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Take off in the dark...

I should know this most likely :-), but on an aerodrome (non controlled) with no lighting aids but no indication of day only, am I legal if I take off at “night”?
edit : I should specify I am an IFR pilot on an IFR flight plan, but who would take off non-controlled and activate the flight plan as I always do in the air… Do have the night rating etc…

Last Edited by LFHNflightstudent at 14 Apr 08:24
LFHN - Bellegarde - Vouvray France

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

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

I don’t see how you can land or take off in darkness. Even the special ops agent insertions into occupied France in WW2 had to have people on the ground lighting lines of fires, marking out the runway. I know a guy who used to do this in an SR22 with SV (night IMC and grass) and that might work if you have an accurate GPS It would also work with night vision / thermal imaging gear.

From your farm strip you could do this after “official night” (official sunset plus 30 mins, or whatever) because it is nowhere near dark then.

What happens at staffed aerodromes which don’t have runway lights, I don’t know. I would expect operations to be banned after (whatever they call) “dark”.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

It’s legal in our airfield.. The tower is usually off duty from 18-23 ,but it’s legal to land and take off. I have done it once- using ILS to track the runway and then relying on cessna’s landing light . Much prefer to do it when the runway is lit :)

EETU, Estonia

They give out awards for stunts like this…

Darwin awards….

LSZH, Switzerland

boscomantico wrote:

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

I have seen it often. Thought LFHN was one – until I read the VAC chart better :-)
No runway lighting – no mention of Day only. Mooney_Driver wrote:

They give out awards for stunts like this…

Darwin awards….

Do they? How is it worse than single engine TO at say like a 200ft ceiling, I personally struggle to see the difference.

Last Edited by LFHNflightstudent at 15 Apr 04:26
LFHN - Bellegarde - Vouvray France

Obviously you need enough light to see the runway ahead of you.

With a wide runway you could risk it and just follow the heading bug until you are at Vr and then pull. I have done this with one (cowboy) instructor during my PPL training. It is legal in Part 91 in the US (a zero zero departure) and was legal in an N-reg in Europe until some years ago, but I don’t think anybody did it literally.

You need to see the runway edges plus about 100m ahead of you to do it reasonably safely. I have departed in about 200m vis (unlit runway) and have a video of it but won’t post it It looks really spooky. Airliners can depart in 75m vis but they follow the centreline lights.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I don’t think zero zero take offs have been legal in Europe since the second world war, even in an N reg. Remember an N reg pilot must obey the regulations of the country of registration or the country in which the flight is taking place whichever is the most severe. If the pilot holds a different country’s licence that must be taken into account also. I think you will find this in ICAO annexe 2 as well as somewhere in EASA regs and also are normally reflected in those of the NAA.
I believe 400 m take off visibility is the lowest without permission from the competent authority, appropriate crew training and suitable equipment on board. I think that’s how I remember the IR theory, not sure why it would be less for VFR.

France
Why zero-zero? The landing lights show the runway numbers quite nicely from at least 1km , maybe a mile.. If I remember correctly,the flight visibilty minima for NVFR is 8km ,which is definitely not 00 . Add a full moon and it does not look so bad at all..
EETU, Estonia

Things are different in different parts of the world. Many runways in Canada have minimal lights or just reflectors. I had only reflectors for years for my home runway, though crosswind landings were difficult, as precise flying was required to keep the landing light illuminating the reflectors. Eventually, I installed four corner lights, just to alight the runway. ‘Problem is that the runway is in between trees, so the four corner lights are only all visible if you are already aligned with the runway, but once you are, maintaining that in a crosswind is okay. Recently, LED walkway lights have been a great addition every 200 feet. Great caution is needed for night takeoffs though, as once airborne, no other lights on the ground are visible until I’ve reached several hundred feet, so it is an instrument departure even on a clear night.

A runway at another locale was returned to operation by a friend and I decades back. It was 1600 feet long, and 30 feet wide. I had to fly his 182 back in after a long trip for him one night, there were no lights at that runway. Long before cell phones, after some difficulty, I confirmed that he had made runway lighting for my arrival. sure enough, as I approached the runway, I saw lights! As I turned final and switched on the landing light, I understood – smoke, he had lit fires! After touchdown, I saw concrete blocks, each with fiberglass insulation soaked with gasoline, set on fire. It worked well, thought was a lot of work. So we trenched in wires for lights. The lights were only the 30 feet apart, so it was easy to loose sight of all of them when you raised the nose on takeoff. We had no electrical service at that runway, so we ran the lights on a little Honda generator. It would run for hours on a tank – but not forever! One night after a very stressful poor weather flight, I was ten minutes ahead of him arriving home. I was flying a C206, and he in his C182. The 206 had no radio, it had quit. As I turned final, I could see his landing light approaching, so I relaxed, knowing that he had make it through the weather too. I landed, parked and sat going Ahhhhh… for a few minutes. As I did, he circled overhead, but did not land, just circled. As I sat in more puzzle, I got out of the 206, to walk over to my plane to call him on the radio – and I got it – the generator had run out of gas! I turned on the radio to hear a stream of expletives about getting the runway lights on again. I fueled the gen, and got him down safely.

I used to fly circuits on the local frozen lake at night, with no lights whatever, though I’m not entirely sure that met all the legal requirements.
Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada
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