The Night Rating- The Rules (The Small Print) Part One

Night Rating (THE SMALL PRINT!)

Night Flying a

It’s that time of year again when we prepare for night flying, fog and ice . Before we talk about how to fly at night and gain a night rating lets look at the regulations.

FCL.810 Night Rating
(a) Aeroplanes, TMGs, airships.
(1) If the privileges of an LAPL or a PPL for aeroplanes, TMGs or airships are to be exercised in VFR conditions at
night, applicants shall have completed a training course at an ATO. The course shall comprise:
(i) theoretical knowledge instruction;
(ii) at least 5 hours of flight time in the appropriate aircraft category at night, including at least 3 hours of dual 
instruction, including at least 1 hour of cross-country navigation with at least one dual cross-country flight of 
at least 50 km and 5 solo take-offs and 5 solo full-stop landings.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today announced a change to night flying regulations which will allow aircraft to operate under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in the hours of darkness. Currently, all civil aircraft flying at night in the UK must comply with Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) but, from the 17 September 2012, this requirement will be removed allowing pilots to decide whether to fly VFR or IFR.

Visual Flight Rules are an internationally agreed standard set of operating rules designed to help prevent collisions between aircraft and the ground by ensuring that pilots fly in weather conditions that enable them to see a potential collision and take action to avoid it. Instrument Flight Rules are a more restrictive set of internationally agreed operating rules which include additional measures to help prevent collisions between aircraft particularly when flying in weather conditions where pilots may not be able to see other aircraft or obstacles (such as in cloud or poor visibility) and in areas with high volumes of traffic.

The changes are being made to take into account new and emerging European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations for pilot licensing and rules of the air. The CAA said that the change will be an improvement on the current night IFR requirements which are unique to the UK and not fully understood by all pilots, especially those visiting from overseas.

The CAA said that most of the requirements for VFR at night are similar to the existing Instrument Flight Rules, so UK pilots will be able to continue flying at night as normal provided they hold a valid Night Rating or Qualification. Pilots who hold an Instrument Rating or IMC Rating will continue to have the choice of flying IFR at night.

ICAO Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft

“Night. The hours between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight or such other period between sunset and sunrise, as may be prescribed by the appropriate authority.
Civil twilight ends in the evening when the centre of the sun’s disc is 6 degrees below the horizon and begins in the morning when the centre of the sun’s disc is 6 degrees below the horizon.”

In the UK we class night as 30 minutes after official sunset at the latitude at the surface were you are flying at.

Sunset/sunrise tables

A pilot may only fly as pilot in command of such an aeroplane carrying passengers unless:
(i) within the preceding 90 days the holder has made at least three take-offs
and three landings as the sole manipulator of the controls of an aeroplane
of the same type or class; and
(ii) if such a flight is to be carried out at night and the licence does not include
an instrument rating (aeroplane), at least one of those take-offs and landings
has been at night.

THE NIGHT RATING-next time we will look at how to gain the rating and flying at night

The Difference Between UTC & GMT

Don’t forget the clocks went back this morning at 2 am. Not sure why we have to endure this winter early darkness drudgery every year!

In aviation we now use UTC as opposed to GMT so what is the difference?

By the mid-nineteenth century, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) had been established as the primary reference time zone for the British Empire and for much of the world. GMT is based on the line of longitude running through the Greenwich Observatory located in the suburbs of London.

GMT, as the “mean” within its name would indicate, represented the time zone of a hypothetically average day at Greenwich. GMT disregarded the fluctuations in the normal earth-sun interaction. Thus, noon GMT represented the average noon at Greenwich throughout the year.

Over time, time zones became established based on GMT as being x number of hours ahead or behind GMT. Interestingly, the clock began at noon under GMT so noon was represented by zero hours.


As more sophisticated time pieces became available to scientists, the need for a new international time standard became apparent. Atomic clocks did not need to keep time based on average solar time at a particular location because they were very, very accurate. In addition, it became understood that due to the irregularity of the earth and the sun’s movements, the exact time needed to be modified occasionally through the use of leap seconds.

With this precise accuracy of time, UTC was born. UTC, which stands for Coordinated Universal Time in English and Temps universel coordonné in French, was abbreviated UTC as a compromise between CUT and TUC in English and French, respectively.

