Question about night VFR for the commercial hour requirements.

patiszerg

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For my CSEL checkride the DPE rejected one of my flights for the "night VFR conditions" time building requirement needed for the commercial checkride. The specific section cited is 61.129 (4) (ii) that reads "5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower". The reason it was invalided was because on a 3.6 total flight I had logged .5 actual instrument flight time in one of my solo night VFR cross-country flights to a towered airport. My chief pilot, my instructor and I all agreed that the remaining 3.1 should have counted for VFR conditions. I filed IFR for the flight because that was a personal minimum of mine at the time, No solo cross-country without filing IFR for safety reasons. The majority of the flight was VFR except about half an hour when I was climbing out of the airport and in cruise of which I couldn't see the horizon or anything outside. I was indeed flying by reference to the instruments alone and on an IFR flight plan, so the .5 is legal to log.

Thanks for reading this and I'd like to know what you think... especially if you're a DPE.
 
I’ve had the “VFR conditions” vs “IFR in VMC” discussion with my CFII, but it was in reference to something else. I wonder if this is how the DPE is reading it?

The pilot/controller glossary says:

VFR CONDITIONS- Weather conditions equal to or better than the minimum for flight under visual flight rules.
 
Just do the 5 hrs and ten landings,
My nearest towered airport was 50 min away, fulfilled that requirement in 3 flights
 
The reason it was invalided was because on a 3.6 total flight I had logged .5 actual instrument flight time in one of my solo night VFR cross-country flights to a towered airport.
You logged actual IMC on a flight under Visual Flight Rules. Therefore the flight wasn’t under Visual Flight Rules.
 
You logged actual IMC on a flight under Visual Flight Rules. Therefore the flight wasn’t under Visual Flight Rules.
Except it doesn't have to be "under visual flight rules." It just has to be in, as @Matthew pointed out, in "VFR conditions." You know, like when you are maintaining "VFR conditions" when flying VFR on Top while on an IFR flight plan?

OTOH, if the argument is,

You logged actual IMC on a flight under Visual Flight Rules. Therefore the flight wasn’t in visual flight conditions.

that would make some sense.
 
For my CSEL checkride the DPE rejected one of my flights for the "night VFR conditions" time building requirement needed for the commercial checkride. The specific section cited is 61.129 (4) (ii) that reads "5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower". The reason it was invalided was because on a 3.6 total flight I had logged .5 actual instrument flight time in one of my solo night VFR cross-country flights to a towered airport. My chief pilot, my instructor and I all agreed that the remaining 3.1 should have counted for VFR conditions. I filed IFR for the flight because that was a personal minimum of mine at the time, No solo cross-country without filing IFR for safety reasons. The majority of the flight was VFR except about half an hour when I was climbing out of the airport and in cruise of which I couldn't see the horizon or anything outside. I was indeed flying by reference to the instruments alone and on an IFR flight plan, so the .5 is legal to log.

Thanks for reading this and I'd like to know what you think... especially if you're a DPE.
You will have to weigh the time and effort to refly the flight vs. the time and effort to find another DPE since I don't think anyone will change the DPE's mind.
 
OTOH, if the argument is ... the flight wasn’t in visual flight conditions.

that would make some sense.

The requirement is not for "a flight" (or flights) in VFR conditions, just an accumulation of 5 hours in night VFR conditions.
 
Except it doesn't have to be "under visual flight rules." It just has to be in, as @Matthew pointed out, in "VFR conditions." You know, like when you are maintaining "VFR conditions" when flying VFR on Top while on an IFR flight plan?

OTOH, if the argument is,



that would make some sense.
The other part (and I understand this may be just the way it was stated, not what the flight needed to be per the regs) is that it was a “solo night VFR cross-country flight”, which makes me wonder if the OP is even referencing the reg that the examiner used to disqualify him.

There’s ambiguity in the OP’s version that needs to be clarified before an accurate answer can be given.
 
The other part (and I understand this may be just the way it was stated, not what the flight needed to be per the regs) is that it was a “solo night VFR cross-country flight”, which makes me wonder if the OP is even referencing the reg that the examiner used to disqualify him.

