTERIOR AIRCRAFT LIGHTS TO MAKE AIRCRAFT MORE CONSPICUOUS.

a. General.

(1) Exterior aircraft lights may be used to make an aircraft operating on the airport surface more conspicuous. Pilots may use various combinations of exterior lights to convey their location and intent to other pilots. Certain exterior lights may also be used in various combinations to signal whether the aircraft is on a taxiway or on a runway, in position on the runway but holding for takeoff clearance, crossing an active runway, or moving down the runway for takeoff.

(2) Because adherence to the guidelines in this AC are voluntary and aircraft equipment varies, flightcrews are cautioned not to rely solely on the status of an aircraft's lights to determine the intentions of the flightcrew of the other aircraft. Additionally, flightcrews must remember to comply with operating limitations on the aircraft's lighting systems.

b. Exterior Lights. To the extent possible and consistent with aircraft equipage, operating limitations, and flightcrew procedures, illuminate exterior lights as follows:

(1) Engines running. Turn on the rotating beacon whenever an engine is running.

(2) Taxiing. Prior to commencing taxi, turn on navigation, position, anti-collision, and logo lights. Strobe lights should not be illuminated during taxi if they will adversely affect the vision of other pilots or ground personnel.

(3) Crossing a runway. All exterior lights should be illuminated when crossing a runway.

(4) Entering the departure runway for takeoff. When entering a runway to takeoff, or when taxiing into position and holding for takeoff, illuminate one or more landing lights and all other exterior lights. Strobe lights should not be illuminated if they will adversely affect the vision of other pilots.

(5) Takeoff. Turn on all remaining landing lights when takeoff clearance is received, or when commencing takeoff roll at an airport without an operating control tower.</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Item B1, turen pon beacon when engine is running.  I do not have a beacon, what should I use in it's place?</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Dave, if you have a red/white strobe on the vertical stabilizer instead of a rotating beacon, that strobe should be turned on anytime the engine is running.

I do as George recommends and leave the strobe switch on all the time, so that any time the master is on, the red/white strobe on my vertical stabilizer is flashing.</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Here is what I have on my plane:

A red and green position light on each wing with a clear light on the rudder, these are on or off, no flashing, blinking or anything like that.

Each wing also has a clear strobe that can be turned off and on independantly of the other colored lights.</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Dave, the way your airplane is equipped, I don't have an answer.

The AC clearly states, "Strobe lights should not be illuminated during taxi if they will adversely affect the vision of other pilots or ground personnel."</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Leaving strobes on during daytime is more than a recommendation; it is the law. CFR 14 section 91.209 states that aircraft equipped with anti collision lights (strobes, rotating beacons) must use them at all times. However, the pilot is given discretion to turn them off if necessary for safety.</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Hi Empire,

You're absolutely correct about the wording of FAR.  The question for me is whether it applies equally to operation on the ground as well as while airborne.  Taken literally, "No person may OPERATE (emphasis mine) an aircraft that is equipped with an anticollision light system unless it has lighted anticollision lights" would seem to mean ground taxi operations as well as flight operations.

The advisory circular related to ground taxi operations quoted above would seem to contradict the FAR by differentiating between "anticollision" lights and "strobes", and that's where I'm having a problem.

I've noticed that most airliners wait until they're on their takeoff roll before turning on wingtip strobes, and that's more in line with the advisory circular than with the strict interpretation of the FAR.</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>I think the above FAA recommended guidelines are good ones..but there's always an exception.  Daytime, VFR only planes might be a good example...no lights required...at all.

Putting the recommendations aside for a moment...during daytime ops, I don't think that having your strobes on are going to adversly affect anyones vision...it might annoy someone  but I think it's pretty minor.  However during night ops, having a plane taxi by you...or you taxiing by someone on the ramp/in parking/holding short...what ever.  When you get zapped in the eyes at relatively close proximity by a high intensity strobe it is going to adversly affect your night vision!  One may not be able to see what would otherwise have been just a dark sillouette (SP?) which may or may not have been taxied into.
Also, at night time; depth perception not being what it is in the daytime...landing aircraft pilot may be distracted by the flash and unable to determine whether or not it's on the ground, or somewhere in between.  This could divert the pilot's attention.
Being that flying is the second most exciting thing known to man...why would we want to divert any attention away from the first most exciting thing??

Having a reminder about the master switch being on isn't a bad idea....how about an annoying beeper or blinking light (not anticollision stobes) rigged to an oil pressure switch?...just a thought...

