Night Operations Training

This waiver from daylight operations allows you to fly after sunset, and before sunrise.  This training course will satisfy the training requirement outlined in the Part 107 waiver that Airware has received, and teach the skills needed to operate at night. This includes physiology focusing on night vision, stress, visual illusions, and other factors. The course will also cover how to properly use aircraft and other support equipment as it applies to night operations, and procedures to follow. 

Waiver from Daylight operations Summary

Waiver Summary

Night flying requirements

Standard provisions

  • Cannot be used with other waivers except for airspace waivers. 

  • Airware is responsible for the safe operations conducted under this waiver.

  • A copy of this waiver must be kept with the operator, either digital or physical. 

  • RPIC and VO Must be trained. An outline of the provided training is below. 

Visual Observer

  • Any night operations conducted under this waiver must use a VO. Both VO and RPIC must maintain visual line of sight to know the position, attitude, orientation, and altitude. 

Operations

  • The area of operation must be well lit. If it is not, a daytime site assessment must be done. Follow the site survey standard checklist noting any obstacles that may impede you at night. 

  • Flight must be no higher than 200 feet above structures or 400' AGL, whichever is higher. 

Lighting

  • Only Airware approved aircraft can be used for operations under our Waiver. Right now, only the DJI Inspire 1 Pro with stock lighting is approved for night time use. 


Vision

Night vision: Blind spot, night adaptation, scanning techniques, and night vision protection

Visual Acuity at Night

Night acuity is the range of ability for any individual to see at night. Many factors contribute to low acuity at night including vitamin deficiencies, smoking, alcohol intake, certain drugs, and lack of oxygen. There are also certain illusions that can occur when operating at night. To really understand why this is, it is important to understand how the eyes work. 

Cones and rods are used to see colored images both directly and through peripheral. During the day, the cones are used to pick up color and concentrate them on the fovea, located in the middle of the eye, at night the rods, which are located closer to the outside of the eye is used. This creates a blind spot in the center of the eye, and objects viewed directly will be difficult to see. A more effective technique for acquiring obstacles, and traffic at night is off-center viewing. Meaning, don't look directly at what you're trying to see! 

Another factor that reduces visual acuity is exposure to white light, or any bright light. Your eyes takes time to become night adapted, therefore it is recommended that you do your site survey with white light only if necessary, but make sure to allow 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness prior to operating. This can be done with red light headlamps, screen filters, and other things that will be covered in this training. 


Night Vision Illusions and remedies

Autokinesis

Autokinesis is the illusion of a stationary light appearing to move. This is caused by staring at a point of light for more than few moments against a dark background. 

Remedy: To overcome this illusion, operators must insure that they use a scanning technique, occasionally shifting focus to other objects.

Reversible Perspective

At night, orientation of objects is harder to determine and the motion of the object can be reversed.

Remedy: Rely on anticollision lighting to determine the motion and orientation of your aircraft, as well as any manned aircraft that could be in the area. 

Size-Distance Illusion

Size-distance illusions are false perceptions of distance and size from unfamiliar objects when compared to similar objects that the operator is accustomed to seeing. For example, an operator flying a building at night may incorrectly perceive the height of the building, or the distance of the building from the takeoff and landing area. 

Remedy: Ensure familiarity with the operational site by either flying in a well lit areas, or conducting site assessment during the day to note obstacle heights and distances. 

Fixation

Target fixation can fall into two categories. The first is task saturation. This occurs when an operator is too focused on a flight display, or other tasks, and is not watching the aircraft. This can result in a collision, and is more likely to occur at night because of other visual illusions. 

Target fixation occurs when the operator is focused on only the aircraft rather than the aircraft, and obstacles around it. 

Remedy: Utilized night scanning techniques scanning sectors of sky while using off-center viewing. 

Effects of drugs, and alcohol on visual acuity

Many factors contribute to low acuity at night including vitamin deficiencies, smoking, alcohol intake, certain drugs, and lack of oxygen. Deficiencies in vitamin A and C have been shown to reduce night vision, so it is important to ensure you are nourished before flight!

Procedures and techniques

Techniques for night operations

Scanning Technique

Good night visual acuity is needed for collision avoidance. Night scanning, like day scanning, uses a series of short, regularly spaced eye movements in 10° sectors. Unlike day scanning, however, off-center viewing is used to focus objects on the rods rather than the fovea blindspot.

When looking at an object, avoid staring at it too long. If staring at an object without moving the eyes, the retina becomes accustomed to the light intensity and the image begins to fade. To keep it clearly visible, new areas in the retina must be exposed to the image. Small, circular eye movements help eliminate the fading. Also, move the eyes more slowly from sector to sector than during the day to prevent blurring. Depending on the situation, you can use techniques for scanning like the ones below. 

Other tips for operating at night

  • If light is required during the flight, use only red light to preserve night vision. Use white light for preflight inspection, ensuring you have at least 30 minutes to dark adaptation prior to flight. 
  • Dim the screen on all Primary Flight Displays
  • Obstructions having poor reflective surfaces, such as wires and small tree limbs, are difficult to detect. The best way to locate wires is by looking for the support structures.

Required Equipment

Night operations require additional equipment aside from the standard pack out kit. This includes:

  • Night operations approved aircraft
  • Head lamp with red and white light
  • Flashlight
  • Two-way radio, for communication with VO
  • Spare batteries for flashlight and head lamp
  • Night flight waiver documentation


Site Assessment

The RPIC and VO must ensure that the area of operation is sufficiently illuminated to allow both the RPIC and VO identify people and obstacles on the ground. If the area is not illuminated, a site assessment must be done during the day prior to night operations. This assessment must, at a minimum:

  1. Note building heights
  2. Note maximum obstacle height, and minimum flight altitude
  3. Note areas of ingress/egress around areas where the aircraft is not over the building

 

Determining Aircraft Orientation

Unmanned Aircraft Orientation

The FAA has standard aircraft lighting configurations that are published, however no standard configuration exists for unmanned aircraft operating under Part 107 waiver, therefore it is the responsibility of the RPIC to know and understand how the unmanned aircraft is equipped, and what orientation the aircraft is in depending on that configuration. Here is an example of the DJI Inspire 1 Pro lighting configuration and orientation. 

Manned Aircraft Orientation

As stated above, manned aircraft haves standard lighting. Red light on the left wing tip and green light on the right, with a white light on tail. 

From these lights, you can deduce the orientation of the aircraft.

 

Test your knowledge

Visual Illusions

  • Autokenisis
    False perception that point of light is moving
  • Fixation
    Focusing on either the aircraft, or a task on the ground
  • Size-Distance Illusion
    Relying on familiar object dimensions leading to misinterpretation of structures, and objects
  • Reversible Perspective
    False perception of object orientation

To ensure your eyes are night adapted, you should not expose your eyes to bright light for at least

  • 10 minutes
  • 20 minutes
  • 30 minutes

Operating under a Part 107 waiver from day light opeartions requires a Visual Observer

  • True
  • False

Remote PIC's require night training, but Visual Observers do not.

  • True
  • False

What is the maximum altitude when flying under a Waiver from daytime only operations?

  • 400 feet AGL
  • 200 feet AGL
  • 200 feet AGL above the structure

What is the best way to scan for objects at night?

  • Series of short regularly spaced eye movements utilizing off-center viewing
  • Fixating on single points for 10 seconds at a time with off center viewing
  • Series of short Regularly spaced eye movements using direct vision

Which one of these images indicates an aircraft moving left to right?