Fluorescent lamps have proven to be well suited for use in high performance avionic backlight systems as demonstrated by numerous production applications for both commercial and military cockpit displays. Cockpit display applications include: Boeing 777, new 737s, F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, C- 130, Navy P3, NASA Space Shuttle and many others. Fluorescent lamp based backlights provide high luminance, high lumen efficiency, precision chromaticity and long life for avionic active matrix liquid crystal display applications. Lamps have been produced in many sizes and shapes. Lamp diameters range from 2.6 mm to over 20 mm and lengths for the larger diameter lamps range to over one meter. Highly convoluted serpentine lamp configurations are common as are both hot and cold cathode electrode designs. This paper will review fluorescent lamp operating principles, discuss typical requirements for avionic grade lamps, compare avionic and laptop backlight designs and provide guidelines for the proper application of lamps and performance choices that must be made to attain optimum system performance considering high luminance output, system efficiency, dimming range and cost.