There’s ambiguity in the OP’s version that needs to be clarified before an accurate answer can be given.
I read it as the experience section - night hours of experience, solo - and not the instruction section where you need the dual night XC. My take is that he flew a night XC of 3.6 hrs, mostly in VMC but on an IFR flight plan, then did 0.5 hrs actual because he couldn't see the horizon. He claimed 3.1 of those hours as "VFR conditions", but the DPE didn't allow it so now he's short by some number that's <= 3.1 hrs.
 
it was a “solo night VFR cross-country flight”
I think it was just a flight with the intention to accumulate flight time toward the 5 hours of solo night, and it just happened to be a cross-country flight.
 
re. the "solo" requirement...
As a rated pilot (not a student solo) does that just mean
just no instructor on board?​
no passengers...pilot is the sole occupant?​
passenger could be an instructor but not acting as an instructor?​

I haven't dug into the reg on this, but just reading it on the surface. solo is an odd term to use and maybe a bit ambiguous.(?)
In my brain, solo has always meant that time as a student pilot when all alone...and it has no application to my flights since my PPL checkride.
 
It’s one of those things that’s unfortunate, but doesn’t really matter what we say. It’s all based on the DPE’s interpretation.
re. the "solo" requirement...
As a rated pilot (not a student solo) does that just mean
just no instructor on board?​
no passengers...pilot is the sole occupant?​
passenger could be an instructor but not acting as an instructor?​

I haven't dug into the reg on this, but just reading it on the surface. solo is an odd term to use and maybe a bit ambiguous.(?)
In my brain, solo has always meant that time as a student pilot when all alone...and it has no application to my flights since my PPL checkride.
C’mon, solo means solo. You and only you. It ain’t complicated.
 
re. the "solo" requirement...
As a rated pilot (not a student solo) does that just mean
just no instructor on board?​
no passengers...pilot is the sole occupant?​
passenger could be an instructor but not acting as an instructor?​

I haven't dug into the reg on this, but just reading it on the surface. solo is an odd term to use and maybe a bit ambiguous.(?)
In my brain, solo has always meant that time as a student pilot when all alone...and it has no application to my flights since my PPL checkride.
61.51d.

And, Webster.

However, to slightly temper this, "solo" used to mean the opposite of "dual", so basically solo meant "without an instructor". It's been years since I looked this up, but it was written that way in the FARs circa something like the 1940's. And changed to the current, reasonable definition somewhere around the 50's.
 
The requirement is not for "a flight" (or flights) in VFR conditions, just an accumulation of 5 hours in night VFR conditions.
"that would make some sense" does not equal "I agree with it."
 
Thanks for the point Russ, on where to look....like I said, I had not dug into the regs.....but ugh. Could you elaborate? ...this is a friendly hangar chat...You're not a DE giving a test
I'm just genuinely curious of your thoughts on the subject

and yeah, I know the "webster" definition of SOLO...that sort of comment just ain't helpful! Sometimes you need to understand the intent behind something, since words can have different meanings, etc....
but yeah, 61.51.d does seem to clear up at least that part of the question

ok so, 61.51.
(d) Logging of solo flight time. Except for a student pilot performing the duties of pilot in command of an airship requiring more than one pilot flight crewmember, a pilot may log as solo flight time only that flight time when the pilot is the sole occupant of the aircraft.

ok, but why does that matter? What is the intent of the requirement?

I guess I kind of understand why there would be times they want actual sole manipulator of the controls + acting/actual PIC time..... so no CFI's allowed
but that's not what they wrote.

Waht if the other occupant is a non-pilot...could be any non-pilot rated person really....oh I don't know, for example let's just say a 1 year old?
and for that matter why would it matter if the other occupant is an adult...mom, sister, coworker, friend ....or even a rated pilot along for the ride?
why on earth for any reason towards gaining experience and proficiency in the given situation does that matter?

The reason this question came to my mind....and this thread is amazingly timely I might add...
Just last night I was goofing around in my myflightbook logbook, and looking at the "progress to ratings section". This requirement was reporting 0%, but I know I've got a lot of night hours and night landings in my logbook going back many years ago. I understand now that it was because I just don't have "solo" checked for those flights because that was not something I was logging past my student pilot time... I have many flights in my logbook in years past where I didn't record if I had passengers or not. Some I could remember but some I have no idea....
Anyway, just for grins I went back and entered solo time for any night flight that was not logged as dual received.
I guess I need to go back and clean that up to include only those flights that I can remember for sure being lonely in the cold & dark cockpit.
 
61.51d.

And, Webster.

