Advanced Pilot Programs

FS Techniques - What are those lights/What do they mean?

by Ed Turner Jr

Last Updated: March 14, 2006


PART 4: WHAT ARE THOSE LIGHTS / WHAT DO THEY MEAN?

You are flying along in a rental J-3; you have a battery-operated radio with the battery located under the pilot’s seat. It was fun to be alone in the airplane on a long final when the RADIO QUIT.  You could either fish around under the seat while trying to keep the airplane upright, or just keep coming and let the tower figure out you were NORDO (If it is necessary for a flight to cross the airport prior to joining crosswind, this should be done at least 500 feet above circuit height, and descent to circuit height should be made in the upwind area of the active runway).

If the failure happened far enough out, the accepted practice would be to enter on a right 45 and rock your wings periodically. But you were not far out to do any wing rocking, but on the other hand, lets suppose you were transmit only and knew it going in. You made one transmission advising the tower of your predicament and location, then circled just above the class D airspace until they had time to sequence you in with those light signals. So the PUN to this story is: “ if you know what those lights are and you know what they mean, you will be able to thank the controller for the special handling”, you just might surprise the controller with you special knowledge of ATC Light Signals.

Traffic control: Traffic cop or ATC (Air Traffic Control), both deal with a service, and both are charged with the authority to promote the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of traffic. In either case before the lights came along drivers handled their intentions with hand signals. Pilots handled their intentions with signals such as wing tipping, or like one flyer who yelled from the cockpit of his plane to get attention.

ATC Light Signals

Color and type of signal For aircraft on the surface For aircraft in flight
Steady green Cleared for take off. Cleared to land.
Flashing green Cleared to taxi. Return for landing (to
be followed by steady green
at proper time)
Steady red Stop Give way to other aircraft and
continue circling.
Flashing red Taxi clear of runway in use. Airport unsafe—do not land.
Flashing white Return to starting point on Not applicable.
airport.
Alternating red and green Exercise extreme caution. Exercise extreme caution.

 

 

This segment of Advance FS Techniques deals with the use of A hand held directional light signaling device which emits a brilliant narrow beam of white, green, or red light as selected by the tower controller.  The color and type of light transmitted can be used to approve or disapprove anticipated pilot actions where radio communication is not available.  The light gun is used for controlling traffic operating in the vicinity of the airport and on the airport movement area.  Signals by the tower controller in the case of lost radio communications. In case of the occurrence of an inoperable radio or lost communication with the tower, you must understand light gun signals that the tower will flash. 

 

Here are 15 questions to test your knowledge; question 15 is a Bonus question. May the Lights be with You. 

 

1.       Aircraft A is taxing, aircraft B is continually circling, what color light signals?

a)      A green B flashing green.

b)      A green, B flashing red.

c)      A flashing green B steady red.

2.       Race Runner Ray was taxing and did not see the flashing red signal, should he have returned to the starting

Point anyway?

a)      True

b)      False

3.       Flashing red light, a pilot should:

a)      Give way to other aircraft and continue circling.

b)      Return for landing.

c)      Not land, airport unsafe.

4.       Steady green, cleared to:

a)      Land

b)      Not applicable

c)      Stop

5.       You are on approach, see flashing white light, what should you do?

a)      Land any way

b)      Not applicable

c)      Taxi clear of runway

d)      a and b

6.       You are the Captain of BlueSky 747, heading is 301’, VS “0”, KIAS “0”, you are probably:

a)      on the ground waiting to return to starting point as result of flashing white light.

b)      Waiting for clearance to taxi.

c)      stopped as result of steady red light.

7.       On the ground, flashing red light, aircraft should be:

a)      Stopped

b)      Taxing clear of  runway in use

c)      Cleared to land

8.       On  the  ground, steady red light, aircraft should be stopped.

a)      True

b)      False

c)      Flashing red

               

9.       On the ground, steady green, aircraft cleared to land.

a)      True

b)      False

10.   Exercising extreme caution applies to pilots:

a)      on the ground

b)      in the air

c)      ignoring the white light because it does not apply to them.

d)      Paying attention to the alternating red and green light.

11.   ATC provides a service charged with the authority to send light signals to aircraft on the surface and in flight where applicable.

a)      True

b)      False

12.   If a radio fails far enough out, what is the accepted practice?

a)      turn 45’ and rock the airplane’s wings.

b)      Circle just below class D airspace.

c)      Enter on a right 45 and rock the wings.

13.   Define NORDO

a)      If the radio quits, you keep flying the airplane upright.

b)      If it is necessary for a flight to cross the airport prior to joining upwind, this should be done at least 500 feet above circuit height, and descent to circuit height should be made in the upwind area of the active runway.

c)       If it is necessary for a flight to cross the airport prior to joining crosswind, this should be done at least 500 feet above circuit height, and descent to circuit height should be made in the downwind area of the active runway.

d)      If it is necessary for a flight to cross the airport prior to joining crosswind, this should be done at least 500 feet above circuit height, and descent to circuit height should be made in the upwind area of the active runway.

e)       None of the above

14.   You are captain in bluesky 747 at St. Louis Lambert Intl. Airport in position at rwy 30L, a 777 is on approach To rwy 30L, a WestWind b1900 is setting up to follow tower light signal direction, flashing green light, a 737 was just given clearance to follow direction of steady green light for rwy 30R, when all of sudden an Airbus-380 in trouble is given light signal directions to land, rwy 12R. Assign appropriate (new) light signals to each of the aircrafts listed above, or below a) b) c) d) e).

a)      747

b)      777

c)      Wwab1900

d)      737

e)      Airbus-380

15.   Which aviator yelled from the cockpit of his plane and wanted to know the directions to Ireland?

Hint, the aircraft max speed was 208km/hr, the engine: a 223 hp WW J-5

Here are the Answers:

1-c  2-b  3-c  4-a  5-d  6-c  7-b  8-a  9-b  10-a-b-c-d  11-a  12-c  13-d  14a-flashing red  14b-steady red  14c-steady red  14d-flashing red  14e-steady green  alternating red and green   15. Charles Augustus Lindbergh



NOT TO BE USED IN REAL WORLD FLIGHT. NO PARTS OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE REPRINTED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.

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