Starting, Taxiing, Runup, Takeoff and Climb

Starting, Taxiing, and Runup

Once seated in the airplane and prior to starting the engine, arrange all items and materials to be used during the flight so they will be readily available and convenient to use. Take extra caution at night to assure the propeller area is clear. Turning the rotating beacon ON, or flashing the airplane position lights serves to alert persons nearby to remain clear of the propeller. To avoid excessive drain of electrical current from the battery, it is recommended that unnecessary electrical equipment be turned OFF until after the engine has been started.

After starting the engine and when ready to taxi, turn the taxi or landing light ON. Be aware that continuous use of the landing light with revolutions per minute (rpm) power settings normally used for taxiing may place an excessive drain on the airplane’s electrical system. Also, overheating of the landing light is possible because of inadequate airflow to carry the heat away. Use landing lights only as necessary while taxiing. When using lights, consideration should be given to not blinding other pilots. Taxi slowly, particularly in congested areas. If taxi lines are painted on the ramp or taxiway, follow the lines to ensure a proper path along the route.

Use the checklist for the before takeoff and run-up checks and procedures. During the day, forward movement of the airplane can be detected easily. At night, the airplane could creep forward without being noticed unless the pilot is alert for this possibility. Hold or lock the brakes during the run-up and be alert for any forward movement. An instrument check should be done while taxiing to check for proper and correct operation prior to takeoff.

Takeoff and Climb

Night flying is very different from day flying and demands more attention of the pilot. The most noticeable difference is the limited availability of outside visual references. Therefore, flight instruments should be used to a greater degree in controlling the airplane. This is particularly true on night takeoffs and climbs. Adjust the flightdeck lights to a minimum brightness that allow reading the instruments and switches but not hinder outside vision. This also eliminates light reflections on the windshield and windows.

After ensuring that the final approach and runway are clear of other air traffic, or when cleared for takeoff by the air traffic controller, turn the landing and taxi lights ON and line the airplane up with the centerline of the runway. If the runway does not have centerline lighting, use the painted centerline and the runway edge lights. After the airplane is aligned, note the heading indicator and set to correspond to the known runway direction. To begin the takeoff, release the brakes and advance the throttle smoothly to maximum allowable power. As the airplane accelerates, it should be kept moving straight ahead between and parallel to the runway edge lights.

The procedure for night takeoffs is the same as for normal daytime takeoffs except that many of the runway visual cues are not available. Check the flight instruments frequently during the takeoff to ensure the proper pitch attitude, heading, and airspeed are being attained. As the airspeed reaches the normal lift-off speed, adjust the pitch attitude to establish a normal climb. Accomplish this by referring to both outside visual references, such as lights, and to the flight instruments. [Figure]

Establish a positive climb

After becoming airborne, the darkness of night often makes it difficult to note whether the airplane is getting closer to or farther from the surface. To ensure the airplane continues in a positive climb, be sure a climb is indicated on the attitude indicator, vertical speed indicator (VSI), and altimeter. It is also important to ensure the airspeed is at best climb speed.

Make necessary pitch and bank adjustments by referencing the attitude and heading indicators. It is recommended that turns not be made until reaching a safe maneuvering altitude. Although the use of the landing lights is helpful during the takeoff, they become ineffective after the airplane has climbed to an altitude where the light beam no longer extends to the surface. The light can cause distortion when it is reflected by haze, smoke, or clouds that might exist in the climb. Therefore, when the landing light is used for the takeoff, turn it off after the climb is well established provided it is not being used for collision avoidance.

Approaches and Landings