NZ Aircraft Lights: Requirements & Configurations

All aircraft:

The Civil Aviation Authority of NZ requires that all aircraft flying in the NZ skies be fitted with the following anti-collision lights:

A red rotating beacon, or a red/white strobe light, usually fitted to the tail fin, but may be on the top of the fuselage.
A small red light fitted to the left wing tip.
A small green light fitted to the right wing tip.
A small white light fitted to the rear of the aircraft.

Passenger airliners:

Large passenger aircraft may also have extra strobe lights fitted to the underneath fuselage, and on the wing tips to enhance their visibility to other aircraft.


On helicopters, anti-collision lights are fitted to the appropriate extremities of the airframe, but due to the compact size of a helicopter, the bright strobe light will normally be the only light seen. The strobe light is usually positioned on the tail boom.

Landing lights:

Aircraft, including helicopters, are also fitted with very bright landing lights which may be positioned on the nose or in the leading edge of the wings. The lights are switched on during the approach to, or departure from airports and aerodromes, both day and night. During the day, these landing lights are switched on to enhance the sighting of that aircraft by other pilots or by ATC, as well as an anti bird strike measure.

Searchlights / spotlights:

These types of lights are usually confined to military aircraft, and police or search and rescue helicopters. It is quite common for helicopters operating at night to use search lights or spotlights, and they are sometimes mistaken for UFOs.
It is unusual for civilian aircraft to be fitted with searchlights.

Atmospheric scintillation:

Due to atmospheric refraction, light from bright stars fluctuating through the red/green spectrum can often be mistaken for aircraft red/green lights. Generally, the lateral movement of such lights will indicate the positive presence of an aircraft.

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