Night flight qualifications for helicopter pilots
The Capitale Hélicoptère flight school offers night flight qualifications for helicopter pilots
In addition to professional and private pilot training, the Capitale Hélicoptère flight school also offers certification for various types of helicopters, flight instructor qualifications well as training for night flights.
Standard private and professional licenses restrict pilots to “day flights only”. To fly at night, from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, pilots are required to obtain night flight certification (RAC 421.42) in accordance with VFR or Visual flight Rules. To fly in compliance with VFR, certain weather conditions must also be respected as well as flight visibility and cloud distance.
Night flight qualifications allows the removal of the “day flights only” restriction on the licence.
Night flight qualifications require a minimum of 20 hours of practical instruction divided as follows:
• Five hours of dual flight with a two hour flight time
• Five hours of solo flight including ten takeoffs, ten loops and ten landings
• A minimum of ten hours of instrument flying time in dual flight
Once the training is complete, the pilot must successfully pass qualifications under the supervision of a Transport Canada Inspector or a qualified flight instructor to obtain their certification.
Night flight training at the Capitale Hélicoptère flight school
The Capitale Hélicoptère flight school has three instructors who are qualified to give night flight training on RH22, RH44, EC30 and EC20 models—Gilbert Moisan, Maxence Besson and Frédéric Ali.
In general, it takes between two weeks to a month for pilots to obtain their night flight qualification. Some delays may be possible due to weather conditions as conditions must be favourable to fly in accordance with VFR.
Learning to pilot a helicopter during the day is not easy; training to fly at night is an additional challenge. When asked about this, Frédéric Ali, Head Instructor at the Capitale Hélicoptère flight school, pointed out that the biggest challenge faced by a pilot when learning to fly at night is “facing the limitations inherent to being human. In other words, the challenges of night flight include a lack of visual references, optical illusions and a loss of reference for balance as well as the challenges imposed by estimating speed, altitude and height.”
Addendum VFR VS IFR
The VFR qualification (Visual Flight Rules) allow for night flight when visibility and weather conditions are favourable. IFR qualification (Instrument Flight Rules) allows pilots to fly when the weather conditions are poor; which is called “Instrumental meteorological conditions or IMC”. The IFR qualification is a certification to be added to the pilot’s license.
Night flight using night vision goggles
Pilots who have obtained their Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (required to fly at might in any type of commercial capacity) may also fly with night vision goggles if they have received the minimum training requirements stipulated by Transport Canada.
To use night vision goggles, companies are required to obtain the permission of Transport Canada and they must ensure that all the required training has been acquired by their pilots. Airmedic for example, obtained its operating certificate authorizing them to fly using night vision goggles to conduct rescue mission after nightfall. (Airmedic uses Anvis 9 night vision goggles.) Airmedic is also able to train its pilots in the use of night vision goggles as the company has qualified instructors available to provide this type of training. In contrast to VFR and IFR qualifications, the use of night vision goggles is not added to the pilot’s license as it only requires experience.