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As a passenger I noticed set of five indicators on ceiling at the front of the 737 passenger cabin. They are: red, yellow (or white), blue, white, red.

enter image description here

  • Red ones seem to be coupled together (what could indicate their higher importance and also prevents problem with failed light bulb).

  • On the photo, there seem to be two white indicators but on older models I almost certainly remember that one of them was yellow.

I have seen those indicators in old and new 737 models. I understand they inform the cabin crew of something but I did not find explanation so far.

  • What is the exact purpose of each indicator?

  • Are they controlled manually or automatically?

  • Are they Boeing-specific?

  • How are similar conditions communicated to cabin crew in other similar types of aircrafts (e.g. A320) which do not seem to have these indicators?

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    $\begingroup$ @mins – good to see someone has described similar set of lights on Airbus. This set seems to be somewhat different. It has no green light (see the answer there) and it has white and yellow/amber light (or two white lights). $\endgroup$ – miroxlav Jun 4 '17 at 10:05
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This is the forward Master Call Light Panel installed in the ceiling of the cabin. A second one is located aft. These panels exist on all large aircraft for the cabin crew members to be alerted without staying at their seats.

The number and color of lights vary according to customer requested options for the cabin. Some lights may be duplicated to indicate which side of the cabin is affected (e.g. for the passenger call). These panels are not required by regulation, it's to facilitate the work of cabin crew members.

For the B737

The non customized panel of a B737 looks like this:

enter image description here
Source: Boeing 737 FAM

The lights illuminates and chimes are played:

  • Pink, HI-LO chime: A crew member dialed the forward station number on the cabin interphone handset.
  • Blue, HI chime: A passenger pressed the ATTENDANT CALL switch on the Passenger Service Unit.
  • Amber, HI chime: A passenger in the lavatory pressed the ATTENDANT CALL button.

The white portions are not used, there is no light here.

Source: Boeing 737 NG Flight Attendant Manual (D6-27370-6/7/8/900-FAM).


For the B787

  • Green, HI-LO chime: Cabin crew call.
  • Green flashing, HI-LO chime three times: All call.
  • Pink, HI-LO chime: Flight deck call.
  • Blue, HI chime: Passenger call.
  • Amber, HI chime: Lavatory call.
  • Amber flashing, HI-LO continuous chime: Lavatory smoke.
  • Amber flashing, HI continuous chime: Crew rest smoke.
  • Red: Sterile flight deck (pilots mustn't be disturbed except for safety matters, and attendants must expedite operational activities leaving commercial activities for later).

Source


No doubt in a few years, attendants will receive these indications directly on individual portable devices with more details.

Airbus has its own similar colors and chimes, see:

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In addition to existing answer: Learning material I found later also adds another possible cause for amber light (see slide 41):

smoke is detected in a lavatory

so the amber one can also illuminate automatically.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice find. This is an optional feature, some B737 can have it and other not. $\endgroup$ – mins Jun 4 '17 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ That should be mentioned in those flight magazines that always lay around - that would be some exceptional customer service! ;) $\endgroup$ – SePröbläm Jun 6 '17 at 20:13

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