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Landing on Unlit Runway at Night

Discussion in 'Technical Talk' started by braunpilot, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. braunpilot

    braunpilot What day is it?

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    Can you land on a runway at night, that the runway lights are not on? See it happen often and I end up on the lit runway. Just curious. Any references would be awesome.
  2. Blip16

    Blip16 Well-Known Member

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    pilot discretion unless SOP's dictate otherwise
  3. ProudPilot

    ProudPilot Aeronautics Geek

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    I did it all the time. Now the challenge is trying to land on an unlit runway without a landing light. I've never had the Cahones.
  4. Blip16

    Blip16 Well-Known Member

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    usually ends up being a real good "SMACK!"
  5. Roger Roger

    Roger Roger Dangerous

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    Done it.
  6. Boris Badenov

    Boris Badenov It's a long way to Tipperary!

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    No law that I'm aware of prohibiting it. Not surprisingly, I've done both (sometimes because I forgot to turn the lights on and found myself flaring and thinking "something doesn't look right"). No runway lights is not a big deal. No landing light, as mentioned above, seems often to end with a bit of a thump.
  7. ASpilot2be

    ASpilot2be ex-bush rat

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    I landed in Eugene with no landing light at night. Even though the runway was lit, it was very dark and eerie.
  8. grkero

    grkero Well-Known Member

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    I haven't done that, but I would think you could treat it like a glassy water landing in a seaplane. Just pitch for flare and set a little bit of power and hold it until you feel the ground. I guess it is similar to a soft field landing, as far as landing with a little bit of power.
  9. z987k

    z987k Other Barry.

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    There's a straight in approach to an unlit runway in KLGD, says straight in NA at night. There's a VASI though, and you'd be able to see that thing better in low vis than the lights to the other runway that's 40-50 some degrees off.
  10. Hubbs

    Hubbs Well-Known Member

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    As a CFI, I used a fairly repeatable drill with my privates students getting the 10 night landings. It would start with me demoing the first with everything lit up, and would end with them landing with no landing light, runway lights or instrument lights. Along the way they'd do a couple with everything on, and couple each with one failure. I figured it was a good idea for them to experience it in a controlled environment before it happened on a solo night XC.
  11. fbm2009

    fbm2009 Well-Known Member

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    i dont recommend it...

    unless you have a clean pair of tighty-whities...
  12. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    I can't think of any specific reference prohibiting it.

    The question I ask myself in such situations though is, "If something bad happens, how will I explain this to the feds/chief pilot?"

    If I have a good, safety-based explanation, I go for it. If not, I don't.
    mshunter likes this.
  13. Houston

    Houston Well-Known Member

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    I know of a 121 operator departing from an unlit runway, but with all lights working on the aircraft. The bottom line was there was no regulatory prohibition other than a subjective 14 CFR 91.13(a) consideration. In this case, there also were no other controlling requirements that prohibited it, but that could well be different for a different operator.

    The question of landing to an unlit runway was not an issue, however if a flight were conducted under Instrument Flight Rules, then 14 CFR 91.175 would be a consideration.

    As several people have already written, if it is a Visual Flight Rules operation under Part 91, the pilot is allowed a wide range of discretionary judgment. However, 14 CFR 91.13(a) is always there as a regulation that can call such judgment into question.
  14. ryan1234

    ryan1234 burning the agitprop

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    Landing on an unlit runway with a landing light isn't that big of a deal in something small.. Never tried it in a biz jet though...

    Landing on an unlit runway without a landing light is a bit more tricky... the only time I did it, treated it more like a glassy water landing (as someone mentioned above)... the only problem is that if there isn't much a moon out, finding an LVR would be a bit tricky.
  15. TwoTwoLeft

    TwoTwoLeft o- - - - - - -l

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    It's one of those things that's legal because nowhere does it say that you can't do it. But there are some considerations to take...


    My home airport doesn't have runway lights. We don't completely meet the standard approach slope and lateral clearance requirements to provide night operations, so we wont ever have lights... In the AFD it has to say "Night Operations Prohibited" per Cal Trans requirement. However, the airport is privately owned but open for public use. Night operations are not illegal, and the Manager's position is "land at your own risk" If there were to be a reportable accident/incident then I'm sure the FAA will bring "Careless & Wreckless" to the party. And you and you're insurance company would not be good friends either... The flight school doesn't allow night ops in their airplanes at the airport but they're more lenient with the CFIs. We can do night takeoffs and if we can still see the runway to land we're good to go.

    I've done night landings in non-flight school planes here. One time we were met by the local police (3 cars) at the hanger. They asked us why we didnt stop earlier and pull over off the taxiway when they got behind us and flashed their lights. THEN they asked us if we had been drinking and to see our license, registration and insurance... because night landings were illegal... We told them "NO" and kept pushing the plane into the hangar.... True story.
  16. Inverted25

    Inverted25 Well-Known Member

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    this has got me thinking. Are you required to carry proof of insurance in an airplane? The registration is obviously there and you are required to have your license but I have never thought about carrying the insurance in the plane
  17. BajtheJino

    BajtheJino I find your lack of Faith disturbing.

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    Never knew insurance was a requirement to own/operate an airplane. Know several people that don't have insurance on their weekend warhorses.
  18. Rudabega

    Rudabega Well-Known Member

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    Part 135 (probobly part 121 as well) You must have runway lights if you have passengers. 135.229 (b) (2) (i)

    Part 91 Do whatever you want.

    If you have a decent amount of moonlight or a landing light it isn't hard.
  19. TwoTwoLeft

    TwoTwoLeft o- - - - - - -l

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    Not per FAA for pt 91. Maybe for a certain kind of operation... Sometimes you're required to carry insurance paperwork with a hold-harmless agreement if you're a civilian operating out of government property. For airshows and IAC contests we had to show proof of insurance, but we're not required to have it on the airplane. 135 and 121 might be a different story...
  20. Autothrust Blue

    Autothrust Blue Tough, competent.

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    Of course you can.

    But where I work, you'd be fired (and maybe violated), because it's prohibited by the FOM.

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