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Runway Lights Required?

Discussion in 'CFI Corner' started by centralhome, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. centralhome

    centralhome Well-Known Member

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    I had a question. I know common sense would say you need them, but is there anything for Part 91 or 121 that says you must have runway lights to take off?
    Had a friend that someone reported him for taking off before the tower opened without the runway lights on. He said he turned them on and had to wait close to 15 minutes for his release, and says he honestly can not remember if they had cut off. He is worried now he will get in trouble. There is nothing in the company manual about it either. He said the lights on the plane are so bright, he can not be sure if the runway lights had cut off or not.
     
  2. butt

    butt Penalty Box

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    Theres no regulation requiring runway lights. At least not for part 91. I've landed a bunch of times without the lights being on, and I've taken off even more times without them on. Sometimes you find yourself on short final and the lights cut out. If you're low enough, sometimes your landing light will reach the runway and you don't need the runway lights anyway.
     
  3. taseal

    taseal Well-Known Member

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    ehhh, never heard of that...

    maybe there is something though, I kind of wondered that
     
  4. exleardriver

    exleardriver Well-Known Member

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    can't speak for part 121, but you're fine part 91. they aren't required, but they're certainly there to haelpto meet the req
     
  5. exleardriver

    exleardriver Well-Known Member

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    requirements of far 91.175 for an instrument approach. still,not required for part 91, but they'll help you meet the visual requirement to go below da/mda. nothing in part 91 says they're required.
     
  6. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    Who reported your friend to who? And why did they care? I swear, some people just need to mind their own business.

    Anyhow, there is no regulation against using a runway without lights, unless somebody wants to make a case for the "careless and reckless operation" reg.
     
  7. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    A bunch of times? I'm curious...why?

    I can see the whole "lights cut out on short final" thing happening every now and then, but I've got 150+ hours at night and that's only happened to me once or twice.

    As for taking off without lights, I've never personally done it, and only seen it done once, when a plane needed to get ferried out of an unlit strip and the pilot didn't have time to pick up the plane before dark.

    I just don't see the need to use a runway without lights very often. Be careful out there.
     
  8. subpilot

    subpilot Squawking 7600

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    pt 121 reduced visibility takeoffs require runway lights but that is all I can think of.
     
  9. Fly_Unity

    Fly_Unity Well-Known Member

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    I attempted one time to land at an airport without runway lights when it was pitch black, and never again unless there is an emergency, taking off isnt so bad.
     
  10. Schinpop

    Schinpop Well-Known Member

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    I got my PPL about 20 years ago flying out of Reid-Hillview in San Jose. They have parallel runways, one of which has lights and the other is not lit, "but available for use". We would land on the un-lit runway all the time for practice.
     
  11. caliginousface

    caliginousface Frank N. Beans

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    Hell yeh! And we're still doing it.
     
  12. BobDDuck

    BobDDuck Gone whale watching...

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    Nothing in part 121 says you can't but some places (especially after 5191) don't allow it via opspecs or FOM/GOM regulations.
     
  13. butt

    butt Penalty Box

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    One night when doing low approaches with a student under the hood, I noticed that you can still see the runway even when the runway lights are turned off. On a new moon night or a cloudy night, it won't work, but on clear, full moon nights it ain't even a thang.

    At the airport where I did most of my instructing, we had VASI lights that stayed on all the time, so you could use those lights to guide you down to 200AGL or something, and from there your landing light could pick up the pavement. It's not something I'd do every day, but it's good practice.

    As far as taking off, next time you do a night takeoff, line yourself up, then turn the lights off. Then turn them on again. Most likely, it doesn't make much difference. Theres this one airport I used to go to all the time that had the ramp only a hundred feet or so from the threshold. We would start up and do the runup from the ramp, then just taxi on out to the runway and leave. Most of the time, we'd just forget to turn the lights on and didn't even miss them. It's all about landing light strength.
     
  14. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough. Probably not that dangerous. But good practice for what?

    You're right, I've taxied on unlit runways before, and it doesn't make that big of a difference. I'm sure I could just put myself on centerline and blast off.

