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4 Answers

Getting Private Pilot Night Currency while Flying with Another Private Pilot

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FAA Regulations, General Aviation, Private Pilot

Can ASEL Private Pilot Night Currency be obtained while flying with another ASEL Private Pilot?

Given A : Non-CFI ASEL Private Pilot A is night current.
Given B : Non-CFI ASEL Private Pilot B is NOT night current.

1) Can Pilot A, more than 1 hour after sunset, act as PIC but never touch the controls and fly with Pilot B who will act as the single manipulator of the controls for an entire night flight including completion of three full stop night landings?

2) Is Pilot A just the PIC, required crew, a safety pilot, a passenger, or some combination of those, or something else entirely?

3) Can Pilot A log any or all of the flight time as PIC?

4) Can Pilot B log any or all of the flight time as PIC?

5) Can Pilot B use this flight to become night current?

6) Can Non-Instructor ASEL Private Pilot C ride along in the back seat?

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4 Answers



  1. Mark Kolber on Jun 28, 2016

    The answer to the base question is “yes.” If you look at the regulation itself, you will see the only thing it prohibits is acting as PIC with passengers. So long as the person acting as PIC is night current and willing to take PIC responsibility while the non-current pilot flies, no problem.

    And, let’s be sure to be aware of PIC 101 – “acting as” PIC is about qualification, authority and responsibility. That does not require operating the controls or anything else. The captain of a 747 does not cease being the captain when the first officer is doing the flying.

    Pilot A is “just the PIC.” He’s not a safety pilot unless and when the flying pilot is under the hood (the only Part 91 regulatory form of safety pilot).

    You can probably argue about whether or not he’s “required crew” in this scenario where Pilot B’s only disability is a lack of passenger-carrying currency. I’d say he’s not because Pilot B is perfectly free to go up himself, but, either way, it really doesn’t matter since, even if he was “required crew” (say Pilot B was also out of flight review currency)…

    The only one who would be able to log =anything= under 61.51 or 61.57 is the pilot who is the sole manipulator of the controls. That’s Pilot B in your scenario. And, of course, he would be able to become night current. Can you point to anything in the regs that say he wouldn’t?

    Back seat passenger? No problem. After all, you already said the pilot acting as PIC is night current for carrying passengers.

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  2. Kris Kortokrax on Jun 28, 2016

    61.57 merely requires that you be the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft of the same category/class as that for which you are establishing currency.

    There is no requirement that you be the PIC.

    1) Yes
    2) Pilot A must be the PIC since he is current. As such, he is indeed a required crew member. He is not a safety pilot nor a passenger.
    3 & 4) Per 61.51(e), one may only log PIC time for the time when he is sole manipulator.
    5) Yes
    6) Why not? Pilot A is night current and is the PIC. He can carry as many passengers as the plane will safely hold.

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  3. Kris Kortokrax on Jun 28, 2016

    Mark, it appears you typed faster than I did.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Jun 30, 2016

    Happens to all of us, Kris 😀

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