20-Nov-2013 Source: ATSB
Aerial work and private flights were permitted under the visual flight rules in dark night conditions, which are effectively the same as instrument meteorological conditions, but without sufficient requirements for proficiency checks and recent experience to enable flight solely by reference to the flight instruments.
Response to safety issue by: the Civil Aviation Safety Authority
On 18 October 2013, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) stated that as part of the new pilot licencing rules (in development prior to August 2011), Civil Aviation Safety Regulation 61.970 will require pilots to demonstrate competency during biennial night visual flight rules assessments, which become effective in December 2013. As noted in Minimum requirements for night operations, this will certainly help maintain some pilots’ ability to a higher level than previously, but it will not ensure that the pilots are able to maintain their skills at an instrument rating standard.
CASA also advised of the following actions:
The proposed changes project will be subject to CASA’s normal consultation requirements.
ATSB comment/action in response:
The ATSB welcomes the intent of the action proposed by CASA in response to this safety issue. In particular, the ATSB agrees that expanding what is meant by the term ‘visibility’ at night to include the requirement for a visual horizon will help ensure that pilots operating under the night VFR will have sufficient visual cues. However, given the importance of the safety issue, the ATSB is concerned about the indefinite nature of the proposed evaluation and other exploratory activities.
As a result, the ATSB has issued the following safety recommendation.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority prioritise its efforts to address the safety risk associated with aerial work and private flights as permitted under the visual flight rules in dark night conditions, which are effectively the same as instrument meteorological conditions, but without sufficient requirements for proficiency checks and recent experience to enable flight solely by reference to the flight instruments.
|Who it affects:||All aircraft operating under the night visual flight rules (VFR)|
|Issue owner:||Civil Aviation Safety Authority|
|Operation affected:||Aviation: General aviation|
|Background:||Investigation Report AO-2011-102|
|Current issue status:||Safety action pending|