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10 May 2017
Commercial Aircraft

Red, green, and white: Shedding light on aircraft illumination

A320neo_Cold weather 1
A320neo_Cold weather 1
10 May 2017

A320neo_Cold weather 1

Seen head-on, this Airbus A320neo shows its port (left side) and starboard (right side) red and green position lights

A320neo_Takeoff AIRBUS, RAMADIER Sylvain
10 May 2017

A320neo_Takeoff

Powerful lights in the forward landing gear light up the runway as an Airbus A320 lifts off

A350 XWB_Takeoff GRAHAM UDEN
10 May 2017

A350 XWB_Takeoff

With powerful lamps in the forward landing gear and wing roots lighting the way, an Airbus A350 accelerates for takeoff

A321neo_Logo light
10 May 2017

A321neo_Logo light

The so-called logo light illuminates the vertical tail fin on an Airbus A321neo

A321neo_Position light MASTERFILMS, GOUSSE Herve - MasterFilms
10 May 2017

A321neo_Position light

The bright red light on this Airbus A321neo signals to all around that this is the left, or port side, wing

From take-off to landing, a jetliner’s external lights are vital to seeing and being seen. 
The Exterior Lights team in Getafe, Spain sets requirements for industry suppliers to design and manufacture such lighting – ensuring correct operation in all conditions, including very cold temperatures at high altitudes and high temperatures in hot climates, and the vibrations encountered during a typical flight. Another aspect is ensuring the right electrical bonding in case of a lightning strike. 
“Our main role is to gather data on state-of-the-art technologies and set out specific design requirements to instruct suppliers in designing lighting systems to meet operators’ needs,” said Amelia Martin, Head of Exterior Lights. 
Aircraft lights are divided into two broad categories: those used to help pilots see, and those that make the aircraft visible to others.
Like the headlights on a car, powerful forward-facing lights are switched on during darkness and in inclement weather to help flight crews discern the ground in front of them. Referred to as landing, taxi and take-off lights, these super-bright lamps are employed during taxiing, take-offs and landings. Other lights are used for visual ice detection on engines and wings, while additional ones illuminate areas on the aircraft with camera coverage. 
Lights that help make an aircraft visible to others trace their origins to maritime traditions: a red light on the port (left) side; a green light on the starboard (right) side. Complemented by flashing white and red lights in the wings, fuselage and tail, they all help to determinate an aircraft’s position and direction. 
Finally, aircraft have their vertical tailfin illuminated by a so-called logo light. More than just solidifying a carrier’s brand identity, such a large bright surface also makes the jetliner more visible – both in the air and on the ground. 
All told, there are a total of 23 external lights on a single-aisle A320 Family jetliner, and 41 on the widebody A350 XWB.
A320neo_Cold weather 1  
10 May 2017 Innovation

Seen head-on, this Airbus A320neo shows its port (left side) and starboard (right side) red and green position lights

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