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EASA requires pilots to log separately night time and night landings in the personal logbook. Now, I'm not sure in which period of time a landing is a night landing and flight time is night flight time. I would appreciate your answer, maybe also with a trustworthy source.

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According to this handy document from EASA, night is defined as:

…the period between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, or such other period between sunset and sunrise as may be prescribed by the appropriate authority, as defined by the Member State.

(The FAA and ICAO use a similar definition.)


You can get the Civil Twilight times from a convenient astronomical calendar, but ignoring the specifics, the same rule of thumb the FAA uses for purposes of night currency will likely work for you too:

  • Night starts one hour after sunset
    (Sunset being when the last of the visible sun disc drops below the horizon.)
  • Night ends one hour before sunrise
    (Sunrise being when the first of the visible sun disk breaks the horizon.)

This actually cheats you out of a few minutes of "night" on either side of the calculation, but it's conservative guidance if you're conservative in what you log you won't accidentally mess up and give yourself more night time than you're really entitled too (i.e. you won't make yourself "night current" when you really aren't).


Note that I'm a US pilot -- since all my flying and training is based on FAA regs in the US if I'm completely off the mark and any European pilots or CFIs want to set me right it would be much appreciated :-)

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know about the rest of Europe, but at least Germany defines night as sunset+30 minutes to sunrise-30 minutes, so not a full hour. $\endgroup$ – falstro Jan 7 '14 at 7:24
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    $\begingroup$ @roe In that's probably about what "Civil Twilight" works out to be (the length of Civil Twilight varies a bit by location and season, but 30-40 minutes either side of the sun seems about right for most of Germany) $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jan 7 '14 at 7:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I guess I was referring to the "... or such other period between sunset and sunrise as may be prescribed by the appropriate authority" part. An interesting side note, I'm not 100% sure of this, but I think they also redefine sunset/sunrise for the entire country to be at the latitude of the city Kassel (longitude still matters though). It works out to a couple of minutes at most, but still wonky. $\endgroup$ – falstro Jan 7 '14 at 8:02
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    $\begingroup$ And for those who, like me, didn't know what civil twilight is and had to look it up, it's when the center of the sun is below the horizon, but no further than 6 degrees. So depending on where (latitude) you are, the duration will be different. $\endgroup$ – falstro Jan 7 '14 at 8:05
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    $\begingroup$ Civil twilight is defined in astronomy as the two periods of day in the morning and in the evening when the Sun's top is between 0 and -6 degrees below the horizon. This can vary between something like 30 minutes and an hour at 45 latitude (I'm not sure about the exact numbers). The term "night" used here therefore corresponds to the "civil night". The "astronomical night" is defined in the same way, but the value is -18 rather than -6. It means that for example in Oulu summertime, nothing counts as night :) (Oh I see that this is what @falstro says, I just add more details). $\endgroup$ – yo' Jan 28 '15 at 12:58
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CAP393 UK In paragraph (5) confirms "night time" as 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

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    $\begingroup$ As another comment to a similar answer already says, there are a number of definitions of sunset/sunrise, but your answer doesn't specify which. $\endgroup$ – Federico Mar 7 '18 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ Sunset is defined as the point where the upper limb of the sun drops below the horizon and is a defined astronomical term. The other answers refer to civil twilight, not sunset. There should not be any confusion between sunset & the various forms of twilight. $\endgroup$ – Nick McCloud Jan 28 at 17:20
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For europe the night is defined in the standardized european rules of the air (SERA, VO(EU) 923-2012) in the following way:

‘night’ means the hours between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight. Civil twilight ends in the evening when the centre of the sun’s disc is 6 degrees below the horizon and begins in the morning when the centre of the sun’s disc is 6 degrees below the horizon

You will find the latest version of SERA here:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/homepage.html

SERA definition is consistent with ICAO definition found in Annex 6 Part I:

Night. The hours between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight or such other period between sunset and sunrise, as may be prescribed by the appropriate authority. Note.— Civil twilight ends in the evening when the centre of the sun’s disc is 6 degrees below the horizon and begins in the morning when the centre of the sun’s disc is 6 degrees below the horizon.

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CAP393 UK In paragraph (5) ‘day’ means the time from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset (both times exclusive), sunset and sunrise being determined at surface level.

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    $\begingroup$ there are a number of definitions of sunset/sunrise, but your answer doesn't specify which. $\endgroup$ – rbp Jan 28 '15 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ "being determined at surface level" seems to add some specificity, but there are no other astronomical definitions of sunset, just three sorts of twilight ... $\endgroup$ – Nick McCloud Jan 28 at 17:22

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