(a) Subject to the limitations of paragraph (b) of this section, a person is not required to comply with the night flight training requirements of this subpart [Subpart E – Private Pilots] if the person receives flight training in and resides in the State of Alaska.FAR 61.110 Night flying exceptions
If you’re training for a private pilot certificate in Alaska, and you are also residing in Alaska, you have some exceptions to the night flight training requirements that are spelled out in FAR 61.109. I myself did not do my private pilots certificate in Alaska (nor have I ever been to Alaska), but I did find myself researching this for a podcast I’m recording about FAR 61.109(a). In my research, I kept coming across statements that insinuated that the reason for this exception was because the weather conditions in Alaska make it difficult to conduct night training flights for much of the year. This may be a common reason for utilizing the Alaska night exception, and there is nothing in the regulation preventing anyone from using it this way, but it is not the reason the FAA put it in place! I will get to that later…
(b) A person who receives flight training in and resides in the State of Alaska but does not meet the night flight training requirements of this section:
(1) May be issued a pilot certificate with a limitation “Night flying prohibited”; and
(2) Must comply with the appropriate night flight training requirements of this subpart [Subpart E-Private Pilots] within the 12-calendar-month period after the issuance of the pilot certificate. At the end of that period, the certificate will become invalid for use until the person complies with the appropriate night training requirements of this subpart. The person may have the “Night flying prohibited” limitation removed if the person-
(i) Accomplishes the appropriate night flight training requirements of this subpart; and
(ii) Presents to an examiner a logbook or training record endorsement from an authorized instructor that verifies accomplishment of the appropriate night flight training requirements of this subpart.FAR 61.110 Night flying exceptions
Why does the Alaska night exception exist? Well according to the Federal Register (Docket No. 25910, 62 FR 16298, April 4, 1997) this rule exists because of Alaska’s high latitude. Specifically the parts of Alaska where they can have daylight for weeks if not months at a time in the summer. This makes getting night experience difficult or impossible during those times. FAR 61.110 (a)&(b) allows someone to take the private pilot practical test and obtain a private pilots certificate without complying with the night requirements of FAR 61.109 [aeronautical experience required for private pilots]. Using this loophole does come with some caveats though! For example…
- The back of your private pilot certificate is going to have “NIGHT FLYING PROHIBITED” printed under the “LIMITATIONS” section on the back of that beautiful green card.
- For most people in The U.S. of A. this “night flying prohibited” thing wouldn’t be the end of the world, but for the great people of Alaska this can be quite limiting as they have precious little daylight throughout the fall, winter and spring months.
- They CAN NOT avoid this night training indefinitely, as they must complete the required night training per FAR61.109 within 12 calendar months of the private certificate being issued to them.
- To have the “NIGHT FLYING PROHIBITED” removed from the back of that pretty green card you must show an examiner proof that you have complied with the night training requirements of FAR 61.109.
- If the night training requirements for FAR 61.109 are not met within 12 calendar months of the issue date on the private certificate the certificate becomes invalid until the night training requirements are met.
While finding night time conditions in the Alaskan summer can be difficult, finding daylight hours to fly in the winter can be just as challenging. For example…
The day that I’m writing this (November 18th, 2019) the sunrises at 12:44PM and sets at 1:40PM in Barrow(Utqiagvik), Alaska according to the FAA’s Sunrise / Sunset calculator. That is less than an hour of daylight. Now if we go by the definition of “Night” in FAR1.1 you could still fly during the “civil twilight” hours. Morning civil twilight began at 10:09AM and evening civil ended at 4:15PM today, so you technically had over 6 full hours of not legally flying at night.
This just progressively gets worse for the rest of the year. In fact, today was the last day that the sun will rise in Barrow, Alaska in 2019. It won’t rise again until January 22nd, 2020… And December 20th through 22nd, 2019, the civil twilight hours a pilot could technically fly without night privileges as defined in FAR1.1 would be less than 3 hours.
(c) A person who does not meet the night flying requirements in 61.109 (d)(2), (i)(2), or (j)(2) may be issued a private pilot certificate with the limitation “Night flying prohibited.” This limitation may be removed by an examiner if the holder complies with the requirements of 61.109(d)(2), (i)(2), or (j)(2), as appropriate.FAR 61.110 Night flying exceptions
Basically this exempts 3 different categories of aircraft from being required to do night training for the private pilots certificate.
- FAR 61.109(d)(2) applies to gyroplane’s
- FAR 61.109(i)(2) applies to powered parachute’s
- FAR 61.109(j)(2) applies to weight-shift-control aircraft
“NIGHT FLYING PROHIBITED” would be on the back of your card, but you would not be required to do the training within 12 months as in the case with Alaska pilots. You would be able to get this limitation removed the same way as the Alaska pilots get the limitation removed from the back of their private pilots certificates.