Chapter 10 Night Operations

Night Vision
Night Illusions
Pilot Equipment
Airplane Equipment and Lighting
Airport and Navigation Lighting Aids
Preparation and Preflight
Starting, Taxiing, and Runup
Takeoff and Climb
Orientation and Navigation
Approaches and Landings
Night Emergencies
Table of Contents


Perhaps the pilot’s greatest concern about flying a single- engine airplane at night is the possibility of a complete engine failure and the subsequent emergency landing. This is a legitimate concern, even though continuing flight into adverse weather and poor pilot judgment account for most serious accidents.

If the engine fails at night, several important procedures and considerations to keep in mind are:

  • Maintain positive control of the airplane and establish the best glide configuration and airspeed. Turn the airplane towards an airport or away from congested areas.
  • Check to determine the cause of the engine malfunction, such as the position of fuel selectors, magneto switch, or primer. If possible, the cause of the malfunction should be corrected immediately and the engine restarted.
  • Announce the emergency situation to Air Traffic Control (ATC) or UNICOM. If already in radio contact with a facility, do not change frequencies, unless instructed to change.
  • If the condition of the nearby terrain is known, turn towards an unlighted portion of the area. Plan an emergency approach to an unlighted portion.
  • Consider an emergency landing area close to public access if possible. This may facilitate rescue or help, if needed.
  • Maintain orientation with the wind to avoid a downwind landing.
  • Complete the before landing checklist, and check the landing lights for operation at altitude and turn ON in sufficient time to illuminate the terrain or obstacles along the flightpath. The landing should be completed in the normal landing attitude at the slowest possible airspeed. If the landing lights are unusable and outside visual references are not available, the airplane should be held in level-landing attitude until the ground is contacted.
  • After landing, turn off all switches and evacuate the airplane as quickly as possible.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication