Jim Greenshields Sets World Record Flying 43 Airplanes Within One Day!

Flight Instructor Jim Greenshields has set a new world record for the most airplanes flown solo in one day.

Jim flew 43 aeroplanes from Dunkeswell aerodrome near Exeter to an altitude of 2000 feet and back to set the record.

He started flying the first airplane at 5.30am on Saturday and it took 13 hours to complete the attempt.

The objective of his campaign was raising funds the Make-a-Wish Foundation UK who fulfil wishes for children with life threatening condition.

Jim wanted to thank all the aircraft owners who donated their planes for the day, particularly the ground crew without whose help it could not have been done.

The aircraft ranged from a vintage Tiger Moth biplane, World War Two spotter planes and a World War One fighter replica to modern fast glassfibre aircraft.

To donate visit Jim’s page at www.justgiving.com/jim-greenshields.

 

Capt. Ivan

 

Free Aircraft Tracking Service Launched After MH370 Tragedy

Inmarsat said its new service would be offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft that are already equipped with Inmarsat satellite connections, comprising virtually 100 per cent of the world's long-haul commercial fleet. (Tomasz Bartkowiak/Reuters)

Inmarsat said its new service would be offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft that are already equipped with Inmarsat satellite connections, comprising virtually 100 per cent of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet. (Tomasz Bartkowiak/Reuters)

The British satellite communications company that pointed the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 to the Indian Ocean is offering a free and basic tracking service to its customers, which include most of the world’s airlines.

Inmarsat said the service would be offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft that are already equipped with Inmarsat satellite connections, comprising virtually 100 per cent of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet.

“This offer responsibly, quickly and at little or no cost to the industry, addresses in part the problem brought to light by the recent tragic events around MH370,” Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce told the Associated Press.

The company made the announcement before United Nations aviation officials gathered in Montreal on Monday to discuss better tracking of aircraft in the highest-level response yet to safety concerns raised by the disappearance of Flight MH370.

The Boeing 777 with 239 people on board was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 when it disappeared. The plane automatically sent signals to a satellite belonging to Inmarsat after the plane’s transponder and its communication systems had shut down — but researchers were unable to find the plane before the batteries in the black box flight recorder shut down.

Inmarsat said it anticipated the adoption of further safety measures following the loss of MH370.

The company said it would also offer both an enhanced position reporting facility and a ‘black box in the cloud’ service that would stream historic and real-time flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder information when a plane deviates from its course. These would not be free.

The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is hosting this week’s talks in Montreal to discuss what can be done with current technology and what standards need to be set for new technology as globalization brings a steady increase in intercontinental air traffic.

The May 12-13 meeting at ICAO headquarters brings together 40 nations and representatives of aviation regulators, airports, airlines, air traffic controllers, pilots and radio experts.

“For the general public it has become unthinkable that a flight can simply disappear,” the European Union said in a paper presented in advance of the two-day talks.

“An aircraft should be permanently tracked, even beyond radar coverage, and in case of an accident it should be immediately located,” the paper said.

The EU paper also warned that some existing satellite-based cockpit systems could also be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents nearly all long-haul airlines, said in April that it would set up a special task force on the issue of tracking.

Officials say that jets can be tracked with hardware available for less than $100,000 and updates can be transmitted using existing technology, though the cost depends on the frequency of updates.

Other more simple options include embedding GPS tracking devices in aircraft, but these could require safety certification and there are no common safety standards.
Plane-tracking discussed since 2010

Regulators have been discussing since 2010 how to improve communications with passenger jets over oceans and remote areas after an Air France plane crashed into the Atlantic a year earlier, but they have so far failed to agree on a co-ordinated international approach to the problem.

However, worldwide alarm at the failure to find MH370 in more than two months since it vanished en route to Beijing has pushed the issue to the top of the aviation agenda.

Regular flight-tracking was one of the key recommendations of French investigators after the loss of Air France 447.

Aviation experts say previous attempts to reach agreement on tracking and other reforms in the aftermath of Air France 447 have been delayed by uncertainties over the cost and control of infrastructure and reluctance to rely on “monopoly” providers.

