Night Flying- Part 2- Airmanship
Table of Contents


The idea of airmanship as differentiated from Human Factors is a concept of operational and physical situational awareness. Airmanship refers to the consideration given to factors not covered explicitly in rules or by the physiological or socio-technological subjects covered in normal discussions about human factors. For night flying this would include acknowledgement of the additional restrictions placed on equipment, flight planning and emergency actions.

For example in a PPL night flight in a basic light aircraft the legal requirements require minimum equipment as listed above in the rules but airmanship would add other items. These may include carrying life jackets in case a diversion or emergency requires flight near or over water and the wearing life jackets rather than just carrying them in the aircraft. At night an emergency landing may be safer in the water which is relatively flat and obstacle free rather than on land. Statistics show water landings are often more survivable than many expect and it is often the lack of floatation after the event that results in fatalities rather than the landing or impact itself.

Another consideration would be carrying fuel that included the diversion in the onboard total before the legal minimums e.g. flight detail + diversion + reserve + unusable.

Good airmanship would also dictate the use of a flight plan or similar for effective flight following. Whereas a flight by day from a supervised airfield or training centre may be easily monitored the fact that less flying occurs at night may mean less supervision and awareness. A flight plan would allow Search and Rescue monitoring by Flight Information or Air Traffic Control.

Additionally, planning for the flight might also need to consider airspace boundary and usage changes brought about by the change in status of airspace after sunset, whether control towers are active or not, whether alternates are equipped with lighting and services and the pilot may also wish to prepare a chart with diversion routes and safe altitudes already marked out.

None of the examples included above include factoring required by law or general human factors topics, yet should be part of the basic considerations undertaken by a pilot prior to flying privately at night.

Many of these considerations may be covered for commercial flights by operational requirements, reflecting the higher planning standards required and the increased level of flight supervision applied to such flights.

Want to know more?

More about situational awareness can be found here Situational Awareness and here Flight Crew Situational Awareness
More about night flying here Night Flying-Part 1-Rules and here Night Flying-Part 3-Human Factors



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