Operations resources

Operations

Night VFR

Alternates

General AIP ENR 1.1

The pilot in command must make provision for flight to an alternate aerodrome in accordance with the following paragraphs.

When a flight is required to provide for an alternate aerodrome, any aerodrome may be so nominated for that flight provided that:

  • it is suitable as a destination for that flight and
  • it is not an aerodrome for which an alternate would also be required.

Weather

The pilot in command must provide for a suitable alternate aerodrome when arrival at the destination will be during the currency of, or up to, 30 minutes before the forecast commencement of meteorological conditions falling below VFR alternate minima:

  • For aeroplanes by day or night, or for helicopters by night only:<
    • cloud base ceiling of 1500 ft AGL and
    • a visibility of 8 km.

Radio navigation aids

A flight permitted to operate under night VFR must provide an alternate aerodrome within a one hour flight time of the destination unless:

  • the destination is served by a radio navigation aid (NDB/VOR) and the aircraft is fitted with the appropriate radio navigation system capable of using the aid or
  • the aircraft is fitted with an approved GNSS receiver, and the pilot and aircraft are authorised for its operation (see AIP GEN 1.5).

Runway lighting

Portable lighting

When a flight is planned to land at night at an aerodrome where the runway lighting is portable, an alternate is required unless arrangements are made for a responsible person to be in attendance during the arrival and departure times as specified in aerodrome lighting—times of activation (see page 3.133), to ensure that the runway lights are available.

Standby power

When a flight is planned to land at night at an aerodrome with electric runway lighting, whether pilot activated or otherwise, but without standby power, an alternate is required unless portable runway lights are available and arrangements have been made for a responsible person to be in attendance during the arrival and departure times specified in aerodrome lighting—times of activation (see page 3.133), to display the portable lights in the event of a failure of the primary lighting.

This alternate need not have standby power or standby portable runway lighting.

Pilot activated lighting (PAL)

When a flight is planned to land at night at an aerodrome with PAL and standby power, an alternate is required unless a responsible person is in attendance to switch on the aerodrome lighting manually

This alternate need not have standby power or standby portable runway lighting.

Alternate aerodromes – PAL

An aerodrome may be nominated as an alternate provided that, if the aircraft is fitted with a single VHF communication, the alternate aerodrome must be one which is:

  • served by a lighting system which is not pilot activated; or
  • served by PAL, with a responsible person in attendance to manually switch on the aerodrome lighting.

For private, airwork and charter night VFR operations, where the alternate aerodrome is served by PAL, there is no need for a responsible person on the ground to be in attendance, but the aircraft must be equipped with:

  • dual VHF or
  • single VHF and HF communications and carry 30 minutes holding fuel to allow for the alerting of ground staff in the event of a failure of the aircraft’s VHF communication.

Aerodrome lighting – times of activation AIP ENR 1.1

When aerodrome lighting is required and PAL is not being used, the pilot in command or operator must ensure that arrangements have been made for the lighting to be operating during the following periods:

  • Departure—from at least 10 minutes before departure to at least 30 minutes after take-off and
  • Arrival—from at least 30 minutes before ETA to when landing and taxiing have been completed.

The above shall apply to runway, obstacle and taxiway lighting.

Responsible person AIP ENR 1.1

A responsible person referred to above in relation to portable lights, is one who has been instructed in, and is competent to display, the standard runway lighting with portable lights.

Fuel to first light

The alternate requirements above need not be applied if the aircraft carries holding fuel for first light plus 10 minutes at the destination.

Controlled aerodrome lighting AIP ENR 1.1 – 96 para 59.4.1 (note 4)

Aerodrome lighting at an aerodrome where a control tower is operating will be activated by ATC as necessary. Pilots requiring aerodrome lighting outside the control tower’s published hours should use PAL, if available, or make appropriate arrangements with ATC. If ATC has already ceased duty, requests should be directed to the local aerodrome operator. Confirmation should be obtained that requests for lighting will be satisfied.

A pilot having made arrangements with ATC for night lighting must notify any change in requirements.

A pilot who has made arrangements with ATC for night lighting must notify any change in requirements.

Non-controlled aerodrome lighting AIP ENR 1.1 – 96 para 59.4.1 (note 6)

Aerodrome lighting at non-controlled aerodromes should be arranged directly with the aerodrome operator, or by using PAL facilities, if available.

ERSA identifies locations where selected runway lighting is routinely left switched on during the hours of darkness.

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