Yes, you can log time as a safety pilot under certain conditions.
First and foremost, you need to be certified and rated for the aircraft you’ll be flying in and hold a private pilot license. As a safety pilot you are counted as a required crew member which means that you need a current class III medical certificate.
If you satisfy those conditions, you can act as a safety pilot. Your role will be to look out for other aircraft, rising terrain, and other hazards while the other pilot flies with a view limiting device.
The purpose of this exercise is for the pilot to practice his instrument approaches in order to maintain his instrument rating.
As a safety pilot you are able to log hours so long as you are designated as the acting pilot in control (PIC) before take-off. What this means is that you have ultimate responsibility, liability, and authority for that aircraft.
You don’t need to be manipulating the aircraft to be the PIC. In fact, both pilots can log time if the safety pilot is the designated PIC. This is because the other pilot is the sole manipulator of the aircraft.
You should note that the safety pilot can only log time when the other pilot is ‘under the hood.’ That is the only time that counts is when the other pilot is wearing a vision limiting device.
Can a Safety Pilot Log Night Time?
Yes, they can. The same rules apply to night flying as with day flying. A safety pilot can log time so long as the other pilot is under the hood. They can’t log time when the pilot is not wearing vision limiting devices because the other pilot is in full control.
Night time can be logged between ‘the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight.’ In practice, this means the period of time when the sun is below the horizon, but there is enough light to see by.
Depending on your location and the time of the year, civil twilight can last for 10 minute or an hour. This is why there is no set time frame for night time flights.
It’s important to remember when flying close to night time, that your lights must be on from sunset to sunrise.
Does a Safety Pilot Need to Sign a Logbook?
If you want to log hours as PIC or even SIC for that matter, you need to fill in your logbook.
In the US there is no formal layout or format for logbooks, so you can store your records however you like so long as the key details are recorded.
You need to make a record of the following:
- Flight time
- Departure airport
- Arrival airport
- Aircraft make
- Aircraft model
- Aircraft identification
- Safety pilot (where applicable)
- Type of pilot experience
- Flight conditions
If you are logging time as a safety pilot remember that you can only log hood time not the full duration of the flight.
You also need to ensure that the other pilot puts your name in their logs so that it can be verified. It is crucial that your logbooks are up to date and correct. These are used to verify your training and in case of investigations.
Is a Private Pilot Required to Log Flight Time?
In order to be certified as a private pilot you need to log 40 hours of flight. These hours need to be recorded in your logbook with all the necessary information.
After these 40 hours, you are not required to log flight time unless you wish to progress to a commercial license or an airline license.
This is because in the United States you are only required to log flight information that satisfies the minimum times for certification and currency.
To maintain your private pilot license, you will need to retain currency by taking biennial reviews. If you intend to carry passengers or fly at night, you will need to log hours in line with the code of federal regulations.
This mostly entails making 3 flights in the last 90 days under the specified conditions. So, for night flying you will need to have made 3 take-offs and landings in the period 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise. To act as the PIC with passengers you need to have completed 3 flights in the last 90 days as a PIC.
Even though you are not legally required to log all flights, it is good practice to do so. Logbooks are important sources of information in the event of a crash or infraction. Clear, up to date logbooks can be evidence that you are not at fault if that is the case.