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Home > Flying on the Boeing 777 > How pilots handle a Boeing 777 entirely in the dark?
How pilots handle a Boeing 777 entirely in the dark?
Flying - Flying on the Boeing 777
Monday, 13 October 2014 12:11

Night landing on a Boeing 777

Hi Capt Lim

We are flying a Boeing-777 from Los Angeles to Sydney which is a flight conducted entirely in the dark (night time).

I don't know how the pilots handle that long a flight and how they get their radar/satellite information as it is entirely over the water.

How are they informed, for example, of upcoming storms and/or turbulence?

How can they contact air traffic control to navigate to a different altitude for a smoother ride?

Thank you for answering and allaying my fears about this very long flight.


Hi Ellen,

On long international flights, the journey usually passes through different time zones and inevitably either takes off or land at night. Yes, the journey may even be entirely flown throughout the night like yours from Los Angeles to Sydney. Flying in the dark is the least of the pilots’ worries as they are trained to do so.

With advanced technology, all modern planes are equipped with very good navigational and communication system (see a previous question and answer here)

With GPS that makes use of satellites, a plane can fly very accurately even though it may be out of the radar range (limited to around 250-300 nautical miles) especially over the ocean.

However, a plane has also airborne weather radar to detect any weather ahead, such as storms. Turbulence is associated with weather and pilots would avoid them. Prior to the flight, the pilots do have weather forecast to indicate the most turbulent areas along the route.

As mentioned in the previous answer in the above link, a plane is in contact with the ATC at all times and would request changes of altitude or route deviation to enjoy a smoother ride if required.

Flying at night usually has certain advantages. It is generally smoother and less turbulent.

Air Austral B777 Flight In The Cockpit


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Hi captain lim. I was travelling on a PIA B707- 320C in Aug 1989 from Karachi to Lahore when during flight the aircraft started to drop rapidly like it was falling.looking outside we were in full darkness I started trembling and my mother and uncle seemed very distressed. The aircraft returned to normal.what do you think the cause of this was captain lim?
Rayhan Ahmed , 09 Aug, 2015

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