When your plane starts to land or take off at the airport runway, the beautiful sea of lights gives a mesmerizing sight, especially at night. The lights on the tower sparkle and glow like treasures. But the obstruction beacon at the airport provides more than just aesthetics value for air passengers. They serve an important purpose -- giving signals to pilots and guiding them to safety.
The lights, called aeronautical light beacons, are visual navigational aids. These lights flash either white or colored light indicating the airport or heliport location, a landmark, and obstruction or a certain point at a federal airway in a mountain area. They might be rotating or flashing one or more lights.
A type of aeronautical light beacons at the airport is called obstruction light and is marked or lighted in different combinations. These lights warn pilots of their presence both during daytime and nighttime. The Federal Aviation Administration prescribes rules under the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) to govern all aviation-related activities in the United States. Here’s what an obstruction beacon tell you under the FARs:
- Aviation red obstruction beacon. This red aviation beacon that flashes at about 20 to 40 times per minute is lighted steadily and is painted with orange and red paint to make pilots see them easier at daytime.
- Medium intensity is flashing white obstruction beacon. This light could be used during day and night. However, its intensity is reduced during night time operation. It is generally not installed on structures that are below than 200 feet or 61 meters above ground level (AGL). If structures are more than 499 feet, the orange and white paint is required for daytime marking.
- High-intensity white obstruction beacon. This one flashes high-intensity white light during daytime and reduces its intensity during nighttime operation.
- Dual lighting. During night time operation, these dual obstruction lightings provide a mixture of flashing red signals and steady emission of aviation lights in crimson red. In the daytime, it flashes high-intensity white light.
- Catenary lighting. High-voltage transmission line catenary wires increase the conspicuity of these lighted markets at night while staying conspicuous during the day. There are two types of light for this category:
- The white medium-intensity lighting system alerts air pilots of the associated catenary wires.
- The high-intensity flashing white lights which help in identifying supporting structures of overhead transmission lines that could be found across rivers, gorges, etc.
Pilots see these high-intensity lights flashing in a middle top, with a lower light sequence that flashes about 60 times a minute. Usually, the top light is placed on top of a supporting structure, while the lower light is placed, the lower portion of the wire span. The lights provide visibility to the nearby structure and help pilots to identify the area of the wire span.
High-intensity flashing white lights are also found in tall structures, like chimneys, power utility towers, wind turbines, bridges, communication towers, cell towers, broadcast towers, cranes, building, flare stacks and water tanks, among others. They signal obstructions to air navigators, and these lights provide 360-degree coverage with 40 flashes per minute. The level of lights depends on the height of the structure.
For more information regarding the obstruction beacon, contact Drake Lighting today.