Are You Night Current?

We clarify a common confusion regarding the logging of nighttime landings.

Q: As a private pilot with a single-engine land rating on my certificate, if I log three takeoffs and landings to a full stop in a friend’s CubCrafters Sport Cub E-LSA equipped for night flight between 8:15 p.m. and 8:40 p.m., and official sunset is at 7:45 p.m., am I current to fly at night carrying passengers the next day in my Cessna 172?

A: With so many types of aircraft available to pilots, it can take some sorting through to ensure that your official landing currency lines up with the operation you’re planning.

First of all, the regs don’t specify separate recency of experience requirements for light sport airplanes versus Part 23 certificated ones, so your landings in the Cub count towards your overall currency to fly the 172 carrying passengers. You’d also meet tailwheel requirements for your flight the next day if you had a Cessna 170 instead of the tricycle-gear 172—and your tailwheel landings to a full stop cover you in the 172 as well.

The trick comes when you throw in night requirements. For the purposes of logging landings towards your ability to carry passengers at night, you need to make those landings to a full stop beginning 30 minutes after the end of civil twilight. Since sunset is at 7:45 p.m., civil twilight ends at 8:15 p.m.—and your landings would need to take place at 8:45 p.m., or later.

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