Entering the pattern towered airport

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Trogdor, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Trogdor

    Trogdor Pre-Flight

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    AIM says pilots should circle the airport to the left before entering downwind at 45 unless otherwise instructed.

    Yet I see a lot of folks enter the downwind in all kinds of different ways. Does tower really care provided there is adequate separation of traffic?
     
  2. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Call up before entering their airspace and they will instruct you. They will care if you fail to follow the instructions.
     
  3. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    :yeahthat: ‘nuff said.
     
  4. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I call 10 miles out and follow their instructions.
    Edit: Speaking of Class Delta specifically here.
     
  5. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    End the thread! LOL.
     
  6. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That is all
     
  7. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Darn, I wanted to add my 2 cents. Nothing more to add though.
     
  8. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    B9543C9E-5B8C-43C8-9EC9-82C03DC8E04A.jpeg
     
  9. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    You don't circle the airport to the left BEFORE entering the pattern.

    91.129 (f) Approaches. Except when conducting a circling approach under part 97 of this chapter or unless otherwise required by ATC, each pilot must -
    (1) Circle the airport to the left, if operating an airplane; ​

    91.129 is giving you your directions of turn for the traffic pattern. It is there to override the method used at non-towered fields to determine direction of turns from 91.126(b)(1) with which you would otherwise be required to comply due to it being incorporated by reference by 91.129(a).

    91.126 (b) Direction of turns. When approaching to land at an airport without an operating control tower in Class G airspace -
    (1) Each pilot of an airplane must make all turns of that airplane to the left unless the airport displays approved light signals or visual markings indicating that turns should be made to the right, in which case the pilot must make all turns to the right​

    91.129 (a) General. Unless otherwise authorized or required by the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the Class D airspace area, each person operating an aircraft in Class D airspace must comply with the applicable provisions of this section. In addition, each person must comply with §§ 91.126 and 91.127.​

    The reason that any approved ground marking, or A/FD notations, as to the traffic pattern direction are NOT applicable at towered airports is because the controller will tell you how to fly the pattern if they want anything other than left turns. There is less chance for error if it's always a left pattern unless ATC tells you otherwise.
     
  10. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    Burninate the control tower and the thatched roof cottages. Assert dominance.
     
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  11. Trogdor

    Trogdor Pre-Flight

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    After contact I will hear “report left midfield runway blah”....that’s it.

    Now let’s say I’m on the other side of the runway they wanted/active cause that’s how my approach worked out. Now what?

    Or I should just assume my vector into the pattern will be reasonable? I.e. Tower said report left or right midfield because I came up on the screen and that’s the most direct route?
     
  12. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    If the entry you are given doesn't make sense from your location then request something else that does.
     
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  13. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    What else would you expect to hear Trigdor?

    It is possible they want you to make right traffic because of other traffic.

    If you say “unable” because you are not comfortable with ATC’s instructions ATC will come up with a different plan.

    ATC may be dealing with aircraft with conflicting flight paths and speeds.

    They probably have a better idea of the best plan than you do because they have more information.
     
  14. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Something like what I heard at JQF a few months ago?

    “I’m west of the airport, do you want left traffic for 20 or is right ok?”

    “Report midfield right downwind 20”
     
  15. Trogdor

    Trogdor Pre-Flight

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    Got it.

    The reason why I asked was because I heard an exchange where the guy was on the other side of the runway to enter the traffic pattern the Tower at least wanted initially. At that point, he would have to transition over the airport (get higher than TPA obviously) and tear drop in.

    Also, I have seen folks not enter the downwind at 45 but at 0 degrees. Tower seems to not care.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020
  16. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ATC makes mistakes. Just like us.
    If you are in a position to go straight into the downwind, why not? If you are due south of an airport where they are landing on 18 and they say "make right downwind," they are not asking you to fly 3-4 miles west of the airport so you can enter a 45.

    Sounds like lack of experience with towered airports. The standard traffic pattern rules and regulatory guidance mostly fall by the wayside when ATC gives you an instruction. I've had instructions to fly wide downwinds (because other aircraft were flying closer in downwinds), enter base legs, make 360 for spacing, fly to specific locations well outside the normal pattern, etc.

