Helicopter Rotor blade tip lighting system

I was having a look at this picture on, wondering why rotor blades can’t have a light on their wingtip so as to make the rotor conspicuous to ground crew. Here is the photo by Marcin N:

Rotor tip apparently reflecting off ambient light. Looks like something else, but I'm not the photographer, so I can't know for sure!


But, it looks like the US DoD has beaten me to it! read this news release, read at Avionics Intelligence: For sure it will be LED, nothing else!

Experimental helicopter rotor blade tip safety lighting system under development by EMTEQ

Nov 12, 2010

Posted by John Keller

NEW BERLIN, Wis., 12 Nov. 2010. The not-too-distant future may see a whole new approach to helicopter-based aircraft safety lighting potentially as a result of a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) research project to develop a rotor blade tip lighting system.

The DOD and the U.S. Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Va., awarded phase-one Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) to EMTEQ in New Berlin, Wis., to design and build a nighttime lightweight rotor blade tip lighting system that could be modulated to provide red, green, and white navigation lights. 

EMTEQ’s rotor blade tip lighting system may involve a hover mode to clearly mark the complete rotor disk circumference to ground crew, as well as a low-observable, night-vision goggle (NVG)-compatible mode for night formation flight.

A lighting system attached to the blade tips would enable navigation lights to display directly at the edges of the rotor disk, which experts say would greatly improve visibility to other aircraft.

The six-month first phase this program is to gauge the scientific, technical, and commercial merit of a helicopter rotor blade tip lighting system. Phase II, of the project continues, would involve fabricating a full-scale version of the system for demonstration. Phase III would build flight-qualified technology for incorporation in experimental and/or production aircraft. 

For more information contact EMTEQ online at

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