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The phenomena include Black Hole Illusion, or BHI – when a pilot on a nighttime runway approach in a poorly lit area perceives he is higher than he should be and descends to a lower approach.
“If unlit high terrain or obstacles are near the approach path the results can be fatal,” Henry P. Williams, a researcher with the Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, reported.
The unit tested a team of 38 pilots in day– and nighttime simulation landings, finding that they all flew near perfect approaching in the daylight. But 92 percent made “significantly low BHI approaches” in the nighttime simulation, the report said. On average, they were 148 feet too low when 1.5 nautical miles from the runaway, it said.
But after viewing a training video on BHI the pilots were, on average, just three feet too low at the same distance from the runway.