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Take off in the dark...

Decent landing lights, no problem. Happens surprisingly often in the places I fly to, that you can’t get any on-field lights going! With the extra wingtip landing lights I added, even a completely dark field is not much different to daytime.

KPJC and Kent, UK

Below to me is clear as mud…

ENR 1.2 VISUAL FLIGHT RULES

VFR flights shall not be conducted by night:
1)outside a control zone in any airspace class unless the flight visibility is not less than 8 km, except as specified in para. c;
2)unless the cloud base for the route to be flown or in the respective area is not less than 600 m (2000 ft), with the exception of cases given in para. c;
3)in a traffic pattern of an uncontrolled aerodrome unless the ground visibility is not less than 5 km and the cloud conditions are such that the flight can be conducted clear of clouds at given minimum heights. Visual contact with the aerodrome is required.

Doesn’t say anything about picking up IFR clearance after visual take off…

Last Edited by LFHNflightstudent at 15 Apr 12:11
LFHN - Bellegarde - Vouvray France

boscomantico wrote:

Which airport without lighting does NOT specify “day only”, either explicitly or implicitly?

Any airport that doesn’t have published opening hours. In Germany, because of the “Flugleiterpflicht” all airports will have that, but not e.g. in Sweden. Here airports are assumed to be H24 unless otherwise stated. So for night flying you have to check if the airport has lights or not — and how to get them turned on.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Well, my question was mostly referred to French Airports, since that is (I think) what the OP referred to. Any such airport has a heading in the VAC “VFR night” which is then followed by either “approved…” or “not approved”.

I would think that this is true everywhere in Europe. In Germany it is (and it certainly does not directly have anything to do with the Flugleiter). Do the Swedish AIP entries really not say anything about the airfield’s approval status for night flights?

Frankfurt (EDFE, EDFZ), Germany

I don’t know what happens to an airfield in France when it is “closed”.

In Germany – no go, as it is verboten to do take off from anywhere except from an airfield during its opening times.

In the UK, which allows aircraft to operate from pretty much anywhere, it all depends on what the airfield owner allows you to do – outside opening hours, it isn’t a licenced airfield, the general rules apply.

France allow operation from anywhere, but I don’t know what happens to an airfield when it is closed…

Biggin Hill

boscomantico wrote:

Do the Swedish AIP entries really not say anything about the airfield’s approval status for night flights?

There is no mention of any such approvals –– only what lighting is available and if the airfield has restricted opening hours. It is up to the pilot to determine if the lighting is sufficient for legal operations at night — which could of course differ depending on the type of ops.

I guess that if a runway has lights but is not approved for night flying, there would be a note about that, but if find that very unlikely. If you don’t have instrument approaches the only purpose of lights is for night flying. If you do have lights because of instrument approaches, why not also use them for night flying?

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Which airport without lighting does NOT specify “day only”, either explicitly or implicitly?

Mine, for sure, and in France I guess any private aerodrome for which there is no VAC.

I don’t see how you can land or take off in darkness.

An LED landing light illuminates the whole length of my runway, which is roughly five times longer than the typical take-off run. Come to think of it, most of us could probably take off in a Maule or Cub with our eyes shut for most if not all of of those six seconds.

The OP was about take-off. No problem.

Landing in pitch dark on a short unlit upland runway surrounded by hills would be a different matter. I wouldn’t say it’s dangerous, since CFIT at landing speed into a spruce forest doesn’t necessarily result in injury, but it seems to me that whenever we run an airplane into a tree we end up a little poorer.

Glenswinton, SW Scotland, United Kingdom

Cobalt wrote:

In the UK, which allows aircraft to operate from pretty much anywhere, it all depends on what the airfield owner allows you to do – outside opening hours, it isn’t a licenced airfield, the general rules apply.

On legality, I come across cases where it seems “OK” to depart and land from unlicensed airfields after SS+30min in the UK (assuming owner is OK, works well when pilot = owner), of course it still not that dark in summer to get visual clues and you may have extra time with ICAO definition of night is based on civil twilight which is much generous (SS+40min now?)

On darkness, I do however landed at SS+15min in dark winter (no PPL Night Rating) with no runway lights twice the first one on tarmac on a SEP, the second one on grass with a glider (after ridge flying), having a white line marking did make a lot of difference in terms of ground contact and after landing inspection….

ESSEX, United Kingdom

There is no darkness, it is called Night now.

It is Night between the times the center of the disk of the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon line. That can be way more than 30 minutes after sunset in north latitudes and in many of the cases described above it might not even had been legally night.

Last Edited by Dimme at 15 Apr 21:50
^ESM[ES]$

SPO.OP 110 specifies the take-off minima and states that for night operations, ground lights should be available to illuminate the runway/final approach and take-off area (FATO) and any obstacles. The take-off minima for aeroplanes are stated in a Table (1.A) and are 500 m RVR/VIS if there are no facilities or 400 m RVR/VIS with runway lights. The reported RVR/VIS value representative of the initial part of the take-off run can be replaced by pilot assessment, but you will still need some sort of lights to legally take-off at night.

I fly regularly at night and use PCL (pilot-controlled-lights) to activate the runway/apron lights at my departure or destination airport. In France, there is no requirement for someone to be present at the airport on departure or arrival. In other countries, such as the Netherlands, there needs to be a fire brigade person on duty.

AeroPlus + African Flying Adv.
EHRD, Netherlands
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