A skill every aspiring pilot needs to have in their arsenal, a Night VFR or Night Visual Flight Rules Rating allows you to fly your aircraft at night, provided other favourable weather conditions are present. It gives you the freedom of not being limited by time when flying cross-country and taking your friends and family—or even a romantic partner—to see the beautiful city lights of Melbourne from the sky. It’s a sight not to be missed! Not only is flying at night exciting and thrilling, but having this skill also generally makes you a better pilot. Here’s a quick look at getting a Night VFR Rating on your pilot licence and what you should expect:
In order to successfully get a Night VFR rating, the pilot must:
- Hold a Private Pilot Licence at the minimum, but can also have a Commercial Pilot Licence or Air Transport Pilot Licence,
- Have at least 10 hours of night flight time training under a supervisor, either in an aircraft or in an approved flight simulator,
- Have at least 5 hours of dual cross-country night flight time training included in the above 10 hours,
- Have successfully cleared the Night VFR flight test.
Why Get a Night VFR Rating
Melbourne winter days are short, with the winter solstice this year clocking just 9 hours and 53 minutes of daylight. Having a Night VFR Rating gives you the flexibility to make longer trips, even when obstructed by the short daylight hours in the winter. You can start the day early before the sun rises and end it late without having to cut your trip short because the sun is about to set. To add to this, you could even end the day on a high by taking in the magnificent views of the city from a vantage point like no other.
Additionally, air traffic also tends to be lower in the nighttime, which means you will have a smoother, easier flight. And if you are flying on a night with a full moon, it will not be much different than flying in the day owing to all the light coming from the moon!
Finally, for pilots who aim to fly commercially, having a Night VFR rating and a significant amount of night command time is a necessity, as commercial pilots often need to fly at night. Many airlines looking for professional pilots require the pilot to have at least 100 hrs of flight time at night in order to even be considered for the position!
What to expect from Learn to Fly’s Night VFR Rating Course
- Enrolment and Orientation
When signing up for our Night VFR Rating Course, you will get a Training Starter Kit. This will contain all relevant course materials, detailed information on the processes of your course and access to shared online resources.
On the day of the orientation, you will be introduced to your instructor, taken around the airport and airspace and our facilities, and you will get a look into the processes Learn to Fly follows.
- Night VFR Ground School
Once you have successfully settled in, the first part of the course will include some ground training and instructions. These are typically conducted in the form of theory classes where you will learn of the fundamental concepts of a Night VFR Rating and what to expect during the actual night circuit training.
- Night VFR Flight Training
In this step of the course, you will learn different landing techniques, approaches and what to do in emergency situations. You will also familiarise yourself with common navigational aids, such as NDB (non-directional beacon) and VOR (Very high-frequency omnidirectional range) as well as the use of pilot activated light (PAL) and other runway lighting equipment.
- Night Solo Training
Once you have successfully mastered the last step, your instructor will determine if you are ready for your first solo night flight. The first solo flights will involve circuit flying, but once these have been mastered, you will then move on to navigation training. This form of training makes you a more independent pilot, as it involves planning and executing a number of navigational flights at night, helping you prepare for the next and final step.
- Night VFR Flight Test
Approximately 3 hours in duration, the Night VFR Flight Test is conducted in a CASA approved aircraft under the supervision of a CASA approved instructor. This test will include take-off and landing as well as navigation skill assessment and the correct use of navigational aids. Finally, the test will also assess some nighttime emergency procedures and how prepared you are to handle them. Once you successfully pass this test, you then get your Night VFR Rating. Congratulations!
Why Choose Learn to Fly
At Learn to Fly, all of our flight training courses, including the Night VFR Rating course, involve simulation training, allowing students to become familiar with the controls and behaviour patterns, procedures and systems of the aircraft they choose whilst still on the ground. We have a range of simulators including full cockpit synthetic trainers like the Alsim AL42, replicating the cockpit of our Diamond DA42 twin-engine aircraft.
Learn To Fly also offers an innovative training model, with the opportunity to continue learning online even while you are at home. We have state-of-the-art facilities at our Moorabbin Airport base in Melbourne, experienced instructors, and a range of aircraft to choose from.