Exterior lights are commonly found on airplanes. When staring up at the night sky, you may notice them illuminated on the bodies of airplanes. Both civilian and commercial airplanes feature exterior lights. Some of the most common types of exterior lights found on airplanes include the following:
Navigation lights are exterior lights that are used for navigational purposes. Also known as position lights, they allow other pilots and air traffic controllers to identify the direction in which an airplane is flying.
Navigation lights include a red light on the left wing and a green light on the right wing. Some airplanes may also feature a third navigation light consisting of a white light on the tail. Regardless, they feature a red and green light, which are found on the left and right wings, respectively.
In addition to navigation lights, many airplanes are equipped with anti-collision lights. Anti-collision lights are exactly what they sound like: exterior lights that are designed to lower the risk of collision.
Anti-collision lights typically consist of light-emitting diode (LED) strobe lights. They rapidly flash while alerting other pilots and air traffic controllers to the presence of the airplane. Normally, airplanes will only have their anti-collision lights turned on when preparing to land.
Taxi lights are exterior lights that are used for taxiing purposes. They are found on the front of airplanes — either above or below the cockpit windshield. When airplanes are being taxiied, they will typically have their taxi lights turned on.
Taxi lights are always white. Therefore, they are easy to distinguish from navigation lights. Navigation lights consist of red and green lights, as well as an optional white light on the tail, but taxi lights are always white. And taxi lights are found on the front of airplanes. They are essentially headlights for airplanes.
Some airplanes are equipped with logo lights as well. Logo lights are specifically found on commercial airplanes. They are known as “logo lights” because they are designed to illuminate airline logos.
You can find logo lights on the tails of airplanes. Commercial airplanes will usually feature an airline logo on the tail. On the vertical stabilizer of the tail is a set of lights that beam toward this logo. Known as logo lights, they illuminate the logo when turned on. Logo lights are optional, but many commercial airplanes still feature them.