Recent EU decision-making has also had to overcome wrangling among manufacturers, regulators and pilots.

But officials are now more optimistic that the aviation industry will take the lead with the help of a common strategy between regulators.

Source:  Reuters

 

Cirrus Smooth Emergency Landing with CAPS – Australia – Video

Videographer Doug Turner had the chance to capture the moment when a Cirrus with a failed engine descended smoothly after activate the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System – CAPS.

The incident happened last Saturday in Lawson – Blue Mountains, NSW Australia, at about 14:05 hrs. The Cirrus pilot and three people were on board when the aircraft had an engine failure. Unsuccessfully he tried to restart the engine, then he decided to pull the red handle that activates the CAPS, an emergency chute specially designed for these events.

The airplane descended smoothly and although sustained some damage, all four people on board managed to escape without injury.

Another good proof of the great utility of this emergency system.

Doug Turner

Doug Turner

Doug Turner

Capt. Ivan

Photos & Video:  Doug Turner

 

Airbus A350 XWB Completed Successfully Water Ingestion Tests

Airbus has successfully performed certification testing to demonstrate the A350 XWB’s ability to operate on wet runways. During these tests at Istres, France, the flight-test aircraft, MSN004, travelled through troughs containing at least 22mm of water depth, at a variety of speeds, starting at 60kts, and successively increasing to around 140kts.

A350 XWB MSN004 successfully undertakes water ingestion tests at Istres in May 2014

A350 XWB MSN004 successfully undertakes water ingestion tests at Istres in May 2014

This test validates how the aircraft would behave on a very rain-soaked runway, and verifies that neither the water under the aircraft nor the spray generated by the nose landing gear will enter the engines or APU. For the test, the “water trough” was created by applying to the runway’s surface grooves and rubber strips inserted in the grooves to retain the water. This pool measured 100m long by 29m wide. The aircraft performed several runs as planned in order to test various cases, including the use of reverse thrust. The results will be analysed by the Airbus Design Office, which will extrapolate them to predict a variety of typical operational scenarios.

The A350 XWB’s is on track for certification in Q3 2014, to be followed by entry into service with Qatar Airways in Q4. The first four A350s now flying have together accumulated around 1,600 flight-test hours and over 350 flights. The flight-test fleet will be completed with the fifth aircraft, MSN005, in the coming weeks.

Capt. Ivan

Photos:  Airbus

NASA – Alternative Jet Fuel Flight Tests Begin

The flight tests took place last Wednesday 7, over Palmdale, California, called Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions II (ACCESS II), include NASA’s DC-8 and HU-25C Guardian, DLR’s Falcon 20-E5, and NRC’s CT-133 research aircraft.

NASA and a group of international partners, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and National Research Council of Canada (NRC) – started with a series of flight tests to gather critical data that may aid in the development of cleaner aircraft fuels.

NASA’s DC-8 leads the flight formation as the “guinea pig” of this experiment. Its engines will burn various fuel blends, while the Falcon and CT-133 measure emissions and observe contrail formation from the DC-8.

Flying as high as 40,000 feet, the DC-8’s four CFM56 engines burn either traditional jet fuel JP-8 or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil.
“This is a great example of how NASA works with partners around the globe to solve the challenges common to the international aviation community such as understanding emission characteristics from the use of alternative fuels which presents a great potential for significant reductions in harmful emissions,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics research.

Measurements taken during ACCESS I in 2013, showed soot levels were 40 to 60 percent lower in the emissions from burning blended fuels than those of JP-8, according to Bruce Anderson, NASA’s principal investigator for the ACCESS program.

“We saw big changes in soot emissions from the DC-8, but we weren’t able to make clear ties between the type of fuel burned and formation of contrails,” said Anderson. “So for ACCESS II we really want to dig into that.”

