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Risk Management Federal Aviation

Decision Path Administration

Risk Management for
Night VFR Flying

associated with:

External Factors

by assessing: Reality
External Factors

by deciding whether to: Accept
rain. A VFR flight plan and VFR flight fol-
PURPOSE PRACTICES lowing are excellent practices for night
VFR. If the flight takes place above 5,000
Consider structuring a night training MSL, remind the pilot that oxygen can
Flying at night can be very or proficiency session as a short cross- help night vision.
enjoyable, if pilots under- country flight, with night takeoff and
stand the differences of landing practice at the destination air- 4. Descent/Approach: Be sure that
night flying and take the port. During each phase of the flight, the pilot understands the destination
necessary actions to pre- look for (or create) teachable moment airports runway layout and lighting.
pare for a safe flight. This scenarios that provide an opportunity Where is the rotating beacon in relation
guide suggests ways to teach risk man- to teach good risk management prac- to the runway or to terrain?
agement for safe VFR flying at night. tices for night VFR flying.
5. Landing/Parking: A new place can be
Sample Scenarios confusing in darkness, so teach the pilot
to keep a taxi diagram close by. During
PROFILE 1. Preflight: Ask the pilot to list hazards ground operations near other aircraft,
related to pilot (fatigue, night experi- do not use strobes or aim landing lights
ence), aircraft (working lights), environ- at other pilots.
Factors in night accidents often include ment (airport lighting, terrain), and ex-
errors in planning, decision-making, and ternal pressures (closing times). Stress Throughout the flight, ask the pilot to
risk management. Fatigue can contrib- the importance of a thorough preflight consider consequences of each deci-
ute to such errors. Its effects include: that includes checking all essential sion, list alternative actions, recognize
lights and reviewing the location of key the reality of the situation, and be sen-
circuit breakers. sitive to any external pressures that can
Channelized attention distract or drive an unsafe decision.
Poor judgment 2. Taxi/Takeoff: Simulate an electrical
Slowed reaction time failure during taxi to teach the impor-
Inattention tance of planning the taxi route, know-
Ease of distraction ing the airport layout, and positioning a
flashlight to illuminate the panel in case POSTFLIGHT
of electrical failure after takeoff. Use the
Other errors common in night VFR acci- Airport/Facility Directory to obtain the
dents include: correct frequencies for activating lights. Use the postflight discussion to ask
questions that let the pilot learn from
3. Enroute: Consider diverting the flight his or her decisions. For instance:
Lack of proper equipment (flash- due to simulated bad weather. Ask the
lights, batteries) pilot to select an alternate and explain What part(s) of the flight made you
Loss of situational awareness why it is a safe choice. Encourage use uncomfortable?
Problems with night vision of the Air Safety Foundations Terrain
Inadequate traffic scan Avoidance Planning tools, or carry IFR If you could change something you
Vulnerability to optical illusions enroute charts to help stay above ter- did, what would it be, and why?