Low Profile Tail Beacon/Belly Strobe

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    In my quest to reduce drag from the plane, I’m interested in replacing the tail beacon/belly strobe with something low profile, or eliminating them altogether. Obviously the plane still needs to be legal for night flying. But in talking to people who’ve managed to reduce or eliminate their drag profile from the beacon and belly strobe, there are a few knots to be had. Maybe less so on a 310, I don’t know, but I’m curious.

    I’m wondering if anyone has undertaken a project like this, and if so how they’ve gone about it. Goal is lower profile or eliminating the items if possible.


    Well T…..it looks like you and I either don’t have a life or just like to talk airplanes. We seem to be on here a lot. My 310 doesn’t have a “belly” strobe or a beacon. I was surprised that night flight was legal without the beacon. Apparently nav lights are all that is required. I do have wing tip strobes, but that’s it. I have been talking to a couple of my maint shops about adding a beacon on the tail fin but that apparently requires a different vert stab and rudder. Another option was a belly strobe or one on top of the cabin aft of the rear window. That along with my de-ice boots are the things I’m looking at. I really want a new panel with updated radios, but that is out of my reach for now.


    Jack, call it a combination of having to sit in front of a computer, having a BlackBerry, and loving to talk about Twin Cessnas. 😀

    That’s interesting that your plane has neither but has the wingtip strobes. I’ve seen some low profile belly strobes that are interesting to me. While I wouldn’t mind eliminating them, I’d rather have something, just something low profile. But if I had wingtip strobes, maybe I’d think differently.

    What strobes do you have?


    Hey Ted…..

    I would love to tell you what strobes I have but I haven’t a clue….I know they flash when I turn them on and that’s pretty much it. I’ll go into my logs and see if I can find when and who put them on. If the brand name is there I’ll let you know.


    Hey Ted…..well I found what looks like the installation date of 7/ 1981 for the strobes on my 310. The only name I have found so far is “Grimes”. I’m assuming that is the name of the manufacturer. I’ll let you know if I find anything else.


    Ted, what is your idea about a low profile beacon?
    The size? The form?
    Do you have a picture?
    One day I forgot to retract the landing lights at cruise. It took 12 knots.
    So it is a good project.



    The idea is to both reduce the size and also have a more aerodynamic shape. The typical beacons and belly strobes we have are not very aerodynamic at all, and typically pretty large. I’ve heard some people (in smaller, slower planes) report increases of as much as 4 kts. We have larger planes that have more power and more form drag (bigger cabins), but they also go faster. If I was able to get 3 kts out of doing something with the two lights, I would be happy. And I’d probably be happy anyway since it would help update the look of the plane. 🙂

    I’ll make sure to post what I end up doing.


    The belly beacon can be down sized or eliminated fairly easily. The tail beacon and it`s weight is an airworthiness issue and any change has to weigh the same. My 340 also has an OAT sensor next to the belly beacon which looks like ancient history. Any change to this should be an improvement. There are multiple exhaust pipes and other protuberances which may be trimmed ,but without an STC such mods will put the plane into an experimental category with insurance and other problems


    Is there a reason why the weight and specification of the tail beacon would be an airworthiness issue? Especially if earlier models didn’t have one at all.

    The tail beacon is the less aerodynamic of the two, but both have lots of room for improvement.


    Here are pictures of the lights on there right now. Clearly, the trim piece on the vertical tail is designed for a tail beacon with that sized base. So anything I did would be restricted to having a similar size base, or else try to eliminate the tail beacon entirely and swap out the trim piece from an earlier 310 without it.

    The belly strobe looks like it has much more room to play around. I do still want to have something there, just smaller.


    Ted, the belly strobe on my 340 was much larger. I had it removed at the last annual as I have strobes on the wings and tail. The tail beacon is an air worthiness issue since the original certification tests for Vmc. etc. were all done with this weight in place. Its a long way from the cg and even one pound at the tip of the tail can`t be ignored. This is from my AI which I am not. I used to have a Baron 58 and spent a lot of work on drag reduction. Changing antennas from flying wings and towel bars to low profile blades with multiplex radio connections along with flap and aileron seals ,careful rigging etc. gave me about 5 kts increased airspeed at the same cruise power. My Baron was significantly faster than my 340 below 10000 ft. The lighter weight and smaller flat plate drag profile are probably the main reasons. I think we could make some worthwhile improvements in our planes now with many years of material and technology advances since their original design. That said, my family and I are very happy with our 340 and its pressurization. I used Whelen lights on the Baron and recommend LEDs whenever possible.


    Good points, thanks.

    We’ll see what my A&P says. I’ve asked his opinion, since he’s the one who has to sign it off. 🙂

    I figure I’ll probably get 2-3 kts in cruise for the same power at best. I know it’s not a huge improvement, but it would mostly be a feel-good upgrade. I think those are important.


    I have been looking at the Aveo red baron beacons, however, it looks to me that while they are TSO’d there is no STC for a 340. So, what is needed to put one on the tail? They are much lighter in weigh therefore the rudder would need to be rebalanced. Has anyone done this?


    The Aveo lights are really nice. I would love to replace my belly and tail light with this: http://www.aveoengineering.com/index.php/product-info-redbaron-mini


    I’ve never heard of Aveo before, I’ll have to look them up.

    Why would the rudder need to be rebalanced if the tail strobe was changed or eliminated?

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