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The human operator, the least reliable element of an aerodyne, but the most essential...!
Frank Caron (1991)

Last update:
26 September 2016

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Human Factors - 7 tips for optimum vision with flight deck lighting at night

Regardless of flight deck design, the following actions can help ensure taht lighting is optimized for night flying:

  1. ensure that all aircraft lighting (both interior and exterior, and including dimming controls) is functioning properly prior to flight;

  2. if a night flight is planned, wear sunglasses during the day (15% light transmission is recommended). This will increase the rate of dark adaptation and improve night vision sensitivity;

  3. avoid bright lights for 30 minutes immediately before a night flight;

  4. just before takeoff, after the eyes have adapted to darkness, adjust the instrument lighting level so that all displays are readable. Use the minimum setting required to preserve dark-adaptation levels while maintaining the ability to see outside the flight deck;

  1. if a map light or utility light must be used, keep the light as dim as possible and use it for the briefest possible period;

  2. because dark adaptation is an independent process in each eye, close one eye when being briefly exposed to a bright light (for example while reading a map). This protects that eye and eliminates the need for re-adaptation;

  3. while flying an aircraft near storm clouds, increase the level of instrument lighting to its maximum level in anticipation of lightning flashes.

(from the Flight Safety Fundation)

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