NASA – Press Release.

dlr_falconct-133_dsc_1190_0

DLR’s Falcon 20-E5, with NRC’s CT-133 in the background. Image Credit: NASA / Peter Merlin

dc-8_dsc_1150_0

NASA’s DC-8 research aircraft, once in flight, provides the emissions and contrails for the other aircraft to “sniff” and store data. Image Credit: NASA / Peter Merlin

ct-133_dsc_1165_2

NRC’s CT-133 research aircraft exits the hangar for a morning of final prep and fueling for flights later in the day. Image Credit: NASA / Peter Merlin

hu-25_crew_dsc_1215_0

Flight crew boards the HU-25C Guardian in preparation for ACCESS II tests. Image Credit: NASA / Peter Merlin

Photos:  NASA

 

Do You Want to Invest on an Airline? – Here You Have an Interesting Project.

London to New York on a premium non-stop business class CS100 series? Is the offer of Odyssey Airlines, a new UK operator planning to start services on 2016.

Utilizing the innovative Bombardier CS100 Series, Odyssey team is pointed to offer a scheduled service business style from the less congested and more convenient airports in the UK to major cities worldwide that will include initially North America and the Middle East.

The idea is more akin to a private jet service with airline style, among other features; the interior arrangement on the Bombardier CSeries Jet will include fully flat beds.

“We are going after the traditional business traveler,” Odyssey CEO Adam Scott said. “We are operating the most fuel-efficient and modern aircraft available.” And flying out of London City Airport, with its proximity to the city center and short walking times to gates, “we are able to offer our travelers substantial time savings.”

“The entire journey (to New York) will be significantly less than the journey that you might currently fly with one of the traditional carriers.”

Odyssey plans to start service initially with a fleet of 10 CSeries, specially outfitted aircraft.

The airline project initially hopes to raise about 5 million pounds (U$S 8.48 million) by crowd funding. At airline launch, the entrepreneurs need to raise more than 60 million pounds (U$S 101.8 million) mostly through institutional investors.

Fundraising on Crowdcube, Odyssey team hope to recruit customers and build brand loyalty before the first aircraft takes flight.

“We’re trying to get our name out and raise our profile,” Scott said. “It’s a way to engage early on with our would-be customers,” who also could be early investors.

Capt. Ivan

Photo:  Odyssey Airlines

 

Why the Official Explanation of MH370’s Demise Doesn’t Hold Up

From  Ari N. Schulman Executive Editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society

A map showing satellite communications company Inmarsat's global subscriptions. (Reuters)

A map showing satellite communications company Inmarsat’s global subscriptions. (Reuters)

Investigators searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight were ebullient when they detected what sounded like signals from the plane’s black boxes. This was a month ago, and it seemed just a matter of time before the plane was finally discovered.

But now the search of 154 square miles of ocean floor around the signals has concluded with no trace of wreckage found. Pessimism is growing as to whether those signals actually had anything to do with Flight 370. If they didn’t, the search area would return to a size of tens of thousands of square miles.

Even before the black-box search turned up empty, observers had begun to raise doubts about whether searchers were looking in the right place. Authorities have treated the conclusion that the plane crashed in the ocean west of Australia as definitive, owing to a much-vaunted mathematical analysis of satellite signals sent by the plane. But scientists and engineers outside of the investigation have been working to verify that analysis, and many say that it just doesn’t hold up.

A Global Game of Marco Polo
Malaysia Airlines flights are equipped with in-flight communications services provided by the British company Inmarsat. From early on, the lynchpin of the investigation has been signals sent by Flight 370 to one of Inmarsat’s satellites. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this lonely little batch of “pings.” They’re the sole evidence of what happened to the plane after it slipped out of radar contact. Without them, investigators knew only that the plane had enough fuel to travel anywhere within 3,300 miles of the last radar contact—a seventh of the entire globe.

Inmarsat concluded that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and its analysis has become the canonical text of the Flight 370 search. It’s the bit of data from which all other judgments flow—from the conclusive announcement by Malaysia’s prime minister that the plane has been lost with no survivors, to the black-box search area, to the high confidence in the acoustic signals, to the dismissal by Australian authorities of a survey company’s new claim to have detected plane wreckage.

Although Inmarsat officials have described the mathematical analysis as “groundbreaking,” it’s actually based on some relatively straightforward geometry. Here’s how it works: Every so often (usually about once an hour), Inmarsat’s satellite sends a message to the plane’s communication system, asking for a simple response to show that it’s still switched on. This response doesn’t specify the plane’s location or the direction it’s heading, but it does have some useful information that narrows down the possibilities.

