Dennis M asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 1 decade ago

Why green and red lights?

Is there any history as to why the position lights are red of the left and green on the right? Most things have their reasons, I'm wondering if there is a reason for this.


uh... I asked this in the Aircraft section. I assumed people would notice that. I'm talking about the position lights on the wings of an aircraft.

9 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Originally taken from the marine world. Green means go, Red means stop. Similar to a boat's bow lights. When you see green, you are the "privileged" vessel (aircraft, etc.) and may proceed. If you see red, you are the "burdened" vessel and must give way and let the privileged vessel proceed on it's course. Also notice that the lights at the rear of the plane are white, just like a boat's stern or mast light.

  • 1 decade ago

    In 1848 the United Kingdom passed regulations that required steam vessels to display red and green sidelights as well as a white masthead light. In 1849 the U.S. Congress extended the light requirements to sailing vessels. In 1889 the United States convened the first International Maritime Conference to consider regulations for preventing collisions. The resulting Washington Conference Rules were adopted by the U.S in 1890 and became effective internationally in 1897.

  • Steven
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    This is standard navigation / position lighting, for the red light to be on the left and the green light to be on the right. It is derived from marine navigation rules. If you see an aircraft at night you can use the location of the lights to determine what direction the aircraft is moving (i.e., is it moving toward you or away from you).

    Source(s): Pilot
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Same as for boats and ships... red on the port (left) side, green on the starboard (right) side. A white light is affixed to the stern of a boat, and on the tail (or other aft facing structure) of the airplane.

    The lights are designed to be directional, such that if you see both red and green lights, the airplane is coming toward you. If you see green only, you are on the right side of the aircraft, and if you see white only, you are behind the airplane

    You can remember which is which a couple of ways:

    1) "red" and "port" have fewer letters than "green" and "starboard"

    2) port wine is red, therefore the port light is red, leaving the starboard light to be green.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    All the maritime answers are right, it's a holdover. The rest are why you should never do your homework here.

  • Mary
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    I believe it comes from shipping navigation.

    Source(s): pilot
  • 1 decade ago

    Green means correct, calm, safe, good, go

    Red means wrong, danger, stop

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because green means go and red means stop.

  • 1 decade ago

    Red is a really eye catching color and green is calm.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.