Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

1 Answers

What’s the bright white light for?

Asked by: 1307 views Commercial Pilot

Hello. I live inside the traffic pattern of McCarren airport in Las Vegas, Nv. My question, is one of curiosity...Commercial heavy aircraft, after takeoff, while they are still in the pattern, I have noticed at night (of course) that a bright white light, seems to be aimed back at the tower. It's not a landing light, but seems to emanate from the side of some aircraft. Also, the light will turn on and off sometimes as much as five times. I'm a private pilot, and have noticed this activity frequently as planes fly off over my house. Is it some sort of communication? Does this light come on when the pilot keys his microphone? I hope someone has an answer, this is bugg'n me big time!

Ace Any FAA Written Test!
Actual FAA Questions / Free Lifetime Updates
The best explanations in the business
Fast, efficient study.
Pass Your Checkride With Confidence!
FAA Practical Test prep that reflects actual checkrides.
Any checkride: Airplane, Helicopter, Glider, etc.
Written and maintained by actual pilot examiners and master CFIs.
The World's Most Trusted eLogbook
Be Organized, Current, Professional, and Safe.
Highly customizable - for student pilots through pros.
Free Transition Service for users of other eLogs.
Our sincere thanks to pilots such as yourself who support AskACFI while helping themselves by using the awesome PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android aviation apps of our sponsors.

1 Answers



  1. Kris Kortokrax on Nov 24, 2015

    The lights are not used for communication.
    They are not activated by the pilot keying the microphone.

    There are numerous exterior lights on larger airplanes besides landing, taxi and anti-collision.

    Logo lights shine on the company’s logo on the tail.
    Ice lights on some aircraft shine on the wing so the crew can see if there is ice forming on the wing.
    Recognition lights for extra visibility, typically on below 10,000 feet.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 1 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes


The following terms have been auto-detected the question above and any answers or discussion provided. Click on a term to see its definition from the Dauntless Aviation JargonBuster Glossary.

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.