Understand the different ways night is defined in the FARs, and under what scenarios apply to each definition.
- Defining night for the purposes of logging flight time
- Defining night for the purposes of currency
- Defining night for determining required equipment
- Night is defined under 14 CFR 1 as “The time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, and converted to local time.” This definition of night is used for meeting the requirements for certificates and for logging your aeronautical experience, and for required equipment under 91.205(c).
- Night is alternately defined in CFR 61.57(b)(1) as “…the period beginning 1 hr after sunset and ending 1 hr before sunrise…” This definition only applies to when a pilot may act as PIC when carrying passengers.
- An aircraft must be equipped with position lights and must use anticollision lights (unless the PIC determines that the lights should be extinguished in the interest of safety) from sunset to sunrise according to CFR 91.209.
Real-life advice and experience/Scenarios
- A private pilot is flying with several passengers in the contiguous US. His last night landings (3 touch and gos) were 30 days ago. Can he continue the flight after the sun goes down without violating the FARs? click here for an answer
- Is it possible for a pilot to have made >3 full-stop landings after sunset and have logged night time in the last 90 days, but not be able to legally carry passengers for a nighttime flight? click here for an answer
- The US Naval Observatory provides sunrise/sunset and ECT/MCT data. You can customize and print a form for you location here.
- For Equipment, Certificates, Time, and the Machine (ie, equipment): ECTM, night begins at Evening Civil Twilight and ends at Morning
- For PIC carrying passengers, think P1C=PIC, 1 hr after, carrying passengers
- For lights…any suggestions welcomed