4 Tips for Night Landings.

As flight instructors we have noticed how difficult and strange night landings can be for new pilots. The lack of light and dimension can pose difficult problems for those pilots that are new to night landings. From our thousands of hours of flight instruction we have come up with the 4 tips below that have helped our students to grasp safe night landing techniques.

1. Proper cockpit and environmental lighting.

This technique is often overlooked. It is vitally important that the runway and cockpit lighting be conducive to night landings.

Many new students will turn up the cockpit and runway lighting to full intensity to try and provide for better visibility (runway lights can often be brightened or dimmed by clicking the mic button on the correct CTAF frequency for the airport). From our experience we have noticed that this may not always be the best technique. We have noticed that students who dim the cockpit and runway lights below their brightest settings actually have an easier time judging the round out and the flare of the night landing.

We would suggest that new pilots experiment with different lighting setting to see which one suits them best, rather than just simply landing with all lights set to full bright.

2. Proper use of VASI’s and PAPI’s.

Glide path lighting will keep pilots safe when they are on final approach to a runway, this is especially crucial when performing a night landing.

Be sure to stay on the proper glide path on final so as to avoid obstacles (that are difficult to see at night), and to be in the proper position to perform a safe round out and flare as the runway is approached.

3. Be precise on your final approach airspeed.

Night landings can often increase the stress levels of new pilots. Because of the lack of visual cues from the external environment, it can be difficult for pilots to accurately judge the speed of their aircraft.

Be sure that you keep a close eye on your airspeed while continuing to watch external visual cues (such as the runway environment and glide path lighting). The last thing you want to do on your night landing is to get too slow or too fast on final approach.

4. Look down the runway.

Just as you would during day landings! Judging the round out and flare is most easily accomplished through peripheral vision rather than direct vision.

This is often a difficulty technique for new pilots. The runway environment is often dark and a new students eyes are often drawn to what they can see best, which is the area immediately in front of the aircraft. This is the most lighted area because of the aircrafts landing lights. However, it is important that pilots move their vision toward the back end of the runway just prior to the round out and flare. This will help the pilot judge his height above the ground through his peripheral vision.

Night landings can be fun challenges for pilots if done with the proper night landing techniques for precision and safety.

Wishing you clear skies and tailwinds.

2017-01-16T18:40:18+00:00 May 15th, 2016|

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