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Assume you know when sunset was on a particular day you decided to fly (e.g. 8:30 local time). If you took off at 8pm, repeated 3+ landings in the pattern, then left the pattern for about half an hour, returned into the pattern at home airfield, did 3+ more landings to full stop at night...did you achieve the objective of landing currency for both day and night, and if so how do you normally log the landings?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! I'm assuming that you're asking about FAA regulations (please always tell us which country/regulations you're asking about). If so, then since night currency also meets the day currency requirements, why not just do the three night takeoffs and landings? $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jul 20 at 14:57
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As pilots we often talk about night flying and daytime flying meaning when it is dark or light, but for logging time and for currency in the US there are specific definitions that we must pay attention to.

FAR 1.1 General Definitions

Night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published by the American Air Almanac, converted to local time.

Day is not defined in the FARs but the definition of night implies that it is the time between the beginning of morning civil twilight and the end of evening civil twilight.

The Air Almanac is published annually on CD-ROM but you can find sunset, sunrise, and civil twilight times for specific locations at the US Naval Observatory website or in ForeFlight.

The time between sunrise/sunset and twilight is 26-30 minutes depending on the time of year. Since you can easily find sunrise/sunset information in newspapers, the weather channel, etc. you can estimate twilight fairly easily.

Currency

§61.57 (b) (1) … no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, unless within the preceding 90 days that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, and…

VFR Weather Minimums Only Class G airspace has different minimums depending on night and day and they use the standard night definition—end of evening twilight to the beginning of morning twilight.

Aircraft Lights Aircraft lighting is required between sunset and sunrise.

§91.209 During the period between sunset and sunrise no person may 1. operate an aircraft unless it has lighted position lights, 2. park or move an aircraft in an area of an airport where night operations are being conducted unless it is clearly illuminated, has position lights, or is in an area marked by obstruction lights.

Aeronautical Experience Requirement In order to obtain a private pilot certificate night training is required. The commercial pilot certificate required solo night flights. In these cases the standard night definition—end of evening twilight to the beginning of morning twilight—applies.

Special VFR AIM 4-4-6 g. Special VFR operations are prohibited between sunset and sunrise unless the pilot is instrument rated and the aircraft equipped for IFR flight.

Logging Night Flying Time Logging of night flight should be made in accordance with Part 1 definitions, which is from the end of evening civil twilight to the start of morning civil twilight. This differs from the definition used for night currency.

Summary

• Position lights – sunset to sunrise

• Special VFR – except sunset to sunrise unless instrument rated

• Carry Passengers – 1 hour after sunset to 1 hour before sunrise

• Everything else – evening twilight to morning twilight

The answer to your question.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can look at the requirements for carrying passengers.

§61.57 Recent flight experience: Pilot in command. (a) General experience. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, no person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers or of an aircraft certificated for more than one pilot flight crewmember unless that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings within the preceding 90 days, and—

(i) The person acted as the sole manipulator of the flight controls; and

(ii) The required takeoffs and landings were performed in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type (if a type rating is required), and, if the aircraft to be flown is an airplane with a tailwheel, the takeoffs and landings must have been made to a full stop in an airplane with a tailwheel.

(2) For the purpose of meeting the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft under day VFR or day IFR, provided no persons or property are carried on board the aircraft, other than those necessary for the conduct of the flight.

You can remain current for carrying passengers in the daytime by making three takeofffs and landins either with or without passengers. If you are not current, you may regain currency as long as you don’t have passengers.

A separate regulation governs night currency—where night is 1 hour after sunset until 1 hour before sunrise.

§61.57 Recent flight experience: Pilot in command.** b) Night takeoff and landing experience. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, unless within the preceding 90 days that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, and—

If you are night current then you have satisfied §61.57 (1) and so you are also day current.

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Notwithstanding the fact that legal night starts 1 hour after the 8:30 sunset per FAR 61.57(b),

(b) Night takeoff and landing experience. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, unless within the preceding 90 days that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, and—

say you split your flying between some landings before 9:30 pm and some after, sufficient to meet the requirement.

It's simple. The time you were airborne prior to 9:30 goes in the "Day" column, and the time you were airborne after 9:30 goes in the "Night" column. In "Remarks" you write in something like "3 day landings and 4 night landings completed".

That's all you need to do.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is landing currency, and there is night landing currency, but I don't think there is "day landing currency." So if you get 3 landings (also 3 takeoffs) at night, everything else is superfluous, yes? $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jul 20 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ I thought about that, but the FAR linked specifically mentions "day VFR" for day currency, so I'm not sure that just doing the night landings covers everything, although common sense says it should. They seem to have written it in a way that requires a lawyer to parse the language, as usual lol. $\endgroup$ – John K Jul 20 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ To update currency (i.e. you're still current, just setting a new date), I think 3 at night & you're complete. However, to regain currency without somebody else acting as PIC (i.e. a CFI), I'd agree that your first 3 have to be day, given the (a)(2) language. Or... that language lets the noncurrent left-seater regain currency with a required SIC in the right seat, day only. Agree that it's murky. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jul 20 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnK Night for logging time starts about 1/2 hour after sunset and ends about 1/2 hour before sunrise. CFR §1.1 General definitions. Night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the Air Almanac, converted to local time. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Jul 21 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ @JScarry I was going to say that originally until I looked up FAR 61. Why does it say 1 hour? $\endgroup$ – John K Jul 21 at 4:01

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