Unit 3 – Introduction to Night Operations

Preflight Exercises

For your first night flight, plan to fly to Mather Field to practice night takeoffs and landings.

Obtain a weather briefing from LMFSWeb and 1-800-WXBRIEF for the local area. Pay special attention to those conditions that can lead to hazardous weather during VFR night flight, such as temperature/dewpoint spreads that are forecast to narrow.

Complete all portions of the Preflight Briefing Sheet.

Preflight the airplane using your checklist. Ensure to preflight both external and internal lighting.

Preflight Discussion
Topic Be able to answer: Resources to study:
Practical Knowledge

Night Operations

Night Vision

  • Describe how the structure of the retina affects night vision?
  • What is night vision adaptation?
  • How does the eye’s blind spot affect night vision?
  • How can you prepare your vision for night adaptation?
  • What steps can you take to improve your night vision in flight?

Night Illusions

  • Describe false horizon illusion.
  • Describe autokinesis illusion.
  • Describe the black hole approach illusion.
  • Describe the bright light approach illusion.
  • Describe somatogravic illusion.

Night equipment

  • What additional equipment will you carry for a night flight?
  • How does a red light affect the readability of aviation charts at night?

Aircraft Equipment and lighting

  • What additional equipment is required to operate your airplane during a VFR night flight?
  • Describe the position lights installed on your airplane.
  • Describe how you can determine the relative motion of another airplane based upon their position lights.
  • What interior lighting is installed in your airplane?
  • How do you control the interior lighting in your airplane?

Airport Lighting

  • Describe the airport beacons used at civil airports, military airports and heliports?
  • How can you determine if a field has beacon?
  • How are obstructions lit at night?
  • Describe how wind direction indicators and segmented circles are lit.
  • Describe runway lighting.
  • Describe runway threshold lighting.
  • Describe taxiway lighting.
  • What are REIL lights?
  • How do you determine the types of airport lighting that is used at your destination airport?
  • How do you determine the procedure for activating pilot-controlled lighting at your destination airport?
  • How do you determine the operating status of your destination’s airport light?

Preflight Preparation

Engine Start and Taxi

  • How should you use interior lighting?
  • What does an operating beacon indicate to pilots in other aircraft?
  • What does an operating taxi light indicate to pilots in other aircraft?
  • What does an operating landing light indicate to pilots in other aircraft?
  • Before starting the engine, what precautions will you take?
  • How do you activate the pilot control lighting prior to taxi?
  • Before letting any passenger disembark at night, what precautions will you take?
  • During run-up, what precautions will you take to ensure the airplane does not move?

Takeoff and Departure

  • Which visual references will you use for runway alignment during your takeoff roll?
  • During rotation and liftoff, which references will you use for climb angle and heading?

Enroute

  • What types of checkpoints should you select for night flight?
  • How can you determine if your are flying into deteriorating weather conditions at night?
  • How is flying across open water at night more hazardous than during the day?
  • How is flying across mountainous terrain at night more hazardous than during the day?

Approach and Landing

  • How will you identify your destination airport at night?
  • How should you approach your destination airport at night?
  • How will you identify when to descend, while ensuring obstacle and terrain clearance?
  • When should you activate pilot-controlled lighting at your destination airport?
  • How should you use a visual glideslope system to ensure obstacle clearance on approach to the runway?
  • What visual references should you use to initiate the flare and landing attitude?

Emergencies at night

  • How is engine failure different at night?
  • How is electrical failure different at night?

Night Regulations

  • When must the airplane’s position lights be used?
  • During what period must you meet night currency requirements in order to carry passengers?
  • How do you meet the night currency requirement?
  • During what period can you log night flight experience?
Study Chapter 10 – Night Operations in the AFH.
Decision Making and Risk Mgmt

Review weather briefing, performance and weight and balance for flight.

Use the PAVE checklist to identify risks associated with the flight.

Flight Experience
Operation Expect to: Prepare by:
Engine Start and Taxi
  • Prior to engine start, ensure beacon is on and area is clear.
  • Prior to taxi, activate PCL (pilot controlled lighting)
  • Prior to taxi, ensure landing light or taxi light is on.
Takeoffs and Landings at Night
  • Approach and landing with a visual glide slope
  • Approach and landing without a visual glide slope
  • Approach and landing without the landing light
  • Go around at night
Maneuvering at Night
  • Steep Turns
  • Power Off Stall
  • Power On Stall
Abnormal Operations at Night
  • Simulated electrical failure – darkened cockpit
  • Simulated engine failure at night – landing spot selection
  • Simulated communication failure – light gun signals from ATC