alexytfc
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Lights mid air

Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:56 pm

Hi. Newbie here.

Was on an Easyjet night time flight a few days ago. Half way through the flight at I guess around 37,000 feet a bright light by the engine came on and went off. This happened 3 times with about 10 seconds between each 'flash'. These lights are the ones I believe normally switched on for landing. Does anyone know why this happened? Flashing at other aircraft? Thanks for anyone that answers! Alex
 
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atcsundevil
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Re: Lights mid air

Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:23 pm

alexytfc wrote:
Hi. Newbie here.

Was on an Easyjet night time flight a few days ago. Half way through the flight at I guess around 37,000 feet a bright light by the engine came on and went off. This happened 3 times with about 10 seconds between each 'flash'. These lights are the ones I believe normally switched on for landing. Does anyone know why this happened? Flashing at other aircraft? Thanks for anyone that answers! Alex

I'm not a pilot, but I believe they were using the wing lights to check for icing. Certain conditions can aid in the formation of icing, so they'd need to check if there's icing occurring, and what type of icing they're experiencing.
 
flybaurlax
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Re: Lights mid air

Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:57 pm

It could also be a "wave" hello to a company aircraft passing nearby.
Boilerup! Go Purdue!
 
AA737-823
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Re: Lights mid air

Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:02 pm

While ATCSunDevil could be right, it's more likely that they'd been made aware of a nearby aircraft by ATC, and the two planes were probably flashing lights to try to help establish visual contact.

OTOH, FlyBaurLax, if Easyjet was going to flash lights at other company aircraft, they'd never quit flashing lights.
 
N353SK
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Re: Lights mid air

Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:59 pm

Those lights are for checking the wing for ice accretion, but it's highly doubtful an aircraft would be picking up ice at that altitude. As others have mentioned, they were probably trying to illuminate themselves so that they'd be easier for crossing traffic to see.

Although the inspection lights are on for landing, the actual landing lights on the airbus are on the bottom of the wing - they retract for cruise flight and pop out when needed like a 1980s sports car.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Lights mid air

Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:38 pm

On a night time flight with no moon if we think we might be in cloud we sometimes use the landing lights to determine if we actually are, and how thick the soup is. Helps with turbulence and icing threat assessment.

AA737-823 wrote:
While ATCSunDevil could be right, it's more likely that they'd been made aware of a nearby aircraft by ATC, and the two planes were probably flashing lights to try to help establish visual contact.

OTOH, FlyBaurLax, if Easyjet was going to flash lights at other company aircraft, they'd never quit flashing lights.


At 37000 feet ATC typically doesn't tell you about other traffic way. You're way up in RVSM airspace. You'll see other aircraft on TCAS.

Just a nitpick but the landing lights are retractable on the 32x. On the 330/340 and 350 they're embedded in the wing root. (Yes I know this is EasyJet so no 330s.)
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
alexytfc
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Re: Lights mid air

Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:20 pm

Thanks for the answers guys, most appreciated.
 
Whiteguy
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Re: Lights mid air

Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:36 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
On a night time flight with no moon if we think we might be in cloud we sometimes use the landing lights to determine if we actually are, and how thick the soup is. Helps with turbulence and icing threat assessment.

AA737-823 wrote:
While ATCSunDevil could be right, it's more likely that they'd been made aware of a nearby aircraft by ATC, and the two planes were probably flashing lights to try to help establish visual contact.

OTOH, FlyBaurLax, if Easyjet was going to flash lights at other company aircraft, they'd never quit flashing lights.


At 37000 feet ATC typically doesn't tell you about other traffic way. You're way up in RVSM airspace. You'll see other aircraft on TCAS.

Just a nitpick but the landing lights are retractable on the 32x. On the 330/340 and 350 they're embedded in the wing root. (Yes I know this is EasyJet so no 330s.)


ATC actually does tell you about other traffic quite often. Depends on the controller and how busy they are. Lots of crews will give a quick flash of the lights going by, I'm sure that's what this was. You wouldn't be checking for ice on the wings at the higher altitudes....
 
skyhawkmatthew
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Re: Lights mid air

Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:24 am

Whiteguy wrote:

ATC actually does tell you about other traffic quite often. Depends on the controller and how busy they are. Lots of crews will give a quick flash of the lights going by, I'm sure that's what this was. You wouldn't be checking for ice on the wings at the higher altitudes....


ATC traffic information at altitude, in my experience, tends only to happen in North America.

While you may not be checking the wings visually for ice (you can't see them from the cockpit of my aircraft, anyway), as Starlionblue said, we sometimes flick the landing lights on to see how thick the cloud layer we're in is. Not sure about other types, but on the 777 to preserve the filaments, the landing lights are actually never fully off, and if it's dark enough with thick enough cloud outside, you can actually see the very dim beams still projecting forward with the lights "off."
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VSMUT
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Re: Lights mid air

Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:11 pm

We often switch to landing lights on and off at night if we see an aircraft on the TCAS heading the other way a level above or below us. A kind of greeting you could say.

On the ATR we also switch on the wing lights from time to time to check for ice. From time to time I will also switch it on the landing lights if I suspect we are in clouds, which is also related to ice protection.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Lights mid air

Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:55 am

Whiteguy wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
On a night time flight with no moon if we think we might be in cloud we sometimes use the landing lights to determine if we actually are, and how thick the soup is. Helps with turbulence and icing threat assessment.

AA737-823 wrote:
While ATCSunDevil could be right, it's more likely that they'd been made aware of a nearby aircraft by ATC, and the two planes were probably flashing lights to try to help establish visual contact.

OTOH, FlyBaurLax, if Easyjet was going to flash lights at other company aircraft, they'd never quit flashing lights.


At 37000 feet ATC typically doesn't tell you about other traffic way. You're way up in RVSM airspace. You'll see other aircraft on TCAS.

Just a nitpick but the landing lights are retractable on the 32x. On the 330/340 and 350 they're embedded in the wing root. (Yes I know this is EasyJet so no 330s.)


ATC actually does tell you about other traffic quite often. Depends on the controller and how busy they are. Lots of crews will give a quick flash of the lights going by, I'm sure that's what this was. You wouldn't be checking for ice on the wings at the higher altitudes....


Though uncommon, you can get icing at cruise altitude. The temperature at 37000 feet the other day was ISA +16, making it -39. That's within the "possible icing" range if you're in cloud, albeit barely.

Didn't know that in the North America ATC will tell you about other traffic at cruise levels. Learn something every day! I've rarely encountered it, except sometimes over the Philippines, and even then typically only to tell you about other traffic which is climbing or descending.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
VSMUT
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Re: Lights mid air

Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:01 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
Didn't know that in the North America ATC will tell you about other traffic at cruise levels. Learn something every day! I've rarely encountered it, except sometimes over the Philippines, and even then typically only to tell you about other traffic which is climbing or descending.


A nice change from Italy though, where controllers seem to throw everything at you without saying anything.

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