You can think of the ping math like a game of Marco Polo played over 22,000 miles of outer space. You can’t see the plane. But you shout Marco, and the plane shouts back Polo. Based on how long the plane takes to respond, you know how far away it is. And from the pitch of its voice, you can tell whether it’s moving toward you or away from you—like the sound of a car on the highway—and about how fast.

This information is far from perfect. You know how far the plane was for each ping, but the ping could be coming from any direction. And you how fast the plane is moving toward or away from you. It could also be moving right or left, up or down, and the speeds would sound the same. The task of the Inmarsat engineers has been to take these pieces and put them together, working backwards to reconstruct possible flight paths that would fit the data.

Continue Reading at – The New Atlantis:  A Journal of Technology and Society

Photo Credits:  The Atlantis.

FAA and Drones – Incident Case Study.

An US Airways Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft almost collided with a drone above Florida earlier this year, a near-accident that rise concerns about the growing risk from increased use of unmanned aircraft, said Jim Williams, head of the unmanned-aircraft office at the Federal Aviation Administration. Mr. Williams revealed the incident publicly at a conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

US Airways Flight 4650 from Charlotte, N.C., was approaching Tallahassee airport descending through 2,300 feet and about five miles from the airport when it encountered the drone, which the pilot described “as a camouflaged F-4 fixed-wing aircraft that was quite small.” The remote controlled jet was more similar to a model aircraft flown by hobbyists rather than a so-called quadcopter that many see as the type of unmanned aircraft with commercial potential.

“The airplane pilot said that the drone was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it,”
The CRJ did not appear to be damaged when it was inspected after the March 22 incident, Williams said.
But the incident served to highlight the risk of remote-control aircraft, he said.

“The risk for a small UAS to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real,” Williams said. “The results could be catastrophic.”

The FAA currently bans the commercial use of drones in the United States and is under growing pressure to set rules that would permit their broader use. Hobby and many law-enforcement uses are permitted.
Last year, the agency began establishing test sites where businesses can try out commercial uses. Two of the centers have started working ahead of schedule.

“The FAA is working aggressively to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace,” the agency said in a statement.

The March incident was reported to the Tallahassee control tower by the pilot for Bluestreak Airlines, a US Airways commuter carrier. US Airways is part of American Airlines.

The FAA investigated but could not identify the pilot of the drone.
During the conference at the Small Unmanned Systems Business Expo in San Francisco, Williams also showed videos of several drone accidents, including one in which a drone crashed into a crowd during the running of the bulls in Richmond, Virginia, last fall.

Capt. Ivan

Photo: File – Wikipedia

 

Flying Reimagined, The Residence – By Etihad

Etihad has released a reimagined way of traveling – The Residence by Etihad.

Join our Guest Ambassador, Dannii Minogue as she takes you on a tour of The Residence, the only three-room suite in the sky!

Designed for up to two guests travelling together, the Residence, is available on the Etihad Airbus 380, features a living room, separate bedroom and en-suite bathroom.

Shedding Light On Night Flying

I still remember my first flight at night. I felt deeply attracted and interested in experiencing the flight when darkness enveloped the small airport where it was my flight school. I used to hear stories from other pilots who would tell me that after the rotation all the real world ended and all that counted were my flight instruments.  Night flying has magic and beauty, there’s usually less air traffic and controllers are more helpful. However, the limitations that darkness puts in human vision, the effect of daily fatigue and time changes increase the risks of night flying.

In this post I would like to cover the issues involved in flying at night: The vision limitations at night, night scanning, night illusions, aircraft lightning, night operations, regulations and tips to make your night flight more comfortable and safe.

After sunset, our perception of real world changes completely, depth perceptions are severely altered and visual acuity diminishes.

