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To frame the question more specifically, at KCSV the ILS Z 26 approach is NOTAMed “NA at night”. So is it legal to fly the approach VFR for training purposes to satisfy aeronautical experience requirements toward an instrument rating?

Or is the approach not authorized for flying under any conditions at night?

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  • $\begingroup$ If you are flying VFR, can't you pretty much do whatever you want, so long as you don't violate any FARs? $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2023 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ That’s my thought as well, but I’ve been told by two other instructors that you can’t do it. I just can’t tell if there’s a real FAR reason behind that or if that’s just speculation or caution as it obviously is more dangerous as there are probably higher obstacles preventing the procedure from being used at night. $\endgroup$
    – RattMuscle
    Mar 20, 2023 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ Oops, the VOR-A is the only approach at that airport that isn't NOTAMed NA at night, but it is NOTAMed "Procedure NA". So I fixed the question to be about ILS Z 26 so the question makes sense now. Though honestly the same question could apply to "Procedure NA". $\endgroup$
    – RattMuscle
    Mar 21, 2023 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer You could probably fly it VFR (though it would be a bad idea), but counting it as a practice approach probably not. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Mar 21, 2023 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ The latest NOTAMs for KCSV indicate RWY 26 PAPI UNUSABLE until 10/08/2023, so that's probably why you shouldn't shoot VFR approaches at night. notams.aim.faa.gov/notamSearch/… $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 2, 2023 at 17:26

3 Answers 3

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The IAP in question only takes place in class E and G airspace. So you can definitely "do" it in VFR, and you don't even have to talk to anybody.

Unless you know for a fact why it is not allowed at night and know that it doesn't apply to VFR flight for some reason, I would consider this to be reckless behavior. I expect if there were any issues the FAA would throw the book at you under 91.13. Assuming you survive the CFIT, anyway.

I could see an argument either way whether it would be legal to log this as an approach. I'm leaning towards "no," with the argument that a "not allowed" approach is essentially the same as no approach existing, from a legal standpoint.

But even if it is legal, you're putting evidence of having done something reckless in your logbook, which seems less than wise. (Not as unwise as doing the approach in the first place, mind you).

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Legally yes, operating under VFR, it is possible to do this. That being said, I would seriously think twice about doing so as there is a reason approaches are not authorized under certain conditions, mainly terrain hazards, and other risks, which would not be readily identifiable at night. Ignoring this advice has killed people, such as this tragic Learjet crash out in El Cajon, California, on December 27, 2021. The approach plate is listed below.

enter image description here

Note that circling to land on runway 27 right, and runway 35 is not authorized night. To get around this constraint, the Learjet pilot canceled IFR flight and went VFR, so he could attempt a circling maneuver to land. San Diego has a lot of mountainous terrain to the north and east of the airfield. This in combination with marginal weather conditions at the time of landing, as well as poor management of airspeed during maneuvering led to a fatal accident. There’s often very good reason why, when the area is surveyed by the FAA in the creation of that instrument approach, they did not authorize a circle to land or is other procedure during an approach.

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IMHO, VFR flying is not actually possible at "night" which is defined in FAR 91 as 1 hour after sunset till one hour before sunrise. ((FAR 91 1.1.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.) BUT, FAR/AIM 91.155 Basic VFR weather minimums. 155/b.(b) Class G Airspace. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section, the following operations may be conducted in Class G airspace below 1,200 feet above the surface: (1) ... (2) Airplane, .. If the visibility is less than 3 statute miles but not less than 1 statute mile during night hours and you are operating in an airport traffic pattern within 1/2 mile of the runway, you may operate an airplane, .. clear of clouds. It seems that your answer is in FAR/AIM155/b. if VOR not available, and its darker night, I will treat the airfield as non-towered and remember to signal on CTAF traffic band for PCL to turn on the lights 3, 5 or 7 clicks on mike. If it's towered, I'll state my intentions and keep on the pattern for touch and go's as long as ATC allows it.

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    $\begingroup$ VFR flying is not actually possible at "night" -- well, the alternative is to file an IFR flightplan for every night flight. Opinion notwithstanding, I'm pretty sure that VFR at night is a very, very real thing in the U.S., which the question, tagged as FAA Regulations and referencing a Kxxx airport, is asking about. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Mar 20, 2023 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ Night VFR flights happen all the time in the US. $\endgroup$
    – RetiredATC
    May 26, 2023 at 17:25

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