Do Drones Have Lights? And What Do They Look Like At Night?

In the dark of night, have you ever wondered whether those strange red and green lights in the sky were stars or drones? The good news is that you’re not the only one experiencing this! Drones look like this at night after I performed some study into their nighttime appearance.

Most amateur drones feature some kind of lighting system. Night vision may reveal these lights, which appear as solid white, green, or red dots on the sky. White, green, and red LEDs may also be observed flickering or strobing. When the sun goes down at night, they may be seen from a distance of a mile away.

Types Of Drone Lights And What They Look Like At Night

01. Navigation Lights.

It’s common for these lights to be solid, which means they don’t flash or strobe. Most people view a drone’s lights as white, green, or red, depending on the time of day or night.

02. Anti-Collision Lights.

Blinking or strobing lights are the most common appearance of these lights. These lights are often green, white, or red in hue.

Even if you don’t have to select between anti-collision lights and navigation lights while flying a drone, it’s great to know the differences.

Anti-collision lights on a drone were unheard of only a few years ago. However, nowadays they are rather prevalent. It’s very uncommon for firms to design drone lighting systems that let you choose between several light patterns, giving your drone a unique advantage. Nice!

Allowing pilots to select whether to use a given light for anti-collision or navigation makes it simpler for them to see what is going on.

All of this may seem amazing, but you may be thinking whether these lights are really essential. To put it another way, is it a legal need that drones carry lights?

Are Drones Required to Have Lights?

Civil aviation in the United States is regulated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), a department of the Department of Transportation.

So what does the FAA say about drone lights? Do you have to have them or not?

At various times of the day, the FAA has varying illumination regulations for aviation enthusiasts. As a result, the legislation that applies to you will vary based on the time of day. A quick rundown:

Daylight

As a general rule, this is defined as 30 minutes before to dawn to 30 minutes after sunset in your local time zone. When it’s daytime, anti-collision lighting is not necessary. Flights during daylight are not subject to any FAA lighting rules.

Morning and Evening Civil Twilight

Typically, civil twilight in the early morning begins an hour before dawn and lasts for 30 minutes before sunrise. Civil twilight in the evening is often characterised as lasting an hour and a half after sunset. Anti-collision lighting is required for drone flights conducted at dusk or dawn.

Night

After sunset and before dawn, this is often referred to as civil twilight transition period. The FAA mandates anti-collision lighting for any drone flights conducted at this time of night.

When it comes to the employment of anti-collision lights, there is still some uncertainty. As a result, I strongly advise using drone anti-collision lights with extreme caution at all times.
Even on a gloomy day, you should deploy your flares whenever you believe they would aid other pilots in spotting your aircraft. Taking precautions is always preferable than making a mistake.

Why Do Drones Have Anti-Collision Lights?

Why would you need anti-collision lights on your drone if your drone already has navigation lights?

Before you take to the skies at night, you’ll want to be sure your drone is equipped with these lights. Take a look at this:

Helping you

The anti-collision lights on the drone allows you to see the drone more clearly at night. Despite the fact that your drone may be equipped with built-in drone lights, these lights are almost non-existent during the day and are not very noticeable at night. At night, anti-collision lights are very visible and make it much simpler for pilots to locate their drones in the sky.

Helping others

Anti-collision drone lights are also a big help for anyone that might be nearby you at the time so they can also spot your drone in the sky. Whether they are a civilian, authorities, or another pilot, they need to be able to see your drone at night too.

Safety

There is one thing you should keep in mind while flying at night: it is really dark, and after your drone reaches several hundred feet in the air, it will be much more difficult to see it.

Even if you manage to lose sight of your drone, the consequences might be catastrophic! Your drone might crash and cause significant damage, or even worse, you could cause serious injury to someone.

Bryan V. Root
Bryan V. Root
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