Visual Limitations at Night – Pilots rely more on vision than on any other sense to orient themselves in flight. The following visual factors contribute to flying performance: good depth perception for safe landings, good visual acuity to identify terrain features and obstacles in the flight path and good color vision. Although vision is the most accurate and reliable sense, at night visual cues can be misleading, contributing to incidents occurring within the flight environment. Pilots must be aware of and know how to compensate effectively for the following:

– Physical deficiency or self-imposed stress, such as smoking, which limits night-vision capability
– Visual cue deficiencies
– Limitations in visual acuity, dark adaptation, and color and depth perception.

Even pilots with perfect vision find that image sharpness decreases as pupil diameter increases. These factors become important when pilots rely on terrain features during unaided night flights. Practicing good light discipline is very important and helps pilots to retain their night adaptation. Keeping the cockpit lighting on dim allows the pilot to better identify outside details, unmarked hazards such as towers less than 200′ AGL, and unimproved landing sites with no hazard lighting.
Normal visual acuity, or sharpness, is 20/20. A value of 20/80 indicates that an individual reads at 20 feet the letters that an individual with normal acuity (20/20) reads at 80 feet away. The human eye functions like a camera. It has an instantaneous field of view, which is oval and typically measures 120° vertically by 150° horizontally. When both eyes are used for viewing, the overall field of vision measures about 120° vertically by 200° horizontally.
The eye automatically adjusts for the light level experienced. During night flight, the cockpit and instrument lights should be as dim as possible. The eye can then adjust for the outside lighting conditions (ambient lighting) to see outside. The dimmer the inside lighting is, the better you can see outside.

Effects of cockpit light dimming at night flying.

Effects of cockpit light dimming at night flying.

Diet and general physical health have an impact on how well a person can see in the dark. Deficiencies in vitamins A and C have been shown to reduce night acuity. Other factors, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, smoking, alcohol, and certain drugs can greatly decrease night vision. Lack of oxygen can also decrease night vision as the eye requires more oxygen per weight than any other part of the body.

Night Scanning – Good night visual acuity is needed for collision avoidance. Night scanning, like day scanning, uses a series of short, regularly spaced eye movements in 10° sectors. When looking at an object, avoid staring at it too long. If staring at an object without moving the eyes, the retina becomes accustomed to the light intensity and the image begins to fade. To keep it clearly visible, new areas in the retina must be exposed to the image. Small, circular eye movements help eliminate the fading. Also, move the eyes more slowly from sector to sector than during the day to prevent blurring.

During daylight, objects can be perceived at a great distance with good detail. At night, range is limited and detail is poor. Objects along the flight path can be more readily identified at night when pilots use the proper techniques to scan the terrain. To scan effectively, pilots look from right to left or left to right. They should begin scanning at the greatest distance at which an object can be perceived (top) and move inward toward the position of the aircraft (bottom).

Visual Illusions – Illusions give false impressions or misconceptions of actual conditions; therefore, pilots must understand the type of illusions that can occur and the resulting disorientation. Although the visual system is the most reliable of the senses, some illusions can result from misinterpreting what is seen; what is perceived is not always accurate.

Relative Motion – is the falsely perceived self-motion in relation to the motion of another object. The most common example is as follows. An individual in a car is stopped at a traffic light and another car pulls alongside. The individual that was stopped at the light perceives the forward motion of the second car as his or her own motion rearward. This results in the individual applying more pressure to the brakes unnecessarily. This illusion can be encountered during flight in situations such as formation flight, hover taxi, or hovering over water or tall grass.

Confusion with Ground Lights – Confusion with ground lights occurs when a pilot mistakes ground lights for stars. When no stars are visible because of overcast conditions, unlighted areas of terrain can blend with the dark overcast to create the illusion that the unlighted terrain is part of the sky. In this illusion, the shoreline is mistaken for the horizon. This illusion can be avoided by referencing the flight instruments and establishing a true horizon and attitude.

Reversible Perspective Illusion – At night, an aircraft may appear to be moving away when it is actually approaching. If the pilot of each aircraft has the same assumption, and the rate of closure is significant, by the time each pilot realizes his or her own error in assumption, it may be too late to avoid a mishap. This illusion is called reversible perspective, and is often experienced when a pilot observes another aircraft flying a parallel course. To determine the direction of flight, the pilot should observe the other aircraft’s position lights. Remember the following: red on right returning; that is, if an aircraft is seen with the red position light on the right and the green position light on the left, the observed aircraft is traveling in the opposite direction.

