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Night Flight - What's Wrong With It?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by kptw_pilot, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. kptw_pilot

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    So I have heard rumors about how the FAA may prohibit our drones from flying at night some day, but why? I've had several night flights with my P3S and it's no more dangerous at night than in the day. In fact, night flight may be arguably safer. The lights on the quad shine bright, you can see it from farther away, and there's usually less wind to fight. Is anyone actually against night flight? I just don't see any safety issues whatsoever with flying our quads at night...


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    kirk2579 likes this.
  2. msinger

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    The FAA would most likely see this as being reckless. You can see their suggested guidelines here. Fly safe :)
     
  3. kptw_pilot

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    I've read those guidelines throughly several times before. I really just don't understand how flying at night can be remotely considered "reckless."
     
  4. msinger

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    They want you to fly with VLOS. If it's dark out, you cannot see your Phantom (other than the lights).

    Here's a section from my approved 333 exemption:

    "UAS operations may not be conducted during night, as defined in 14 CFR § 1.1. All operations must be conducted under visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Flights under special visual flight rules (SVFR) are not authorized."

    A 333 exemption does not apply to hobbyist, but I just wanted to give you a better idea of what the FAA thinks is safe. You could certainly contact them if you have any doubts. I'm sure they'd be happy to answer any questions.
     
  5. kptw_pilot

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    Thanks, definitely gives me an idea why, but I definitely disagree with their rule considering that the lights are directly connected to the Phantom. In aviation we can fly VFR with no problems because we can safely see and avoid other aircraft... Or can we, because we just see their lights?! Load of BS but thanks again for your answer.
     
  6. kirk2579

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    DJI Forum|Editing night shot

    tips from dji on night video edits
     
  7. RoyVa

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    Night flying you can see the lights of the drone but a lot of objects in the dark don't show up such as high tension power lines and tall trees and such. You can see lights on cell towers and other marked objects but using VLOS you perspective and distance calculation are way off so it's easy to run into objects. What you can't see you can hit. Sorry but that is just the way it is. That's why some small aircraft pilots can't fly at night, they are not instrument rated and our Phantoms don't have those safety features either.
    The danger factor is increased tremendously by flying at night.
    Good luck either way!
     
  8. Mark The Droner

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    In addition, our Phantoms are invisible to manned aircraft at night. There are no lights on top of our crafts.
     
  9. kptw_pilot

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    Well if you know the area well enough, you should already know what obstacles you have to avoid, and you should fly accordingly. Plus, after a few minutes spent outside, your eyes adjust to the point where you see all you need to see. As long as you keep the quad in VLOS. There really isn't any obstacles over 75 ft. where I fly, but when I takeoff and land, I do the same kind of thing that the RTH does, and I always go up to 400 ft.
    Also, I am a student pilot, and I have flown at night on two flights now. Night flight is VFR, unless visibility and ceilings are ridiculously low. You do not have to be IFR rated to fly at night!
    As long as you know your area well (only my backyard for me) I believe the risk of running into anything is no more than it is during the day.
     
  10. kptw_pilot

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    As long as you follow the below 400' AGL and fly more than 5 miles away from an airport, you really shouldn't have worry about manned aircraft. In fact, there are much less planes flying at night than during the day. Even during the day, you'd have to be feet away from a plane for them to even spot the Phantom because they're so small. Pilots really can't see and avoid quads because they wouldn't have enough time to react.
     
  11. Mark The Droner

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    I agree 100%. I'm a fan of night flying! But look at it through the FAA's eyes and consider their mission statement:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. kptw_pilot

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    Very true!
     
  13. msinger

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    This really depends on where you're flying. If it's a wide open field with absolutely no obstacles, then, sure, flying at night would be doable. There are trees everywhere around my house (I live on a mountain) and I'd no doubt be in one of them if I attempted to fly at night. I cannot see them in the dark -- even after my eyes adjust.
     
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  14. Formstone

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    This would be where some type of temporary flight allowance would be nice. Theory being that IF;

    You had a daytime visual preset safe flight prior.
    You submitted it to the FAA prior to flight.
    You then flew the exact same safe flight plan.

    This IMHO would be reasonable and allow folks to take pictures and fly at night.

    ...but something logical is beyond most bureaucrats.
     
  15. barefootbeachcombing

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    This, I believe, is the main reason.
     
  16. Formstone

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    That is probably the main reason and one that can be addressed.

    An upper and lower strobe kit for a Phantom has been on the back of my mind while I have been up the mast a few times in the past week adding new running and spreader lights.

    Something like this maybe?

    http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Bike-B...F8&qid=1451570082&sr=8-2&keywords=bike+strobe
     
  17. msinger

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    My Inspire 1 has a blinking light on top -- and, the FAA still won't let me fly it at night.
     
  18. barefootbeachcombing

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    Not really the "lack of lights" but the fact that they really are difficult to be seen by manned aircraft (even with lights).
     
    #18 barefootbeachcombing, Dec 31, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
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  19. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    While I love LOVE night flying anyone who thinks that night flight is just as safe as daylight flying is completely missing the boat. If you were to fly at some place other than your home field/yard how in the world would you know where the power lines, power poles, distant trees etc be? Even on the clearest and brightest of nights those things are still masked in darkness unless you get a lucky "reflection" from bright moon light.

    Even though there are fewer GA aircraft at night that doesn't mean there are none and you have to always.... I mean always assume the worst case and be prepared for it. Since you're a student pilot I would think you'd be a little more "in tune" to the dangers of a GA to drone impact especially if you are flying one of the smaller planes like C172 or something.

    And comparing night GA flight to night UAS flight is really apples to oranges. GA isn't scud running down at tree and power-line level.

    Finally you have to realize that even if you only fly in your very own backyard you are by far the exception (part of the beauty of MR is being able to fly almost anywhere instead of just a single field/yard) and the rules have to account for the majority of operators as much as is possible. Maybe IF the FAA gets their way and is able to BAN night flights there will be a way to obtain some form of waiver for people who only fly in their yard and can agree to not bust 400'AGL regardless.

    I've got a night UAS flight scheduled in just 2 days and the preparation is mind boggling and the pucker factor is a 12 on a scale 1 - 10.

    Bottom line is for "hobby" flights the no night flights is just a strong suggestion so you're good to go just fly safe and below 400'AGL. I "believe" the new registration might have some provision for restricting night flights but I haven't read through it myself to say for sure one way or the other.
     
  20. Formstone

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    I think what is missing is that while it is possible to make UAS flights at night safe and legal, the FAA has no motivation. The AMA has or shows no interest in this either.

    Now say if DJI were to lobby a night program and other efforts, that is possible. I know as much as I loathe going into the backfilled swamp, I would spend some time to help lobby solid programs.
     
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