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9 Answers

Night Currency with Safety Pilot

Asked by: 2758 views FAA Regulations

I was planning on meeting a pilot friend of mine one evening this week and doing some approaches for IFR currency.  We usually meet once or twice a month and do 3-4 approaches each.  However, I just realized that I'm not night current. If we meet after dark and my buddy is acting as a safety pilot and PIC, can I log 3 approaches to a full stop with him in the plane (logging IFR and night currency) or do I need to get night current (3 landings to a full stop) prior to having him be a safety pilot.  He is currently night current.

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9 Answers

  1. Mark Kolber on Mar 01, 2013

    Yes. So long as your buddy is capable of and actually acting as PIC for the flight (including being night current himself), he may allow you to perform takeoffs and landings as the “sole manipulator of the flight controls.” If you look at 61.57(b), you’ll see that being the sole manipulator is the only requirement for logging landings for currency in the category and class of aircraft.

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  2. Bob Watson on Mar 01, 2013

    So, if I read this correctly, you plan to do instrument approaches to a full stop landing at night while under the hood? Is it just me or does that sound just a little crazy? Once you take your hood off (assuming you’re not practicing zero-zero landings at night) you no longer need a safety pilot and you buddy becomes just a passenger, who can’t be flying with you at night if you’re not night current.

    Couldn’t you just go up solo and do three stop and gos and then go flying with your friend? That would just take another 15-20 minutes and you wouldn’t have to do zero-zero night landings.

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  3. Matt Williams on Mar 01, 2013

    Was the question really that ambiguous? No, I don’t plan on doing zero-zero night landings. Simply headed up at night, will be under the hood for the approach (not for takeoff or landings), taking the hood off at minimums and putting it on around 400ft agl. Standard stuff. Of course I could go up solo and get current, but I dont need to “askacfi” that.

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  4. Kris Kortokrax on Mar 01, 2013


    According to your question, your buddy is night current. Assuming he also has a medical and flight review, he is qualified to act as PIC for the flight. There only needs to be one PIC aboard. He meets it.

    You may fly approaches and landings as sole manipulator and log them. No problem.

    To take it a step further, if one of you is a CFI, then neither needs to be night current. See the legal interpretation the FAA gave me in 2006.


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  5. Matt Williams on Mar 01, 2013

    Thanks Mark & Kris. In the log, would I only log PIC time when I’m under the hood? Then just total time for the takeoffs and landings. E.g. If I’m under the hood for an hour and the flight lasts 1.3. My buddy would log 1.3 as PIC and I’d log 1.0 PIC and 1.3 TT?

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  6. Kris Kortokrax on Mar 01, 2013

    It depends upon whether you are sole manipulator or acting as safety pilot. See 61.51 (e).

    If you are sole manipulator, you may log all that time.

    If you are acting as safety pilot, you may only log the time while your buddy is under the hood.

    For your scenario, both pilots may not log 1.3, unless one is an instructor.

    If you are talking in the context of your original question (you are not current, but your buddy is), you can log only time while you are sole manipulator. Your buddy can log PIC only while you are under the hood (or while he is sole manipulator, if you are no longer under the hood).

    If you are under the hood for an hour you can log 1.0 PIC (manipulating) and 1.0 TT (if you stop manipulating after you take off the hood), 1.3 PIC and 1.3 TT (if you manipulate for the entire flight and your buddy does nothing, but ride along for the entire flight).

    If you manipulate for the entire flight, your non-CFI buddy could log only 1.0 PIC and 1.0 TT. If you manipulate only while under the hood, your buddy could log 1.3 PIC and 1.3 TT.

    As others have said, you can really log anything you want, however, you can only count certain things toward a certificate, rating or currency requirements.

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  7. Mark Kolber on Mar 01, 2013

    To shorten Kris’ logging explanation a bit:

    Let’s refer to the two pilots as the “flying pilot” (FP) and the “non-flying safety pilot” (NFSP). I am also limiting it to your original scenario that the NFSP is the acting pilot in command but the FP is doing all of the hands-on flying.

    The FP may log PIC all of the time he is the sole manipulator of the controls – basic 61.51(e)(1)(i).

    The NFSP may log PIC all of the time the FP is under the hood. 61.51(e)(1)(ii) in combination with 91.109(c).

    That’s true even though, for some period, both are authorized to log PIC time.

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  8. Mark Kolber on Mar 01, 2013


    >>who can’t be flying with you at night if you’re not night current.<<

    That may be the part where you're making a common error. "Logging" not be equal to "acting" works in both directions. Being the "sole manipulator" does not make one the pilot in command; just authorizes a pilot to log it that way.

    Landing currency is required of the pilot =acting= as pilot in command with a passenger. Matt's scenario specifically says that his night-current buddy is the one acting in that capacity.

    Technically, in Matt's scenario, Matt is a passenger whom his PIC-buddy is allowing to fly the airplane. The buddy's not flying with Matt; Matt is flying with the buddy.

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  9. Matt Williams on Mar 01, 2013

    Thanks for the clarification everyone. I was concerned that if I was not night current and then I have 3 landings at night and simulated instrument time with a notation of the safety pilot’s name, that a DPE might catch that later. I’ll be taking a commercial checkride here soon and didn’t want any red flags or indication that I might have inadvertently violated any regs. I’ll probably just knock out my night currency prior taking a safety pilot to be safe, just in case the examiner doesn’t have the same interpretation.

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