Aircraft Indicator Lights Explained

It’s not hard to imagine why an airplane would have external lights. It should be the same reason that automobiles or marine craft have them, visibility. Indicator lights give information on the vehicle’s position, heading, and status, making it easy for nearby vehicles and personnel to be aware of what’s happening. For airplanes, there are 5 different types of indicator lights: navigation/position lights, strobe lights, a red rotating beacon, heading Indicator, taxi & landing lights, and logo lights.

Navigation/position lights are the high intensity red and green lights on the wingtips used to signal the airplane’s position. The left/port side is red and the right/starboard side is green, making it easy for nearby aircraft to see which direction the airplane is coming from.

Strobe lights are the high intensity flashing lights located on the wingtips next to the navigation/position lights. They’re the brightest lights on the airplane, enabling other pilots to see the position of the airplane even miles away. Strobe lights are so bright because they’re part of the airplane’s anti-collision light system.

The red rotating beacon is the blinking red light on the top and bottom of the airplane. Also a part of the anti-collision light system, red rotating beacons are a warning to the crew and other ground personnel that the surrounding area is not safe for work. Larger jet engines are powerful enough to suck people or throw them several feet away with their extremely hot and high speed exhaust gas.

Taxi and landing lights are the forward facing lights on the nose gear strut and under the wing near the fuselage, respectively. They’re used to light up the runway and taxiway during takeoff and landing. While not a part of the anti-collision light system, taxi and landing lights are still very bright and capable of causing retinal damage.

And last but not least, logo lights are the simple lights located on the tail fin of the airplane. As their name implies, they’re used to illuminate the logo of the airline company at night.

Paragon Purchasing, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, is one of the premier supplier of aviation parts. From lighting fixtures and bulbs to wing and fuselage components, we have it all. If you’re interested in a quote or more information about indicator lights, visit us at or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


November 20, 2023

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