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Night Flying

Night flight has certain inherent risks. the five most important questions a pilot can ask or review before a night flight are: full briefing from a Flight Service Station or by using a DUAT session.

An important part of that briefing will be NOTAMs.

1.NOTAMs are classified into three categories: NOTAM (D) or distant,NOTAM (L) or local; and Flight Data Center (FDC) NOTAMs. Distant airport, the NOTAMs you receive typically will include information on navigational facilities, frequency changes, and regu-
latory amendments, local NOTAMs include such information as runway or taxiway closures and airport lighting outages. A total or partial outage of a Visual Approach Slope Indicator (VASI) or Runway End Identifier Lights (REIL) system, to obtain a local
NOTAM for your destination airport is to call the FSS responsible (see Airport/Facility Directory) or to call the airport manager.

2.Illusions rank among the most common factorscited as contributing to fatal accidents:Spatial disorientation from these illusions can be prevented only by visual reference to reliable, fixed points onthe ground or to flight instruments.For more information on the illusions such as: Coriolis illusion; Graveyard spiral; Somatogravic illusion; False horizon; Autokinesis; Elevator illusion and the Inversion illusion.
Illusions Leading to LandingErrors. * Runway width illusion. * Runway and terrain slopes illusion. * Featureless terrain illusion. * Atmospheric Illusions. * Ground lighting illusions.

3.Visual or electronic glide slope is available. Check before departing to your destination. - Some of the not-so common indicators include the * Tri-color System, * Pulsating System, * Alignment of Element System, * Three-bar VASI.

4.Operation of airport lighting systems: (rotating beacons, approach lights, VASI, REIL, taxiway lights and runway lights) may be controlled by the control tower, a Flight Service Station (FSS) or by the pilot with radio control. On runways with both approach light ing and runway lighting (runway edge lights, taxiway lights, etc.) systems, the approach lighting system takes prece dence for air to ground radio control over the runway lighting system. Note: Although the CTAF is used to activate lights at many airports, other frequencies may also be used. The appropriate frequency for activating the lights on the airport can only be found in the Airport/Facility Directory, or on a standard instrument approach procedures publication. It is not identified on the sectional charts.

5.Terrain -  Avoiding terrain at night is easier if altitudes shown on VFR and IFR charts are used as part of your pre flight planning.
* VFR Charts show Maximum El evation Figures (MEFs). * IFR enroute low altitude charts contain Off Route Obstruction
Clearance Altitudes (OROCA).

Adapted from the article - Night Flying Tips: By Adrian A. Eichhorn


PAPI- Precision Approach Path Indicator

The PAPI System provides the pilot a positive visual indication of the aircraft’s position relative to the optimal glide slope during final approach to the runway. The PAPI system consists of four units in a line or bar, each unit having two or three 200 watt lamps. The PAPI unit produces a beam of light, the upper portion being white, the lower red. As the pilot’s vertical position changes, the color of the light as seen by the pilot changes instantaneously. The Style A PAPI uses a Power and Control Unit (PCU) which has a photocell for automatic day/night intensity control. The PCU can be operated by using a radio controller signaled by an approaching aircraft. The Style B PAPI is powered by an  constant current regulator.



Red LED aviation obstruction lights. Steady-burning obstruction lights are used to mark tall structures that present hazards to air navigation. At night, these lights warn pilots when installed in accordance with FAA AC 70/7460-1 and applicable FCC and ICAO rules. It uses PPC photoelectric controller or options to provide automatic activation at dusk in accordance with FAA specifications.

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