Traffic Patterns

Traffic Patterns



when taking off or landing at airports pilots use a standardized traffic pattern the traffic patterns main purpose is to ensure that air traffic flows into and out of the airport in an orderly manner this makes the airport environment safer since all aircraft should be following the same procedures the basic traffic pattern is similar at all airports whether it is controlled by a control tower or a non towered airport the traffic pattern consists of a rectangular shape made up of five different legs departure crosswind downwind base and final the standard traffic pattern is referred to as left traffic this means that all turns in the pattern are made to the left a runway could also have a non-standard or right traffic pattern where all turns are made to the right at most airports the traffic pattern is typically flown 1,000 feet above the elevation of the airport the pilot should enter the pattern on a 45 degree angle to the downwind leg flying towards the approach end of the runway when within about one mile of the runway a turn should be made to enter the downwind leg flying parallel to the runway and in the opposite direction of landing the pilot should then fly two 90-degree turns one turn to the base leg and the other turn to the final leg while descending to his touchdown point on the runway this allows them to properly set up for landing and to sequence themselves with other air traffic an airplane that has taken off and is climbing out on runway heading is on the departure leg when at a sufficient altitude the pilot can either depart the pattern or stay in the pattern by turning onto the crosswind leg if they decide to stay in the pattern the pilot can turn back on to the downwind leg once they have spaced themselves out sufficiently and set up to practice another landing there is one additional leg of the pattern which has not been mentioned yet this leg is called the upwind leg and is also parallel with the runway but located on the side opposite the downwind this leg is typically only used if a pilot has to abort their landing so they can safely space themselves out from other traffic pilots in the pattern announce their positions in reference to these legs if a pilot announces that they are on the base leg and about to turn final another pilot on the ground would know that it's probably not safe for them to take off at that time they'll then wait for the approaching traffic to land before they take off at tower controlled airports ATC may instruct pilots to fly straight and approaches or have pilots enter on the base leg ATC may even run left and right pattern simultaneously at non-towered airports these procedures are not recommended flying the approved full pattern is the best way to avoid traffic conflicts when ATC is not there to coordinate non-standard arrivals and departures as previously stated standard patterns are flown with all turns to the left for reasons of terrain noise abatement or to prevent conflict with other operations some airports have right-hand patterns for some of their runways right-hand patterns are depicted on aeronautical charts note in an airport facility directories and shown by indicators on the surface of the airport referred to as segmented circles a segmented circle consists of a series of panels arranged in a circle usually in the center of the airport with extensions to show the runways and direction of the patterns if non-standard in this example the extension on the Left shows left traffic when landing to the east and right traffic when landing to the west these panels surround the primary wind indicator so that it can be located more easily from the air airports with runway lights will usually mount a floodlight above the wind indicator in the segmented circle so the pilots can see the wind direction at night a pilot can get wind information by radio from observers on the ground or from automated systems such as a sauce or a wasps that broadcast the information a pilot can also use wind socks when teased or tetrahedrons to judge the wind direction and speed most airports use one or more of these indicators when T's and tetrahedrons are large structures that are free to pivot on their mounts so that they weathervane into the wind when socks are orange conical flags that not only pivot on their mast indicating wind direction but will sag or straighten with changing wind velocity allowing pilots to visually estimate the wind speed small airports may have only one wind sock but larger airports usually have multiple wind socks with one centrally located and the other is near the ends of the runways where they are easily visible two pilots on takeoff or landing as airports become encroached by homes and developments the pilots and airport operators may have to deal with noise complaints at some airports the pattern procedures may be amended to minimize the over flight of the more noise sensitive areas nighttime curfews or restrictions to training activities such as touch-and-go landings during certain hours may also be in effect to find if noise abatement procedures exist in an airport you can consult the AFD or similar publications when noise abatement procedures exist informational signs outlining recommended procedures are often posted near the departure ends of runways flight schools and other businesses on airports known as fixed base operators or FBOs often have information on noise sensitive areas and noise abatement procedures posted on bulletin boards or on their websites it is also recommended to consult with local pilots and operators to learn about noise sensitive areas

46 Replies to “Traffic Patterns”

  1. We don't do the 45 degree join in the UK. It seems like someone is butting into the circuit and jumping ahead of the queue, causing confusion to the position of traffic. Ok if you are the only aircraft at the airfield.

  2. Some people say that standard holding pattern is right turn this one says its left turn as standard. Who is correct or wrong??

  3. so pattern direction on the map 3:34. RP 17 , 26 . not being a pilot , I'm assuming RP for Right Pattern. and can I assume 17 , 26 are runways. And if assumption is correct. can I also assume that there are at least two runways : 17/35 & 26/80. and if so would pattern be,
    LP 35 , 80, to keep all trafic together or is it RP respectively?

  4. If an airport or airstrip has multiple runways, does each runway have it’s corresponding traffic pattern? Or do you just enter the one pattern using the one mile distance? Sorry if it’s a dumb question. Just doing some self study before I start my pilot training in Spring.

  5. If an airport or airstrip has multiple runways, does each runway have it’s corresponding traffic pattern? Or do you just enter the one pattern using the one mile distance? Sorry if it’s a dumb question. Just doing some self study before I start my pilot training in Spring.

  6. I constantly see pilots, especially commercial charter pilots in my area completely ignore the common traffic pattern and 45° entry to the downwind. They will enter non towered fields on final, right or left base, whatever suits them. They often depart the same way.

  7. Noise abatement is such bs. The majority of airports were there wayy b4 residences. Then people move close to airports and complain. Smh

  8. How to handle a situation when incoming traffic is joining at 45 degrees and a plane is staying in the pattern and has taken off and has turned into the downwind leg?

  9. i have a question about departure i understand straight out & 45 when r u clear of pattern to proceed on your course

  10. Thank you Embry Riddle. So sick of people calling upwind when on the departure leg. This is a good example of how training under part 61 just allows bad habits to be passed down without any checks. One CFI misunderstanding infects multiple new pilots. I never hear anyone get the departure leg call correct anymore.

  11. This is normally a spot on team but because you said standard I have to chime in as a CFI. You only gave some of the info. You depart the pattern at pattern altitude straight out or on the 45 not at an altitude of your discretion. You turn crosswind 300 ft bellow traffic pattern and turn downwind at pattern altitude. If your going to teach standard pattern procedures teach all the standard procedures. This is a common mistake by most instructors who fail to follow the FAR/AIM and omit the altitudes or should I say an example of primacy.. There’s also the AC 90-66A to further clarify. For you students make sure you verify procedures in the chart supplement to make sure the airport operates standard procedures or non standard especially pattern altitudes and traffic pattern. Never assume. Great video just not fully complete.

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