Michael</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Michael,

Even though no lights are required for daytime VFR, the rule requires that any plane equipped with anti collission lights must use them while operating. This would include daytime as well as nightime. The pilot is given discretion to turn them off for safety reasons. Perhaps this could be for operating in fog or clouds, or maybe as a courtesy for other pilots in close proximity (ground ops at night).

I have seen aircraft equipped with beepers that sound as a reminder to turn off the master.</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>  I think people who taxi an aircraft and hit a stationary object on the ground (building, pole, fence, other plane) should have both their pilot AND driver's license suspended  tongue

  I have flown with a half dozen pilots who do nothing but poke the GPS while taxiing to their destination.  I've seen pilots taxi around at airports with unlighted taxiways and run off the taxiway, instead of doing S-turns to get the landing light to show where they are going.

  I have 0 respect for pilots who:

can't navigate without a GPS
can't avoid other planes in the pattern without a radio
can't avoid other planes on the ground without strobes
don't bother to wear their prescription glasses for flying

  Hello!  Look outside!  Below 1000 AGL and in motion is a critical phase of flight.  Not the time to be "eyes inside" the cockpit for extended periods.

  Like I said, I personnally do not run strobes while stopped in the runup area.  If anyone hit's me, I've got to figure they're playing with the GPS or calling on a cell phone during the taxi.

  Strobes are a poor substitute for inadequate scanning outside...

Mark

P.S.  Yes there is a rule to leave them on for all operations.  And yes there is also a rule that says you can break the previous rule if you think turning the blinkies off contributes to safety.  Of course leaving them on contributes to YOUR safety (fewer people hit you), but does it contribute to the safety of the poor bugger on the approach?  Does it help the night vision of the guy
in the runup area who has dimmed all his interior lights to improve his vision for upcoming takeoff?  NO.  This is why it is rude to have them on while stopped in the runup area.

.04</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>How to solve problem - Don't run the strobes when it will be offensive to others - kinda like diming your headlights for oncoming cars.. If your are taxiing in Chicago - at Night - You just might be a fool!   Just kidding..Point is  - Just be considerate of others - everything else will take care of itself..Hopefully. jack</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>My thoughts are more like dimming the headlights for oncoming cars.

I have wingtip strobes and recently added the taillight position/strobe combination -

1. - the beacon is always on with the master.

2. - I use the strobes more than I used to - always used them in flight, generally use them on taxi and especially taxi back, sometimes even over to the gas pumps if I think it adds to safety - especially if its one of those days when I don't have much confidence in others vigilance of moving aircraft -

The strobes go off momentarily as appropriate when near any other aircraft or while runup or hold short when I believe they may be in field of view of other pilots - taxiing, taking off, or landing - but they're on the rest of the time -

If for some reason I didn't see another aircraft in the air, in the pattern, or on the ground I would like to give them the best chance of seeing me, or noticeing me a little sooner than they otherwise may have, and even on the ground it should be clear to others that my intentions are to be in the active traffic, active runway. On landing, after I'm clear of the active is when the strobes go off so I'm giving a clear indication to everyone else of my intentions and "clear of the active" besides the radio and scaning visually.

"See and avoid"  and "See and be seen and avoid" 

0.02 Ken Wanagas</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>91.209 (b) requires you to operate your anticollision lights (if equipped) anytime you operate the aircraft except that they "need not" be lighted when the PIC determines that because of operating conditions it would be in the interest of safety to turn the lights off. 
  It does NOT say to turn them off when it's polite, or when it bothers someone elses idea of what constitutes good night vision.  If another pilot is suffering from poor vision, then it's HIS responsibility to not operate an aircraft while he is incapacitated or suffering from a physical ailment.  The placards related to the operation of strobes/anti-collision lighting in proximity of clouds or other objects or on the ground are to protect the PIC of the strobe-light equipped aircraft.   It is not to protect anyone else.
  If, however, the PIC considers that such distraction or lack of courtesy constitutes that "it would be in the interest of safety" to turn them off,....certainly he should do so, and is provided a defense to prosecution should he so choose.
  Personally, I operate my strobe-light type anticollision lights whenever I operate my airplanes, except when near other taxying aircraft with which I am in RADIO CONTACT.  (If I'm not on the same freq and/or talking to them then I leave my anticollision lights on.)  I do so as a courtesy AND as a method of improving safety.  It's hard for any pilot to focus of safety of flight when he's angered by discourtesy.  But just because I'm on the ground, and just because there are other pilots nearby in other aircraft does not make a valid argument for disregarding the requirement to comply with 91.209.   An argument just as valid could be made for keeping the lights on, in order to prevent a pedestrian on the ramp from walking into my prop as it's running.  Maybe he couldn't HEAR my airplane running because of the jet operating on the other side.  It'd be pretty hard to disregard my anticollision lights, however.  And the responsibility to allow ample time for night vision to return before taking flight is the other pilot's obligation and is an action completely under his control, not mine.   In my view, keeping someone from walking/taxying into my prop is far more an immediate danger and "in the interest of safety".
  (And while on this subject,  you'll likely notice that there are no airplanes of modern manufacture that are equipped with true rotating beacons.  Currently produced airplanes universally have flashing anti-collision lighting (strobes).  Next time you're at the airport watch the MD80/737/747/757/767's and notice what they do, day OR night.)</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>Sounds like the Final Answer. Blow their eyes out  - it's their problem?  B</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>I think I agree with George on this one.