UTC, while based on zero degrees longitude, which passes through the Greenwich Observatory, is based on atomic time and includes leap seconds as they are added to our clock every so often. UTC was used beginning in the mid-twentieth century but became the official standard of world time on January 1, 1972.

UTC is 24-hour time, which begins at 0:00 at midnight. 12:00 is noon, 13:00 is 1 p.m., 14:00 is 2 p.m. and so on until 23:59, which is 11:59 p.m.

Time zones today are a certain number of hours or hours and minutes behind or ahead of UTC. UTC is also known as Zulu time in the world of aviation. When European Summer Time is not in effect, UTC matches the time zone of the United Kingdom.

Today, it is most appropriate to use and refer to time based on UTC and not on GMT.

Can you help with this accident at HUMBERSIDE?


The accident described below on the face of it would seem to be a simple taxying incident due to a misunderstanding of the taxy instructions given by ATC to the pilot.,%20G-BJCW%2010-13.pdf

Can I ask you all to have a look at this accident and answer the following for me please?

1 Do you think the information provided on the AAIB bulletin is comprehensive enough for you to understand the path taken by the aircraft from the light aircraft parking area to the point of impact? YES or NO

2 Do you think that ATC contributed to the accident by giving ambiguous instructions, if so how do think the instructions should have been given to the pilot and can you see were any  improvements could be made at Humberside to prevent a similar accident from reoccuring?

2 Do you think there are any unmentioned facts that could have contributed to this accident and would be a useful guide to preventing this accident reoccurring?

Please comment below the post at the bottom of the page (Leave a reply) or email me at askcaptainjon AT

I shall be making a further post in regard to this accident with my own findings at a later stage.

While  I also have your attention may I ask you to ‘rate’ any posts I make, some encouragement is always useful!

If you are not already signed up(see right hand margin) please consider this as I want to get to a 1000 by Christmas! 899 at the moment!

Please as always feel free to ask any questions that you feel may make useful posts in the future

I thank you all

Dont think Stall – THINK LOSS OF CONTROL!



Trident G -ARPY was being flown by the manufacturers test pilots when it entered a flat spin at 11,000 feet from which it failed to recover. Late recovery action was cited as the most likely reason for the accident.

We teach Stalling & LOSS OF CONTROL because that’s what stalling is, loss of control. Going through the motions of stall recovery at a safe altitude isn’t the only way of learning about stalling & loss of control. This is a very important exercise that needs regular practice especially during PPL training. It also needs a comprehensive briefing, self study and complete understanding. Do not fall into the trap of thinking “Oh well I’ve covered stalling so I will be alright”! In my experience at flying schools, stalling and loss of control is not covered very well at all and then after its covered its forgotten about until skill revision time. That’s not good enough, you should practice at least one stall recovery on every off circuit dual flight after solo consolidation preferably in the landing configuration and turn.

Many pilots have stalled a/c without recognizing that the a/c is stalled but they all know they are loosing or have lost control!

Threat and error management (TEM) should be applied to staling and loss of control. See if you can work out when you would most likely stall the a/c accidentally or where in the circuit it might happen and why.

Think about what errors you might make in getting the a/c close to the stall, errors you might make in recognising the stall and recovering from it.

If you cannot think of any examples of threat and error in relation to stall/loss of control you need to do some serious revision before you fly solo.

Consider that every pilot that is killed in a stalling accident has most likely been taught stall recovery action but the best sort of training also concentrates on not getting near the stall in the first place! (TEM)

G-ARPI Trident Accident Staines 1972 -within 3 minutes from take off at LHR all were dead. There were 4 professional pilots on the flight deck, all had been trained to take stall recovery action but it seems none of them realised that the a/c was stalled.


Other significant stall /loss of control accidents,_en-route,_Oxford_UK,_1991_(WX_LOC_HF)

Don’t forget they were all very experienced professional pilots!

In all of the four accidents mentioned above the a/c suffered LOSS OF CONTROL due to an aerodynamic stall yet not one of these professional pilots recognised they were in a stalled condition. All it need was for the PF to move the control column forward and unstall the a/c, it’s that simple even you and I could do it!  If you suffer or suspect loss of control:-