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Terrible situation. Your single engine on your general aviation aircraft fails. You are flying at night, no airports nearby enough to land at and patchy fog causing Instrument Meteorological conditions near ground level.

You pitch the plane for maximum glide, squawk the emergency 7700 code on the transponder, declare an emergency, and try desperately to see an opening in the fog for a field or road to attempt an emergency landing but can't see anything as it is pitch black and foggy. You follow the emergency procedure to try and get engine started. In order to not harm civilians on the ground who had no role to play in your mishap, you ask for vectors from ATC to a shallow body of water. ATC vectors you to a nearby small lake for you to ditch the plane.

Is there an FAA approved infrared night vision device that would have allowed me to see through the ground fog and locate a suitable landing site? If FAA approved model does not exist, what is the minimum sensitivity and resolution that would do the job?

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  • $\begingroup$ The recommended procedure is avoidance. Don't allow yourself to get into that situation of single engine night IFR over an area with ceilings that low. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Jul 10 '17 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ In light aircraft, the current trend is to use synthetic vision, not night vision gear (which is very expensive and requires special training). It's available in panel avionics and tablet apps. Apparently it's good enough to land an aircraft, at least on a runway. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jul 10 '17 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you care about FAA approval in this case? Anything that helps you get on the ground alive is fair game, and allowed according to CFR 91.3(b). As long as you aren't using it for normal flight ops, it's fine. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 10 '17 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ Does IR pass through clouds? $\endgroup$ – Steve Kuo Jul 10 '17 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ I've flown NVGs in a helicopter where they were mounted securely to our helmets. We'd mount them prior to flight because trying to mess with them, even in normal flight with the other pilot on the controls, was an act of futility. Keep in mind, we trained heavily with these, hundreds to thousands of hours a year, and knew better than to try and set them up in the blackness of night in-flight. My point is I suspect you would do yourself more harm than good if you were in a situation like that, high anxiety, high stress, complete darkness, with time running out. With all the fumbling around, you $\endgroup$ – BigNutz Jul 20 '17 at 2:10

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