At night, the horizon may be hard to discern due to dark terrain and misleading light patterns on the ground.

At night, the horizon may be hard to discern due to dark terrain and misleading light patterns on the ground.

Flicker Vertigo – Flicker vertigo is technically not an illusion; however, as most people are aware from personal experience, viewing a flickering light can be both distracting and annoying. Flashing anticollision strobe lights, especially while the aircraft is in the clouds, can produce this effect.

Featureless Terrain Illusion – An absence of ground features, as when landing over water, darkened areas, and terrain made featureless by snow, can create the illusion that the aircraft is at a higher altitude than it actually is. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion will fly a lower approach.

Atmospheric Illusions – Rain on the windscreen can create the illusion of greater height, and atmospheric haze can create the illusion of being at a greater distance from the runway. The pilot who does not recognize these illusions flies a lower approach. Penetration of fog can create the illusion of pitching up. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion steepens the approach, often quite abruptly.

Ground Lighting Illusions – Lights along a straight path, such as a road, and even lights on moving trains can be mistaken for runway and approach lights. Bright runway and approach lighting systems, especially where few lights illuminate the surrounding terrain, may create the illusion of less distance to the runway. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion flies a higher approach. Conversely, the pilot overflying terrain which has few lights to provide height cues may make a lower than normal approach.

The night flying environment and the techniques used when flying at night, depend on outside conditions. Flying on a bright, clear, moonlit evening when the visibility is good and the wind is calm is not much different from flying during the day. However, if flying on an overcast night over a sparsely populated area, with few or no outside lights on the ground, the situation is quite different. Visibility is restricted, so be more alert in steering clear of obstructions and low clouds. Options are also limited in the event of an emergency, as it is more difficult to find a place to land and determine wind direction and speed. At night, rely more heavily on the aircraft systems, such as lights, flight instruments, and navigation equipment. As a precaution, if visibility is limited or outside references are inadequate, strongly consider delaying the flight until conditions improve, unless proper instrument flight training has been received.

Aircraft Lighting – In order to see other aircraft more clearly, regulations require that all aircraft operating during the night hours have special lights and equipment. Position lights enable a pilot to locate another aircraft, as well as help determine its direction of flight. The approved aircraft lights for night operations are a green light on the right cabin side or wingtip, a red light on the left cabin side or wingtip, and a white position light on the tail. In addition, flashing aviation red or white anticollision lights are required for night flights. These flashing lights can be in a number of locations, but are most commonly found on the top and bottom of the cabin.

Aircraft Position Lights

Aircraft Position Lights

Here we have an example of aircraft lighting. By interpreting the position lights on other aircraft, the pilot in aircraft 3 can determine whether the aircraft is flying in the opposite direction or is on a collision course. If a red position light is seen to the right of a green light, such as shown by aircraft 1, it is flying toward aircraft 3. A pilot should watch this aircraft closely and be ready to change course. Aircraft 2, on the other hand, is flying away from aircraft 3, as indicated by the white position light.

Preflight – Aircraft preflight inspection is a critical aspect of flight safety. During night preflight we should use a flashlight with an unfiltered lens (white light) to supplement lighting. Windscreens are checked ensuring they are clean and relatively free of scratches. Slight scratches are acceptable for day flight but may not be for night flight. Careful attention must be paid to the aircraft electrical system. A tripped circuit breaker may be an indication of an equipment malfunction and should be left for maintenance to troubleshoot.
All aircraft operating between sunset and sunrise are required to have operable navigation (position) lights. Turn these lights on during the preflight to inspect them visually for proper operation. Between sunset and sunrise, these lights must be on any time the helicopter is operating. All recently manufactured aircraft certificated for night flight must have an anticollision light that makes the aircraft more visible to other pilots. This light is either a red or white.

One of the first steps in preparation for night flight is becoming thoroughly familiar with the cockpit, instrumentation, and control layout. It is recommended that a pilot practice locating each instrument, control, and switch, both with and without cabin lights. Since the markings on some switches and circuit breaker panels may be difficult to read at night, be able to locate and use these devices, and read the markings in poor light conditions.

