Night time antics…

March 31, 2017 4:51 pm Published by

Many drone companies now advertise that they have ‘night permissions’.  What exactly does this mean though?  Well drone operators don’t have licences, they have permissions.  We all have an annual ‘Permission for Commercial Operation’ issued by the CAA after production of some documentation.  One of these documents is called an operations manual.

Once you have been operational for ~12-months the CAA will entertain you adding a set of procedures to your operations manual for night flying.

This usually includes the following:


Statement of operating procedure:

The following procedures shall be adhered to by all ROAVR-UAS staff when conducting RPAS flights at night.

Ground Operations and Control Measures:

Prior to the proposed flight the PiC shall carryout a technical reconnaissance visit to the intended site of operations, the purpose of this visit will be as follows:

A detailed pre-flight risk assessment will be carried out in daylight paying particular attention to flight path hazards.  This technical reconnaissance may be carried out in daylight on the day of intended operation before the flight takes place BUT must be carried out 2 hours before sunset.

Prior to the flights taking place the PiC shall discuss and pre-plan all proposed flight paths with the client and agree on a plan to reduce pilot workload during the flight.

The intended launch site shall be clearly lit using glow sticks or similar to mark out a 6m x 6m launch and recovery pad.  An alternate will be identified and marked with reflective cones and glow sticks.  The flight path to this alternate will be identified and validated in daylight.

Flights will be limited to 250’ AGL in order to maintain accurate and reliable visual reference.

Aircraft lighting and pre-flight preparation:

As far as practical the aircraft chosen for the tasking shall be pre-flighted in daylight.  Where this is not practical a clearly lit area will be created for pre-flight checks and setup.  The pre-flight crew shall use personal head torches emitting white light to prepare the aircraft for flight.

The aircraft will be equipped with a single white strobe on the upper surface of the body of the aircraft.  This position will be such that the light performs an anti-collision function and early warning strobe.  In addition conspicuity lighting will be fitted on the arms of the aircraft to aid the PiC in orientation.

An observer must be used during all night operations.

MET Operational Requirements: 

MET conditions must be suitable for VLOS operations.

If MET deteriorates the tasking must be abandoned and rescheduled.

Lighting equipment to be deployed:

2 x high power torches for illuminating RPAS required

1 million candle power LED spotlight for general duties

4 x stand alone white LED work lamps for illuminating landing and take off area

6 x glow sticks for illuminating landing and take off area when the stand-alone lamps are too bright

2 x ultra bright LED head torches for pre-flights and post flight system checks

Additionally ROAVR-UAS will only allow RPAS pilots with 2Hrs (night) currency (non-commercial) to perform aerial work at night.  Currency shall be recorded in personal log books and demonstrated to the PiC before flight.

A full RAMS will be produced for all night operations regardless of client requirements.


Once ‘accepted’ by the CAA the operator will have an exemption of their PfCO for operating at night and should be able to present this to you the client.

Operating at night is tiring, challenging and very hard on your vision.  Aircraft moves should be fairly simple in constrained areas and the pilot should always be allowed plenty of time to rest between takes.

ROAVR have had night permissions for 3-years and have many hours experience with all sizes of aircraft.  Get in touch to see how we can add some wow to your next project!

Deep Energy

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This post was written by roavr