Task A: Night Preparation

Task A: Night Preparation(ASEL and ASES)

References: FAA-H-8083-3, FAA-H-8083-25; AIM; POH/AFM.

Objective: To determine that the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge of the elements related to night operations by explaining:

Private Pilot PTS What this means… What you need to do to prepare
1. Physiological aspects of night flying as it relates to vision. The examiner will ask you to describe how vision is affected at night, the night vision adaptation process, how the retina’s rods and cones are affected by night, and the best practices for vision during night operations.

The examiner will also ask about the visual illusions that can affect you during the night, for instance the false horizon illusion and night landing illusions.

Study Chapter 10 – Night Operations in the Airplane Flying Handbook and Chapter 16 – Aeromedical Factors in the PHAK.
2. Lighting systems identifying airports, runways, taxiways and obstructions, and pilot controlled lighting. The examiner will ask you to identify the light color of airport beacons, runways, taxiways and obstructions, and how to activate pilot controlled lighting. Typically the examiner will ask this in terms of a flight to a specific airport, prompting you to look up the airport’s lighting in the A/FD and check its operational status in NOTAMs. Study Chapter 13 – Airport Operations in the PHAK. >
3. Airplane lighting systems. The examiner will ask you to explain the light systems that are required to be used at night and best practices for using lights on the ground and in the air.

The examiner will also ask you the location and color of each of the external lights on the aircraft, and how can determine the relative motion of another airplane based upon its lights that are visible to you.

Review 14 CFR 91.209.
4. Personal equipment essential for night flight. The examiner will ask what type of personal equipment will you carry at night. A flashlight with white and red lights, a headlamp with the same, spare bulbs and batteries and a handheld aviation radio are good responses.
5. Night orientation, navigation, and chart reading techniques. The examiner will ask you to decribe route selection, altitude selection, terrain and obstruction identification during night cross country planning.

The examiner will ask you about use of lighting in the cockpit to enhance night vision, and how chart features and cross-country planning is affected by red lens lights.

The examiner will also ask how night cross country checkpoints should be selected, use of visual glide paths at night when approaching an airport, use of radio navigation aids for navigation and approach to airports, and weather hazards that can be encountered during night flight.

The examiner will also ask about the increased dependency and cross-check of the airplane’s flight instruments at night to determine and maintain aircraft control.

Study Chapter 10 – Night Operations in the Airplane Flying Handbook and Chapter 16 – Aeromedical Factors in the PHAK.
6. Safety precautions and emergencies unique to night flying. The examiner will ask about a wide variety of emergencies that could occur at night including:

  • Engine failure
  • Alternator/electrical system failure
  • Inadvertent flight into IMC
  • Radio failure
You need to able to explain how you detect these conditions, the manufacturer’s recommended procedure for these conditions, and how these situations are more hazardous at night.

Study Chapter 10 – Night Operations in the Airplane Flying Handbook and Chapter 16 – Aeromedical Factors in the PHAK

7. Somatogravic illusion and black hole approach illusion. The examiner will ask you to explain these illusions, and more specifically the risks associated with these illusions and your home or nearby airports. These definitions are from Chapter 16 – Aeromedical Factors in the PHAK.

Somatogravic Illusion

A rapid acceleration, such as experienced during takeoff, stimulates the otolith organs in the same way as tilting the head backwards. This action creates the somatogravic illusion of being in a nose-up attitude, especially in situations without good visual references. The disoriented pilot may push the aircraft into a nose-low or dive attitude. A rapid deceleration by quick reduction of the throttle(s) can have the opposite effect, with the disoriented pilot pulling the aircraft into a nose-up or stall attitude.

Featureless Terrain Illusion

An absence of surrounding ground features, as in an overwater approach, over darkened areas, or terrain made featureless by snow, can create an illusion the aircraft is at a higher altitude than it actually is. This illusion, sometimes referred to as the “black hole approach,” causes pilots to fly a lower approach than is desired.