The FARs require “10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop” at night for private applicants, and 10 takeoffs and landings at an airport with a control tower at night for commercial applicants. No other requirements for landings are found. In the interest of scenario-based training and safety, all of my students “lose” their landing light for 2 night takeoffs and landings. The goal here is not just to make sure you can safely land when the light fails, but this lesson forces students to demonstrate aeronautical decision making.
When might you need to land without the light:
What you learn:
I meet high time pilots from all certificate levels that have never landed without landing lights. My private instructor trained me how to deal with the situation. As a 135 pilot I had to land without lights and a full load of passengers. On Beechjets, landing lights extend outward from the nose when the gear is extended (see below). One night with one light burned out and deferred per the MEL, the motor on the other side failed to extend. The captain had never landed without lights, luckily I had. I used my private training from 15 years earlier to brief him on the above lessons and how I was going to land.
This is also a good lesson in crew resource management. In this abnormal operation, the pilot with the most appropriate experience for the situation, the FO, performed the landing.
If you have never had your landing light “fail” use this as an excuse to grab an instructor and go for a ride.
Next time: "Blinded by the Light"
We all know flyinat 1,000 AGL in a piston driven single is a bad place when the engine fails. All pilots should be able to lose the engine in the traffic pattern, and safely land at the airport. This may mean landing on a less favorable runway or adjusting the traffic pattern to ensure a safe landing on the favorable runway.
The power-off 180 is a great training task to demonstrate good judgment and aircraft control in a pattern engine out scenario. It is required by the commercial ACS for ASEL and ASES applicants, and I require all private students do one or two prior to solo as part of simulated emergency landings. It is a practical application for engine failures low to the ground, specifically the pattern.
In short, the task requires the pilot to pull power to idle abeam the landing point, pitch for Vg or 1.4x Vso, and adjust the base and final turns (180o) to allow the aircraft to glide from pattern altitude to the landing point without adding power. Add flaps when landing is assured.
This maneuver helps demonstrate your mastery of the aircraft, and helps ensure you are ready if you lose your engine in the pattern. They are also fun, especially when you are flying something that sinks like a rock when you pull the power to idle. Ask to do one on your next flight review as part of the engine failure regime, or grab a CFI and go for a ride.
Next time: Night landings without landing lights