I asked a related question: How hard is it to fly with night vision goggles?

It appears from the answers so far that there are differing opinions, and I guess it might depend on the quality/age/capability of the equipment.

If someone was flying non-commercially (Part 91), Private Pilot (or higher) and it was VFR flight, if the pilot owned a pair of The ANVIS 9, Aviator Night Vision Goggles, Model M949, for example, could they legally fly around with them in their own airplane at night (and be acting as Pilot-In-Command)?

(Assume that they are a safe, prudent aviator, and took efforts to properly train themselves on the equipment and flew with a safety pilot until they were comfortable in the air with the equipment).

Would it be any different if they were flying IFR (appropriately-rated and on an instrument flight plan)?


2 Answers 2


Theoretically? Yes. In practice? Maybe.

The FARs provide for civilian operations under NVGs, but the story is a bit more complicated.

NVG operations requirements for pilots are covered in 61.31(k) for obtaining an endorsement and 61.57(f) for currency. Reading over the wording, the FAA appears to take the same general approach that they do with tailwheels: i.e. get trained and endorsed and then stay current.

The problem is with the aircraft rather, as 91.205(h) requires, in addition to day and night VFR equipment, a gyroscopic pitch and bank indicator (not typically an issue), a generator or alternator as per IFR reqs (again, not generally an issue), interior and exterior lighting appropriate for NVG ops (may be an issue), and a radar altimeter (definitely an issue in almost all light, and some not-so-light, aircraft).

Not sure about the goggles themselves, maybe there's a TSO out there giving tech specifications for aviation-specific NVGs?


Flying with NVG is quite different from normal flying.

With NVG on, your field of vision is very limited. It is about 40º wide instead of over 180º. This needs training to get used to.

You get the feeling that with NVG, you can see everything without limits, whereas in reality, the level of detail you see at night with NVG is more close to legal blindness if that was your quality of vision during the day. There are also several phenomenon that if you are not trained to recognise, you might fly into a hill that you didn't think was there, because it was not clearly visible due to a larger hill behind it (lack of contrast between the two objects in the field of view) or an object in the shadow of a hill or mountain. High tension wires, trees that don't have leaves, etc.

When you have two used toilet-rolls available, stick them together to make make-shift binoculars, put them on your head like an NVG (try to block your peripheral vision past the tubes to prevent cheating) and try to walk through familiar territory (like where you live) and see how well you do. Then, if you are bold enough to do that, try to cycle like that. I would not recommend you do this while driving unless it is in an empty parking lot and you are trying to avoid pylons or some other soft non-living obstacle. Once you get the idea, imagine doing that at night while presented with much lower quality imagery.

I have no knowledge of the legality of civilian NVG operations


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