Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Night Currency

CARS 401.05 Recency Requirements states in part that:

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Subpart, no holder of a flight crew permit or licence, other than the holder of a flight engineer licence, shall exercise the privileges of the permit or licence in an aircraft unless the holder

(b) where a passenger other than a flight test examiner designated by the Minister is carried on board the aircraft, has completed, within the six months preceding the flight,

(i) in the case of an aircraft other than a glider or a balloon, in the same category and class of aircraft as the aircraft, or in a Level B, C or D simulator of the same category and class as the aircraft, at least

(A) five night or day take-offs and five night or day landings, if the flight is conducted wholly by day, or

(B) five night take-offs and five night landings, if the flight is conducted wholly or partly by night,

The short version of that is that in order to carry passengers at night, you have to have done five take offs and landings by night in the last six months. The idea is that if you've forgotten how to land at night, you're only going to terrify yourself.

Yes, the rules for night in Canada are substantially different from the United States, whose licence holders require three night landings and take-offs to a full stop in 90 days. I'm not sure the purpose of the full stop part, and whether that would be served by doing stop-'n'-go landings (where you brake to a complete stop on the runway and then take off again from the same runway without exiting). The ninety day versus six month thing is easily explained though: in Canada darkness becomes so short in the winter that it's possible for someone working a regular operation to go four or five months without conducting many take-offs or landings at night. The rules avoid penalizing those operators and pilots in the fall when the evenings darken.

I'm flying two classes of aircraft for my current job, and recently I realized that I was night current on only one class, yet scheduled to fly the other class on a flight that would end after official nightfall. How to gain currency?

We don't have a class B, C, or D simulator, so I did the same thing that dozens of pilots do every fall. I started up an airplane with no passengers on board, and taxiied out for five circuits. A circuit consists of a take-off, a neatly flown rectangle around the runway, and a landing. If runway length and local rules permit, you can immediately take off again into the next circuit. Americans call the circuit the pattern, but they would say they were going out to fly touch and goes, not "patterns." Canadians would also use that terminology, but it's more slangy.

Many operations have more stringent requirements for take-off and landing currency, but ours doesn't. Now I'm legal.


Anonymous said...

For U.S. readers, it would also be worth mentioning that Canadian pilots require a night rating to fly at night at all, as well as night recency if we want to carry passengers.

There are always a couple of planes doing night circuits at Ottawa (CYOW) in the evening, once we actually have dark evenings again -- tower does a good job fitting us in with all the jets and turboprops, and the five circuits usually pass very quickly.

dibabear said...

Yes, a "stop n go" counts toward night currency in the U.S. The FAR says "to a full stop" but don't mention taxiing back so given enough runway, a "stop n go" is allowed.

Greybeard said...

Your post tweaked a memory about another possible difference 'tween Canada, and the U.S. of A......

In 1978,we sold a Bell 206B JetRanger (single engine) to an outfit from Canada. The pilot they sent down flew in at Noon. By the time he had inspected the aircraft and examined all the paperwork, it was almost 4 P.M..

In conversation he said he was required to wear a helmet, (Company requirement?), and needed a new one. I had one to sell, but it was at my home, a 30 minute flight away.

He needed to do a thorough test flight, so my thought was that we'd go grab the helmet on the test flight.....two birds with one stone!

We had removed the controls on the left side of this aircraft....they didn't need 'em.

We flew to my local airport, and my gal brought the helmet to us, and suggested we grab a bite to eat.

During our meal, this guys behavior began to be VERY strange.......nervous...distracted.
I finally couldn't stand it any longer....."What is bugging you?"

His response....."what time does it get dark around here?"

It was already dusk. He was now frantic!

He had virtually NO night experience......claimed you guys in the "Great White North" don't fly singles at night!

I flew the aircraft home....without benefit of insurance coverage. Very uncomfortable situation!

Was this true? Is it true now?

Aviatrix said...

Even in 1978, single engine night flying wasn't illegal in Canada, but in mountainous areas single engine night with passengers was forbidden. It's quite possible that your pilot's company ops manual forbade night single operations.