PAPI LIGHTS How to use them? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE

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PAPI LIGHTS How to use them? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE

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Dear friends and followers, welcome back to my channel and to a great video about visual aids for pilots. We´ll be looking at the PAPI lights, how they work, and especially how to use them whilst you´re on approach.

The PAPI is a light array positioned beside the runway. It normally consists of four equi-spaced light units color-coded to provide a visual indication of an aircraft’s position relative to the designated glideslope for the runway. An abbreviated system consisting of two light units can be used for some categories of aircraft operations. The international standard for PAPI is published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Aerodromes, Annex 14 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Volume 1, Chapter 5. National regulations generally adopt the standards and recommended practices published by ICAO. An earlier glideslope indicator system, the visual approach slope indicator (VASI) is now obsolete and was deleted from Annex 14 in 1995. The VASI only provided guidance down to heights of 60 metres (200 ft) whereas PAPI provides guidance down to flare initiation (typically 15 metres, or 50 ft).

The PAPI is usually located on the left-hand side of the runway at right angles to the runway center line. The units are spaced 9 meters apart with the nearest unit 15 meters from the runway edge. A PAPI can, if required, be located on the right-hand side of the runway. At some locations PAPIs are installed on both sides of the runway but this level of provision is beyond the requirements of ICAO. The light characteristics of all light units are identical. In good visibility conditions the guidance information can be used at ranges up to 5 miles (8.0 km) by day and night. At night the light bars can be seen at ranges of at least 20 miles (32 km).

Each light unit consists of one or more light sources, red filters and lenses. Each light unit emits a high-intensity beam. The lower segment of the beam is red, and the upper part is white. The transition between the two colours must take place over an angle not greater than three minutes of arc. This characteristic makes the color change very conspicuous, a key feature of the PAPI signal. To form the PAPI guidance signal, the color transition boundaries of the four units are fixed at different angles. The lowest angle is used for the unit furthest from the runway, the highest for the unit nearest to the runway. The designated glideslope is midway between the second and third light unit settings. Depending on the position of the aircraft relative to the specified angle of approach, the lights will appear either red or white to the pilot. The pilot will have reached the normal glidepath (usually 3 degrees) when there is an equal number of red and white lights. If an aircraft is beneath the glidepath, red lights will outnumber white; if an aircraft is above the glidepath, more white lights are visible.

PAPI systems are readily available from airfield lighting manufacturers worldwide. PAPI is normally operated by air traffic control (ATC). If ATC services are not normally provided at an aerodrome, PAPI along with other airport lights may be activated by the pilot by keying the aircraft microphone with the aircraft’s communication radio tuned to the CTAF or dedicated pilot controlled lighting (PCL) frequency.

Thank you very much for your time! I hope you enjoy this basic introduction video about the PAPI!
Wishing you all the best!

Your “Captain” Joe

Into Song:
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Joakim Karud & Dyalla – Wish you were here

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50 thoughts on “PAPI LIGHTS How to use them? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE

  1. I still don't understand the hype behind the 747 and the 737. They are just problematic. I thought I knew much about PAPIs, until today. Thanks Captain Joe.

  2. Hi captain joe I remember you discussing this but I was just curious what plane you fly and what airline you fly for and which airport do you fly into in New York if you fly there

  3. What is the average lifespan of a commercial airplane? And do they measure how long it has been in service by, for example, having an hour counter of some sort, or do they just count the days?

  4. Dear Captain,
    When an airplane is landing cross wind , i know its not possible but lets say the cross wind speed is equal to the landing speed of the aircraft , scientifically, is it possible that the plane will land on ground at zero speed?

  5. hi Joe i have i question, why does it sometimes seem like planes are not moving in mid-air . why because i was driving with ma and dadda and i saw a plane and it semt like it was not moving please explain why?

  6. Hey Joe! Please make a video talking about flight school and the difficulty of the aviation exams. Thank you! Wish you great flights with Cargolux and the Queen of the Skies!

  7. Dear Captain Joe, I love your channel ! Please make a video about flight charts. There are different types, some issued by organisations like FAA, there are also private chart makers like Jeppessen. Now we also have apps like ForeFlight.

  8. Hey Captain Joe, I got a very very important question for you. Recently I was on a Boeing 737-800 from Varadero, Cuba to Toronto, Canada. The flight took off about 3:30 A.M. local time and after takeoff, did not climb much and instead I could see the moon reflected in the ocean not far off. The plane felt like it was not going to climb for a long time and throughout the 1 hour after takeoff, it just seemed so close to the city lights down on the ground. Finally, about an hour after takeoff, the captain announced that we have reached our cruising altitude of 38000 feet. I just want to know why a plane will take a hour to reach cruise altitude when normally it takes around 20 minutes? BTW, i did see slight flashes of lightning while taking off, but that dissipated after around 15 minutes. So why would it take 1 hour to reach flight Level 380? Thank you for reading this.

  9. Hello Captain,

    First of all, thank you for this channel and its excellent content. I had two questions however:

    1. From a lot of videos, I can see that the captain does an external check of the plane before starting; why is that? What do you check that the ground personnel didn't already?
    2. The 787 Dreamliner uses an electric AC unit; fine, but when will we see the complete disappearance of the APU and electric motors driving the wheels for taxi and takeoff (provide thrust)/landing (regenerative braking)? I was appalled to learn that an APU consumes tens of liters a minute and that taxi fuel is counted in hundreds of kg (I even heard 1.2 tons for taxi for an a380)…

  10. like the video. but i need your help, airlines hiring pilots currently require the applicants to have experience in the airplane type he wants to fly. how do i gain this experience if that is my first airline job

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