UK Civil Aviation Authority To Allow Pilots To Fly VFR At Night


  Bookmark and Share

UK Civil Aviation Authority To Allow Pilots To Fly VFR At Night

By Jim Douglas

May 11, 2012 - The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced a change to night flying regulations which will allow aircraft to operate under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in the hours of darkness beginning June 8, 2012.  

Current UK regulations require any flight at night to be conducted in accordance with the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). According to Rule 20(2) of the Rules of the Air Regulations 2007, aircraft flying at night in the UK must do so in accordance with the IFR unless flying in a Control Zone on a Special VFR flight.  

However, due to the introduction of European Regulations, principally the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Aircrew Regulation which includes Flight Crew Licensing (Part-FCL) and the Standardized European Rules of the Air (Part-SERA).  

After due consideration of the consequences of these rule changes and possible ways forward, the CAA has concluded that the preferred option is, subject to specific conditions, to allow aircraft to fly in accordance with VFR at night in the UK, allowing pilots to decide whether to fly VFR or IFR. 

The CAA considers that to do nothing is not a viable option because of the resulting withdrawal of night flying privileges from pilots who hold a Night Rating but not an IR. It is also undesirable to implement the Regulations in a manner which is inconsistent with the rest of Europe. 

Visual Flight Rules are an internationally agreed standard set of operating rules designed to help prevent collisions between aircraft and the ground by ensuring that pilots fly in weather conditions that enable them to see a potential collision and take action to avoid it.  

Instrument Flight Rules are a more restrictive set of internationally agreed operating rules which include additional measures to help prevent collisions between aircraft particularly when flying in weather conditions where pilots may not be able to see other aircraft or obstacles (such as in cloud or poor visibility) and in areas with high volumes of traffic.


The changes are being made to take into account new and emerging European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations for pilot licensing and rules of the air. The CAA said that the change will be an improvement on the current night IFR requirements which are unique to the UK and not fully understood by all pilots, especially those visiting from overseas.  

The CAA said that most of the requirements for VFR at night are similar to the existing Instrument Flight Rules, so UK pilots will be able to continue flying at night as normal provided they hold a valid Night Rating or Qualification. Pilots who hold an Instrument Rating or IMC Rating will continue to have the choice of flying IFR at night.  

Visual Flight Rules at Night - The Civil Aviation Authority intends to issue a General Exemption to enable flight under the Visual Flight Rules at night subject to the following conditions being met:

a) The visibility and distance from cloud minima as specified in Rule 27 and 28 shall apply except that:

i) The cloud ceiling shall not be less than 1,500 ft.;

ii) Except as specified in (1)(a)(iii), the provisions specified in Rule 28 (4) and (5) shall not apply; and

iii) for helicopters in airspace classes F and G at and below 3,000 ft. above mean sea level or 1,000 ft. above terrain, whichever is the higher, flight visibility shall not be less than 3 km, provided that the pilot maintains continuous sight of the surface and the helicopter is maneuvered at a speed that will give adequate opportunity to observe other traffic or obstacles in time to avoid collision; 


b) except when necessary for take-off or landing, or unless in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA, an aircraft flying in accordance with the Visual Flight Rules at night shall not fly at a height of less than 1,000 ft. above the highest obstacle within a distance of 5 NM of the aircraft; and 

c) The cruising levels in Rule 34 shall apply.

Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)


blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ?AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator