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Night landings on wide runways without centreline lighting

Does your landing light really not illuminate the runway, TJ?

I thought my TB20 lights were bad but they aren’t that bad. They are just rubbish for taxiing, especially for turning right.

You may want to consider LEDs – example example There must be SR22 options; the market is big enough.

At Shoreham, I recall observing instructors getting their night revalidations with one (“formidable”) local FIE. They had to land without any aircraft lights, and that runway also doesn’t have centreline lights.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There’s many options for improving the lights on older SR22s (the new ones have good lights), for example from “LoPresti”: http://lopresticirrus.com/, but all that stuff is really expensive. (I don’t need it, because I only fly in the daytime …)

Peter wrote:

At Shoreham, I recall observing instructors getting their night revalidations with one (“formidable”) local FIE. They had to land without any aircraft lights, and that runway also doesn’t have centreline lights.

Landing with the landing light off was part of my own night circuit training and I always practised it with students as well. Depending on the runway condition, even the best landing light does not have much effect, e.g. on a dark, wet runway. So it is good to be able to land without one.

EDDS - Stuttgart

Agree. When I practice night landings (rarely, TBH) I always do at least one with an “INOP” landing light.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

Before I started my Night VFR training in a PA28 last year I watched this video and tried to follow the advice. It works pretty well and my instructor left a remark in my training records “lands aircraft like in daylight”.



Peter wrote:

Does your landing light really not illuminate the runway, TJ?

Makes no discernible difference whether on or off. Looking at it on the ramp, it doesn’t seem to throw the beam far enough forward to be useful. I’m going to investigate to see if the beam angle can be adjusted.

Peter wrote:

At Shoreham, I recall observing instructors getting their night revalidations with one (“formidable”) local FIE. They had to land without any aircraft lights, and that runway also doesn’t have centreline lights.

The problem is the combination of wide runway and (only) edge lighting. Narrow runway – no problem. Wide runway with centreline lighting – no problem. Wide runway without centreline lighting – problem. Shoreham runway width is (I think) 18m, whereas Cambridge is 45m. The extra anlge to the edge lights makes all the difference.

I’m looking forward to trying out what_next’s technique but thanks to all for their suggestions.

TJ
Cambridge EGSC

Be very careful with no flare landings in tricycle aircraft. You’re really risking nose gear damage, and a bounce. To me, a no flare landing in a GA tricycle is an emergency technique. I do realize that it is normal on aircraft carriers but that’s a whole different realm of flying, and aircraft type. If you think you like the idea, practice during the day first, to see if you like the idea after you’ve done a few. The wheel spin up drag will be noticeable, and cause a pitch change at contact which can cause the pilot to react into a PIO.

No flare landings are done in seaplanes when the water surface is glassy, but it is considered a challenging thing to learn, and difficult skill to maintain. That said, there is reduced risk of landing gear damage in a seaplane water landing – though it happens!

If the runway is annoyingly wide, land along the left side, so the left lights are closer to you. That said, I’ve landed GA aircraft hundreds of times, on wide runways at night, and never had a problem.

I do like LED landing lights for many reasons, I have installed them in both my planes.

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

Pilot_DAR wrote:

Be very careful with no flare landings in tricycle aircraft.

This is why it is a good idea to practise the technique in daylight first. However, a landing as I described above where you reduce your descent rate to something like 200ft/min over the theshold is clearly not a carrier-style no-flare landing. I land “my” little Citation like this every day of the week, day and night, and if the speed is right, the touchdown attitude looks more like an imminent tailstrike than a nosewheel landing!

EDDS - Stuttgart

TJ,

The “problem” is indeed akin to landing with wheels (or floats, if you must) on glassy water. It is not at all a difficult technique, just different. Descend to your last solid height reference (edge of lake, or approach or threshold lighting, if present). Then set and maintain touchdown attitude and adjust power for a sink rate of 200 fpm. Simples.

Also, we don’t have to land on the centreline of a 45 m wide runway. When wheel landing on a glassy lake, we get good height perception right along (i.e. just feet away from) the shore.

Peter.

Glenswinton, SW Scotland, United Kingdom

Jacko wrote:

Then set and maintain touchdown attitude and adjust power for a sink rate of 200 fpm. Simples.

Simple yes, but rough!

Touching down a GA wheelplane at 3.3 feet per second contact rate is quite a thump, and likely destabilizing. You can get quite a pilot induced oscillation going from that. When I teach glassy water landings, training to have the aircraft contact the surface is not the difficult part, its training to maintain pitch control of the aircraft immediately after contact. We sure aim for a certain descent rate less than 200 FPM – 100 or just less is nice, as long as you are certain you’re actually going down.

During night landings, the outside visual cues are lessened, so a PIO, or other loss of good control, is made worse by the lesser cues with which to recover. If you are considering no flare landings for night arrivals (which I do not) they should be very well practiced during the day first. Simply, the required day practice can be cumulatively abusive to the aircraft to the point that just mastering a flare technique at night is better overall.

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada
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