However, to slightly temper this, "solo" used to mean the opposite of "dual", so basically solo meant "without an instructor". It's been years since I looked this up, but it was written that way in the FARs circa something like the 1940's. And changed to the current, reasonable definition somewhere around the 50's.
It was more complicated than that. "Solo" was actually "sole manipulator" with limitations. This is the 1940s version:

The holder of a pilot certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, may log as solo flight time that portion of any flight during which he is the sole manipulator of the controls: Provided, That he may log as solo flight time only 50 percent of any flight time during which a certificated instructor or a certificated airline transport pilot is in the aircraft serving as an instructor for the purpose of reviewing or increasing such pilot's skill;​

ok, but why does that matter? What is the intent of the requirement?
Damn! I guess you'll have to dig in beyond the regs :D

I'm not sure of this, but I seem to recall that it was originally related to ICAO solo requirements. And it's probably just easier to have (let alone enforce) a blanket rule prohibiting any other human on board (the "pilot performing" exception aside) than one that depends depends on how much help the pilot receives. I'm picturing Chief Counsel letters like:

In your letter you asked whether the passenger on the 61.129(a)(4)(i) solo cross country flight can refill the pilots coffee mug from a thermos during the flight....​
 
Thanks for the point Russ, on where to look....like I said, I had not dug into the regs.....but ugh. Could you elaborate? ...this is a friendly hangar chat...You're not a DE giving a test
I'm just genuinely curious of your thoughts on the subject

and yeah, I know the "webster" definition of SOLO...that sort of comment just ain't helpful! Sometimes you need to understand the intent behind something, since words can have different meanings, etc....
but yeah, 61.51.d does seem to clear up at least that part of the question

ok so, 61.51.
(d) Logging of solo flight time. Except for a student pilot performing the duties of pilot in command of an airship requiring more than one pilot flight crewmember, a pilot may log as solo flight time only that flight time when the pilot is the sole occupant of the aircraft.

ok, but why does that matter? What is the intent of the requirement?

I guess I kind of understand why there would be times they want actual sole manipulator of the controls + acting/actual PIC time..... so no CFI's allowed
but that's not what they wrote.

Waht if the other occupant is a non-pilot...could be any non-pilot rated person really....oh I don't know, for example let's just say a 1 year old?
and for that matter why would it matter if the other occupant is an adult...mom, sister, coworker, friend ....or even a rated pilot along for the ride?
why on earth for any reason towards gaining experience and proficiency in the given situation does that matter?

The reason this question came to my mind....and this thread is amazingly timely I might add...
Just last night I was goofing around in my myflightbook logbook, and looking at the "progress to ratings section". This requirement was reporting 0%, but I know I've got a lot of night hours and night landings in my logbook going back many years ago. I understand now that it was because I just don't have "solo" checked for those flights because that was not something I was logging past my student pilot time... I have many flights in my logbook in years past where I didn't record if I had passengers or not. Some I could remember but some I have no idea....
Anyway, just for grins I went back and entered solo time for any night flight that was not logged as dual received.
I guess I need to go back and clean that up to include only those flights that I can remember for sure being lonely in the cold & dark cockpit.

Well it seems you're asking two questions here. What is the definition of solo? And why do various requirements have to be done solo?

As for the definition of solo, it's pretty clear that if there is anyone else in the plane, it's not solo flight. Doesn't matter if it's your 1-year-old or your airline pilot brother or your CFI, 61.51 is pretty clear that you must be the sole occupant (no, I do not know if wing-walker pilots ask if they can log the time as solo when the wing walker is not "in" the aircraft).

This is a reasonable and common sense definition of "solo", which yes I was being a little off-color with my Webster comment, and I apologize, but literally the first definition when I type "define solo" into Google is from the Oxford dictionary and says "done by one person alone; unaccompanied" - which makes sense.

As far as why various requirements for ratings need you to be solo, well I can't comment on the intent as I didn't write the FARs, but as I've stated on these threads before, if you allow anybody else on board you open up a can of worms. I've flown with pilots whose spouses are not pilots but can navigate and use the radios better than most. Kids? I know some teenagers whose aeronautical knowledge is amazing just through flight simulators and studying. How would you write the rule then so that you're not getting help when you're (for example) meeting the commercial requirements?

As to my other comment about historical FARs, I did some digging. Here is the definition of solo in 1944:

1707514517386.png

I find it interesting that "dual given" time was logged as "solo" time. However, it's pretty clear here that the word "solo" was being used in place of the current "PIC" (as there is no entry for Pilot In Command anywhere in this section. This creates a weird definition of solo that I'm glad they changed. Weird in that they also say that you only get 50% credit for hours flown with an instructor. Come on, it needs to be one or the other (IMO).

However, they fixed all of this by 1949, when the current definition of solo came into effect. Must have caused some interesting discussions at the time, and made it hard to figure who had which type of solo time.

EDIT - Dang it again @midlifeflyer ! It must have taken me 8 minutes to type that.
 