In my years of night flying I have never been blinded or comprimised just because someone taxiing by me had his strobes on...  I do a fair amount of night flying and have just never had a problem......</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>This discussion seems to have deteriorated to a war of words between two factions the off's and on's and probably based on the type of airport you fly from. If you utilize some common sense given the situation on the other side of  the aircraft windshield instead of seeking some divine guidance from the rule book we will all be better off.</HTML>

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Re: Use of strobe lights on the ground

<HTML>No war of words intended. I thought I pretty well addressed the issue of courtesy vs safety.  If you're angered by someone complying with the regs, then perhaps a visit to a professional regarding anger-management would be appropriate or perhaps it's not a good time for you to be flying?

Re: Stan's thought, "The question for me is whether it applies equally to operation on the ground as well as while airborne..."
The regs, the insurance companies, the NTSB, and the FAA all consider an aircraft flight operations begins when the aircraft FIRST moves under it's own power for the purposes of flight.  This means that the operational regs apply when taxying for takeoff.

Example:  Someone has insurance with split deductibles.  Not-In-Motion deductible is Zero, and In-Motion deductible is $1,000.  While taxying to the maintenance hangar across the field, the pilot inadvertently taxies into a ditch and destroys his prop and engine.  How much will he have to pay to replace his prop and engine?  Answer: Nothing.  He was not taxying for flight, so the Not-In-Motion deductible applies....Zero.
  If he'd been taxying to the run-up pad for takeoff, then he'd be subject to a $1,000 deductible because the moment he moved away from the tie-down or chocks was the moment the flight began.  (In-Motion means for flight.  Not-In-Motion means all other operations.  Read your policy.)
 
Larry, Curly and Moe share the ownership of #3-Stooges Aviation.  While taxying their airplane to the wash-rack, one of them becomes angry with the other over the route chosen and strikes him.  What's the crime?  A misdemeanor assault.
What if the same thing happened on the way to the runway?  A felony: Interference of a flight crewmember in the performance of their duty.

Wild examples? Yes.   But they illustrate the point.   So, what do you do if you're running up the engine to get the oil hot for an oil change and you smell smoke and an electrical fire breaks out under the panel and you successfully put it out with the master switch off and the fire extinguisher, and the damage is limited to about $50 in wire?  Answer: Nothing, other than arrange for proper repairs.
But if the same thing occurs while taxying in from a landing the pilot must also immediately notify the NTSB per Part 830.

So, when do the regs say we should have lighted anticollsion lights?

I recently was at Ft. Worth Meacham airport in a C-414 (strobe lights only for anti-collision) after dark.  The ramp was crowded with airplanes and people due to a local football game.  Line service had parked me directly in front of a Hawker with my tail near the radome.  The co-pilot was sitting in the Hawker's right seat, bored, waiting for their passengers.  He watched me lead my passengers to the airplane and load them up, and then observed me to climb into the plane, close the door, and motion for the lineman to remove the chocks.  He had ample time to wake his brain-dead self up to what was about to happen.  When I turned on my master switch, my tail-light strobe began to flash.  I started both props turning with engines, called on the combined tower/ground frequency for taxi clearance and pulled away thru the people-crowded ramp towards the runway.  Moss-for-brains blocked the combined freq. for the next minute or so chewing me out for "hurting his eyes."
  I didn't have to say a word.  Ground control told him to shut his eyes, and when he gets comfortable enough to see his way out of his cockpit to go to the lobby and telephone them,...they'd like to visit about unauthorized blockage of their frequency. 
   Sitting there on the ramp is hardly a life-threatening matter with regard to night vision.  It's a good two minutes to taxy to the runway and he'll recover if he's too in-attentive, just plain dumb, or too lazy to close his eyelids.  Courtesy means different things to different people in differing situations.  I felt that the safety of pedestrians dictated a BIG NOTICE that I was about to start a couple of 335 hp meat-cleavers. 
  If you don't like flashing lights don't go to the airport, or pre-flight your eye-lids.</HTML>

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