Before starting the engine, make sure all necessary equipment and supplies needed for the flight, such as charts, notepads, and flashlights, are accessible and ready for use.
Check all interior lights with special attention to the instrument and panel lights. The panel lighting can usually be controlled with a rheostat or dimmer switch, allowing the pilot to adjust the intensity. If a particular light is too bright or causes reflection or glare off the windshield, it should be adjusted or turned off. As ambient level decreases from twilight to darkness, intensity of the cockpit lights is reduced to a low, usable intensity level that reduces any glare or reflection off the windshield. The light level should be adjusted to as close to the ambient light level as possible. A flashlight, with red or blue-green lens filter, or map light can supplement the available light in the cockpit. Always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries to provide an alternate source of light if the interior lights malfunction. If an existing map/ utility light is used, it should be hand held or remounted to a convenient location, in order to retain night adaptation use low level light when using your checklist. Brief you passengers in the importance of light discipline during night flight so the pilot is not blinded and loses dark adaptation.

Taxi Technique – Taxi slowly at night, especially in congested ramp and parking areas. When operating at an unfamiliar airport at night, ask for instructions or advice concerning local conditions, so as to avoid taxiing into areas of construction, or unlighted, unmarked obstructions.

Takeoff – Once you are ready and cleared for takeoff, select a point down the takeoff path to use for directional reference. During a night takeoff, notice a lack of reliable outside visual references after becoming airborne. To compensate for the lack of outside references, use the available flight instruments as an aid. Establish a climb attitude on the attitude indicator, check the altimeter and the airspeed indicator to verify the proper climb attitude. The first 500 feet of altitude after takeoff is considered to be the most critical.

En Route – During preflight planning, it is recommended that a route of flight that is within reach of an airport, or any safe landing site, be selected when possible. It is also recommended that pilots fly as close as possible to a populated or lighted area, such as a highway or town. Not only does this offer more options in the event of an emergency, but also makes navigation a lot easier. In the event of a forced landing at night, use the same procedure recommended for day time emergency landings. If available, turn on the landing light during the final descent to help in avoiding obstacles along the approach path.

Approach and Landing – Studies have revealed that pilots have a tendency to make lower approaches at night than during the day. This is potentially dangerous as there is a greater chance of hitting an obstacle, such as an overhead wire or fence, that is difficult to see. It is good practice to make steeper approaches at night, increasing the probability of clearing obstacles. Monitor altitude and rate of descent using the altimeter.
Another pilot tendency during night flight is to focus too much on the landing area and not pay enough attention to airspeed. If too much airspeed is lost, a settling-with-power condition may result. Maintain the proper attitude during the approach, and ensure that you keep some forward airspeed and movement until close to the ground. Outside visual references for airspeed and rate of closure may not be available, especially when landing in an unlit area, so pay special attention to the airspeed indicator. Although the landing light is a helpful aid when making night approaches, there is an inherent disadvantage. The portion of the landing area illuminated by the landing light seems higher than the dark area surrounding it. This effect can cause a pilot to terminate the approach at an altitude that is too high, which may result in a settling-with-power condition and a hard landing.

Regulations:
Night Flying Currency – 14 CFR section 61.57, Recent Flight Experience Pilot In Command, in order to carry passengers, “during the period beginning one hour after sunset and ending one hour before sunrise,” the pilot in command must have made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop, between the hours of one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise, within the preceding 90 days.

Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 1 “Night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time.”

– Aircraft Lights – 14 CFR section 91.209 “No person may: (a) during the period from sunset to sunrise… (1) Operate an aircraft unless it has lighted position lights.”

 

For More Information

– Risk Management for VFR Flight at Night

– “N.I.G.H.T.” FAA Aviation News,

– AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Night VFR Checkup

 

Sources:

– FAA Night Vision & Night Operations – Chapt. 13.

– FAA Night Flight Safety.

– Illustrations & Pics:  FAA

Capt. Ivan

 

  •   GDL 39