Thanks for the point Russ, on where to look....like I said, I had not dug into the regs.....but ugh. Could you elaborate? ...this is a friendly hangar chat...You're not a DE giving a test
I'm just genuinely curious of your thoughts on the subject

and yeah, I know the "webster" definition of SOLO...that sort of comment just ain't helpful! Sometimes you need to understand the intent behind something, since words can have different meanings, etc....
but yeah, 61.51.d does seem to clear up at least that part of the question

ok so, 61.51.
(d) Logging of solo flight time. Except for a student pilot performing the duties of pilot in command of an airship requiring more than one pilot flight crewmember, a pilot may log as solo flight time only that flight time when the pilot is the sole occupant of the aircraft.

ok, but why does that matter? What is the intent of the requirement?

I guess I kind of understand why there would be times they want actual sole manipulator of the controls + acting/actual PIC time..... so no CFI's allowed
but that's not what they wrote.

Waht if the other occupant is a non-pilot...could be any non-pilot rated person really....oh I don't know, for example let's just say a 1 year old?
and for that matter why would it matter if the other occupant is an adult...mom, sister, coworker, friend ....or even a rated pilot along for the ride?
why on earth for any reason towards gaining experience and proficiency in the given situation does that matter?

The reason this question came to my mind....and this thread is amazingly timely I might add...
Just last night I was goofing around in my myflightbook logbook, and looking at the "progress to ratings section". This requirement was reporting 0%, but I know I've got a lot of night hours and night landings in my logbook going back many years ago. I understand now that it was because I just don't have "solo" checked for those flights because that was not something I was logging past my student pilot time... I have many flights in my logbook in years past where I didn't record if I had passengers or not. Some I could remember but some I have no idea....
Anyway, just for grins I went back and entered solo time for any night flight that was not logged as dual received.
I guess I need to go back and clean that up to include only those flights that I can remember for sure being lonely in the cold & dark cockpit.
I finished transferring all my flights into MyFlightBook, and looked at the same thing. I went back and added the "solo" checkbox. But then I realized, almost all my solo night flights were for passenger currency. I rarely flew at night without a passenger along for a night sightseeing trip. Now I need to go out and do some solo night flights, just puttering around the countryside before sunset starts moving too late.
 
Everyone knows that solo time is all that time that you manipulate the controls solely by reference to the second half of Free Bird.
 
I read it as the experience section - night hours of experience, solo - and not the instruction section where you need the dual night XC. My take is that he flew a night XC of 3.6 hrs, mostly in VMC but on an IFR flight plan, then did 0.5 hrs actual because he couldn't see the horizon. He claimed 3.1 of those hours as "VFR conditions", but the DPE didn't allow it so now he's short by some number that's <= 3.1 hrs.

Yes thanks you are correct. This student is now short Night solo hours in VFR conditions and must do another night flight. This is all for somebody in a flight school, not me of course. We are just gathering information to make a case for later and future students. This student is redoing 2 hours of night vfr time where there will be no actual IFR time logged.
 
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Yes thanks you are correct. This student is now short Night solo hours in VFR conditions and must do another night flight. This is all for somebody in a flight school, not me of course. We are just gathering information to make a case for later and future students. This student is redoing 2 hours of night vfr time where there will be no actual IFR time logged.
I still don’t know why the 3.1 were disallowed, unless it was as suggested by @midlifeflyer, since some of that flight was logged as actual then the whole flight itself wasn’t in VFR conditions.
 
I was actually opting for clarification of ambiguity, not increased ambiguity…
For my CSEL checkride the DPE rejected one of my flights
I had logged .5 actual
I filed IFR for the flight because that was a personal minimum of mine
except about half an hour when I was climbing out of the airport and in cruise of which I couldn't see the horizon or anything outside. I was indeed flying by reference to the instruments
And yet,
This is all for somebody in a flight school, not me of course.
 
Yeah, I lost interest when the story completely changed.
 
I was actually opting for clarification of ambiguity, not increased ambiguity…




And yet,

Well, It really doesn't matter who it happened to... It's nice to get clarification and different opinions on a subject. Thanks to everybody who had some insightful information on the topic.
 
It was more complicated than that. "Solo" was actually "sole manipulator" with limitations. This is the 1940s version:

The holder of a pilot certificate, other than a student pilot certificate, may log as solo flight time that portion of any flight during which he is the sole manipulator of the controls: Provided, That he may log as solo flight time only 50 percent of any flight time during which a certificated instructor or a certificated airline transport pilot is in the aircraft serving as an instructor for the purpose of reviewing or increasing such pilot's skill;​
Interesting. My first log book did not have a PIC column, just Dual and Solo.

Now I understand why.
 
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