Part 11: Installing 3-position LED lights (and replacing the AeroFlash / Whelan strobes)

Since we have full access to the insides of our wings we decided that this was the perfect time to upgrade to new LED (light emiting diodes) lights. Note that this is not part of the Upgrade Package prescribed in AMD's Safety Alert and the FAA's SAIB - this is just an opportune time to install them (and also allows us to save a few pounds in the process).

This is the original Aeroflash-Signal anti-collision/position light assembly (nav/strobe light) on the left wingtip:

This is the strobe power supply box, located in both wings behind the spar (outboard ends):

We drilled out and removed the two wingtip nav/strobe lights as well as the two strobe power supply boxes (below left) to replace with the Zenair-branded Pulsar NS nav/position/strobe LED lights (below right):

The NS model is developed as a direct replacement (for Aeroflash-Signal or Whelan), using the same rivet holes for the Y-shaped aluminum mounting bracket, shown below:

Roger connects the wires:

The light locks tightly into place in the mounting bracket, and is secured by a rear set screw.

These super-bright LEDs are mounted in a very attractive anodized aluminum base (with clear polycarbonate lens) that is virtually indestructible, and the installed unit looks just great. These lights are truly impressive when turned on.

Below, we weigh the difference between the two lighting systems on our mailroom scale:
On the left, the original wingtip anti-collision/position light and strobe power box removed from the aircraft: 1 lb. 7.1 oz. (or 0.66 kg). On the right, the new AeroLED NS unit weighs in at 3.4 oz. (or just under 100 grams).

Here's the video of us installing the 3-position LED lights:

(The video does not give justice to the brightness of these LEDs - I guess the camera automatically adjusts and tries to equalize the lighting...).

We'll also plan to replace the conventional old-style GE landing lights with LEDs, with cool wig-wag (flashing) feature.

We chose the AeroLED lights due to their high quality and durability. Made in the USA, the LEDs provide a significant reduction in current draw over conventional position light bulbs, and we offer them as a Zenair-branded unit at a substantial reduced cost available only to our customers, currently $745.00 for a pair. Click here for more info.
We also supply an attractive low-profile and longer unit, the ExP model, that's not designed as a replacement unit but for new installations. We use this model on our STOL CH 750 as well as the CH 650.

These AeroLED nav/position/strobe lights are designed from a “clean sheet” utilizing advanced mechanical/electrical computer modeling and optical ray-tracing software to accurately predict the performance of the installed light. Features include:
* Lifetime Buy (these LEDs and the housing unit are designed to last the lifetime of the airframe);
* Includes White Position Light (no need for additional rear tail light on rudder);
* Zero Maintenance (requires no maintenance during its lifetime);
* Reduced Power Consumption (uses 80% less power than legacy products);
* Elimination of Environmentally harmful substances (no Xenon or mercury);
* Extended Light Performance (doesn’t experience “accelerated light degradation” common to legacy products);
* Elimination of RF Noise (no more headset “Ping-Ping” noise that emanates from legacy products’ strobe power supply);
* Reduced System Weight;
* Reduced Aero-dynamic Drag;
* Direct Retro-Fit (will seamlessly replace legacy product with no mounting modification);
* Multi-Voltage (PULSAR will accept voltage input from 9-30VDC).

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Comment by Philip Jones on November 20, 2009 at 1:49pm
OK, I looked it up. This seems to be the relevant section:
Sec. 23.1385
(c) Rear position light. The rear position light must be a white light mounted as far aft as practicable on the tail or on each wing tip.

So, I guess it is legal, but I would still like to know if you are going to remove the tail light and what you are going to do about the hole if you do.
Comment by Sebastien Heintz on November 20, 2009 at 11:55am
This is a "three-in-one" unit, with nav (green / red), position (white on back), and strobe. Most older systems (such as the Aeroflash-Signal unit we replaced) are two-in-one: nav and strobe, but no position. Note that it's the builder's responsibility to make sure the lights, as installed, meet the FAR requirements.
Comment by Jake Reyna on November 20, 2009 at 8:39am
That's a significant weight savings if my math is correct, 2 lb, 7 oz., plus the weight saved by replacing the GE landing lights will exceed 1 1/2 pounds per wing at the tips, very nice.
Comment by Philip Jones on November 20, 2009 at 7:55am
Why is there no need for a tail light on the rudder with these units as opposed to the xenon units? How does their brightness or other features compensate for the requirement to have a rear position light? Are you going to remove the tail light? If so, how do you intend to patch the hole?

Also, you appear to have riveted the skin back on the wing. Are you not going to install the counterweights on the ailerons, or do you think that is easier to do with the skin re-installed?

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