    My concern is what it looks like to be *choosing* to land or takeoff without runway lights. If anything goes wrong...I dunno, a gust of wind hits you and you swerve off the side, you don't flare at the proper time and bust the nosegear, you come in fast and slide off the end, or another plane taxis in front of you because they think no one is using the runway, I dunno...anything where the feds might get involved, it's going to be really hard to explain why you had plenty of time and opportunity to turn the lights on, yet you chose not to.

    That's why I say it's not a big deal to do it by mistake every now and then, but I would never go do it intentionally.
     
  15. butt

    butt Penalty Box

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    No offence, but you must not have much night flying experience. The runway lights don't really light anything up, they just denote where the runway/taxiway edge is. Their primary use is to navigate to the runway. Once you have found the runway, the lights have done their job. They don't really help with flaring, or anything like that.

    Having the runway lights off isn't going to make any difference if a plane taxis onto the runway in front of you. If anything, it'll make it easier, as his strobes and nav lights will be easier to make out.

    The landing light on the other hand.... I'd cancel a flight due to a burned out landing light way before I'd ever cancel a flight due to runway lights out (in most cases). I've done landings at night without a landing light, and it's way more scarier than landing without runway lights. You have no depth perception. It's like landing a plane from the back seat (which I've done before) and it totally sucks.
     
  16. mikecweb

    mikecweb They think I'm Mexican...

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    Awesome. It just keeps getting better and better with you Butt.
     
  17. Stone Cold

    Stone Cold Well-Known Member

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    I'd defer to the "careless and reckless" regs if you really want to push your luck. For those of you that don't see anything wrong with it...a local crew almost killed people due to no runway lights.

    They were coming back to their home airport after a long day, and couldn't get the lights to activate. So, they decided they'd rather be home (instead of landing some place else and finding out what the problem was), and knew the airport so they saw no problem with landing without lights.

    Unfortunately, the crew did not know there were people troubleshooting the lights at the time, and people near the runway. Nobody was injured but the FAA is investigating.

    I don't care how much night time you have, turn the lights on. It takes a few seconds to do, and if they aren't coming on, there might be a reason.

    No, it wasn't me, but I know the people involved.
     
  18. butt

    butt Penalty Box

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    Sounds to me like a NOTAMs issue, not a runway lights issue.
     
  19. Stone Cold

    Stone Cold Well-Known Member

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    So, how do you check NOTAMs when you're enroute? There was nothing on the AWOS recording, and they had been en-route. It still doesn't forgive them from landing at an airport without working lights.

    I know, Butt, you'd have known about it and done the right thing, but your attitude in this thread, along with others, has shown your lack of judgement. Why don't you tell us the story of landing an airplane from the back seat? I need something else to laugh at later when I check back on the boards...
     
  20. exleardriver

    exleardriver Well-Known Member

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    i had an air ambo flight in a lr-36xr about a decade ago. departed houston, flew to bermuda and picked up a patient with a broken leg/severe vascular condition. i cleared customs in richmond, va in the middle of the night and then proceeded to an uncontrolled field in western pa, close to a clinic that specialized in this type injury. a tornado, as it turned out, came though just about an hour before my arrival, knocking out power to the entire country. enroute, we couldn't pick up the awos, only static and nothing on the ctaf. ops prevented us part 135 from landing without runway lights, as in this case there were no lights..anywhere..of any kind. it was dark as hell everywhere on the ground..had to divert to pittsburgh, as badly as the medical crew wanted the patient on the ground. it was around 4 am and with patchy ground fog to boot. as for take-off's, i've only done one true reported zero/zero. i was a lear co-pilot at the time and it was out of toronto, returning to detroit, part 91. it was unnerving, even with the tdzl and centerline lighting, etc. to help orientate 'straight ahead'. this captain tended to push limits, fuel in particular. about a year after my upgrade and move to another company, he ran out of fuel in a lear, 50 miles west of el paso, augered it in..nothing remained but a black crater.
     

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