Here’s the question Paul just sent me:
Special VFR at night requires, amongst other things, that the pilot be IFR-rated. But it strikes me that there is no requirement for the pilot to be IFR-current – is that true? Seems dangerous to me.
Well, Paul (great name by the way). I agree with you that it would be VERY dangerous for any pilot who is not IFR current to operate under Special VFR at night. Fortunatetly, I believe that the regulations do require that recent instrument flight experience be met as per 61.57. Let’s look at the two requirements for Special VFR at night.
According to 14 CFR 91.157 Special VFR operations at night (in airplanes) requires that “The person being granted the ATC clearance meets the applicable requirements for instrument flight under part 61 of this chapter.”
So let’s look at the instrument flight requirements under part 61 which, in summary says that in order to act as PIC of an aircraft on an instrument flight plan you must:
a) Hold an appropriate instrument rating on your pilot certificate and
b) Meet the recent instrument experience requirements of 61.57(c) (6 approaches, intercepting and tracking)
The aircraft must be equipped for instrument flight as required by 91.205(d)
Again, this is just my interpretation, but I do think that 91.157 is requiring that a pilot who receives an ATC clearance for Special VFR at night be fully IFR rated, equipped and current. The reason being of course is that there is a greater chance at night of a Special VFR clearance turning into a full blown IFR flight plan. If the FAA did not require the pilot to be instrument current, than they would have no provision for enforcement action when a pilot illegally operated on a IFR flight plan.
I hope this helps answer your question. Thanks again for asking and always…