Decision Expected Soon On Night-Landing Rule...

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Mountain Airports Could See Operations Limited

The FAA is close to a decision on whether it will change the definition of "night" to reflect that local conditions can differ from the times published in the American Air Almanac. The change could limit operations at some airports where terrain causes darkness significantly earlier than the Almanac indicates. When the FAA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) about the change in 2002, in response to a recommendation from the NTSB following a fatal crash in Aspen, Colo., the industry was almost entirely against it. FAA spokesman William Shumann told AVweb last week that the FAA will issue a final rule early next year. "We can't say what the rule will say about the definition of night," he said. "Hypothetical possibilities include dropping the definition and just changing the times in instrument procedures. ... It's also possible, of course, that we would just keep the American Air Almanac times." The proposal would change the official definition of night to read: "Night is the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time, or such other period between sunset and sunrise, as may be prescribed by the FAA." The suggested change is in response to the NTSB's investigation in the crash of a chartered Gulfstream III that slammed into a hillside at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport on March 29, 2001, killing all 18 people on board.