When it comes to airfield lighting products, the rotating beacon light is a simple, yet effective solution to nighttime travel. An airport beacon light is also referred to as an aeronautical beacon or aerodrome beacon. A beacon is a type of visual navigation aid, or NAVAID. They project flashes of colored lights to indicate the location of an airport, heliport, or landmark, or even mountainous terrain similar to obstruction lights. Beacons that emit 12-30 flashes a minute indicate the location of an airport, while those that flash 30 to 60 times per minute indicate a heliport. The daytime operation of rotating beacons is not regulated, so they don’t necessarily need to be on during the daylight, that is sometimes up to the discretion of air traffic control personnel. According to Pilot Workshops, oftentimes rotating beacons are turned on when ground visibility is less than 3 miles or the ceiling is less than 1000 feet. A fully-functioning rotating beacon is integral for a pilot’s safety, which is why beacons must be built to spec. These specifications revolve around the beacon itself, how it’s installed, and tested.

The Anatomy of Airport Beacon Lights

Rotating beacons are a form of airport lighting equipment, and thus must be crafted with nature’s temperament in mind. Airport rotating beacons must be constructed with weatherproof cabinets conforming to the standards of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. They also require rigid steel conduits with wire inside that is rated up to 5,000 volts. Only Aviation Gloss Orange and white paint that is nod-fading can be used. The rotating beacons must also consist of panel boards and breakers, which will be explained in more depth later on.

Airport Beacon Colors

Airport beacons come in several intensities and colors depending on the type of air transportation facility. Civilian land airports uses beacons that flash white and green. Water airport rotating beacons flash white and yellow. Military airports utilizes two quick quite flashes with an alternating green flash. Heliport rotating beacons flash white, yellow, and green. Airport beacons typically uses high or medium intensity lights; for example, the LED medium intensity airport rotating beacon uses 65% less power and has less light pollution than other beacons.

How Do You Install Rotating Beacons?

Airport beacon lights can be mounted on a tower, platform, or roof. They must be hoisted to their final location by slings, but the base and mounting legs should not be strained to fit into holes. The beacon is then bolted into place and leveled. The contractors must service airport rotating beacons according to the manufacturer’s manual. The beacon’s beam intensity is adjusted at night. Rotating beacons must be wired according to various codes, such as the National Fire Protection Association. Contractors must also install circuit breakers in panels in weatherproof cabinets on the side of the beacon as a second form of protection. More information regarding the anatomy and installation of rotating beacons can be found in FAA AC No. 150/5340-30J — Design and Installation Details for Airport Visual Aids.

Manufacturers must craft quality-tested airport lighting solutions to ensure that airport’s are receiving functional and safe products. Hali-Brite provides FAA certified airfield lighting and airport lighting systems. Whether you require a traditional airport rotating beacon, or LED rotating airport beacon, Hali-Brite is here to help.