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Along with many countries, the UK does not allow civilian aircraft to fly at night under Visual Flight Rules. However, unlike many countries with a similar night VFR ban it does not require pilots to be Instrument Rated to fly at night.
The Night Qualification
According to CAA FCL form SRG\1126 (current September 2006), a minimum of 5 hours night time flight is required for a night qualification. Of these 5 hours, at least 3 hours must be dual instruction and at least 1 hour must be cross-country navigation. In addition to the flight time requirements, a minimum of 5 solo take-offs and 5 solo full-stop landings are also required. Touch-and-goes are permitted at night, but the solo training requirement is for full-stop landings; the aircraft must come to a complete halt before taking off again for each circuit completed during the solo part of the training. The minima specified apply only to the aeroplane night qualification. The requirements for helicopter night qualification are far more stringent and include a minimum of 100 hours post-PPL(H) experience as pilot of helicopters. The night qualification permits flight at night under Instrument Flight Rules in Visual Meteorological Conditions outside controlled airspace. It is important to stress this: the qualification does not allow the pilot to enter Instrument meteorological conditions, it merely shows that the pilot has done sufficient basic instrument flight training to fly on clear nights.
The Night Qualification only allows night flight under IFR outside controlled airspace. Access to airports inside controlled airspace by aircraft flying visually is obtained by flying under Special VFR within the airport's control zone.
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