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


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