    The conceptual deference is, nontowered, we need standards so our actions and those of other pilots have some degree of predictability. At towered airports, we have coordinators who have a bigger picture than any of us individually.
     
  17. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I said consumate V's, CONSUMATE!
     
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  18. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Cleared for Takeoff

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    This issue pops up from time to time on private pilot, airplane single engine land practical tests. I have observed that for some reason, as yet undetermined, some applicants exhibit confusion about following explicit instructions from the control tower. After calling up with the correct position -- say, 8 miles southwest of the airport -- and being instructed to join a left downwind, several applicants have tried to "swing wide," fly well past a logical entry point and and join on a 45 degree angle as if joining the pattern at an uncontrolled field. This, of course, is contrary to ATC instructions, and frustrates the tower because they were counting on the aircraft to join the pattern at the designated point. In fact, they were basing their sequencing on that expectation and had to shuffle the whole pattern to accommodate the pilot's "creativity."

    Since I've personally observed this a few times now (in two cases, resulting in a Notice of Disapproval) I'm wondering if this simply isn't being properly explained or taught by flight instructors. What's odd about it is that in all but one of the cases in which I was witness to this behavior, the applicant was based at the busy class D airport and was quite accustomed to tower instructions to join the pattern after returning back from the practice area. I wonder how it wouldn't have reared its head during the regular course of training.

    As has been stated above, simply follow ATC instructions. If you're told to join on a left base, join on a left base. If they instruct you to join a 5 mile file, do that. Don't add any creative touches.

    Larry mentioned that if the entry doesn't make sense, ask for something else. The most common reason for the tower-requested entry seeming to not make sense is the pilot's incorrect advisement of his or her location on the initial call-up. Suggestion would be to take a quick minute and be sure your location is correct before sharing it with the tower. Goes a long way towards avoiding problems.
     
  19. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I wish the 45 entry was never introduced by the FAA.
     
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  20. Doug Reid

    Doug Reid Line Up and Wait

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    I also dislike the teardrop entry...
     
  21. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    Old flying adage...in the interaction between a pilot and controller if the pilot makes a mistake, the pilot dies...if the controller makes a mistake, the pilot dies.
     
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  22. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    They might tell you what they once told me, "Report one mile northeast of the approach end of runway 27 for a standard upwind, crosswind, downwind approach." Or maybe, "Cross midfield and report entering downwind." Or, "Make right traffic, cleared to land."
     
  23. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    It also can cause a world of issues at airports that have different local challenges, take a look at Santa Paula for example.. you can't just "45 left downwind that" if you are landing to the west.. or I guess you could try but it would be a daredevil maneuver and the locals in the pattern would hate you
     
  24. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    To me it never made sense.

    Find the airport.
    Find all the traffic in the pattern via radio/visual confirmation.
    Put all of that traffic to your back and lose sight of all traffic.
    Turn around.
    Now, find all the traffic again...
    Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Just enter straight in on a "corner" of the pattern.
     
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  25. smv

    smv Pattern Altitude

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    Is it possible that said pilot made a mistake when reporting initial position? "Cessna 12345 is one-zero miles south east..." when they were actually 10 miles south west?
     
  26. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    A very common error. Just look at the bottom of the freaking DG.. finding your relation to the airport it some kind of dark art to many.. further complicated by people scrolling an ipad that is track up so provides zero actual situational awareness
     
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  27. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Yeah, another reason for north up!
     
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  28. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    While I get your point, most of the time somebody makes a mistake nobody dies.
     
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  29. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    I’ve made the mistake of saying east when I meant west once or twice. When they give me odd directions the mistake becomes immediately apparent to me.
     
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  30. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    if the pattern entry doesn't make sense, see if you can back it in before you give up.
     
  31. MrAnderson

    MrAnderson Pre-Flight

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    When they tell me to expect a left base I usually just fly in circles over the airport until I can establish an inverted teardrop 45 entry to the downwind, at least 500’ above TPA. That ATC is confusing.
     
  32. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    In 30 years and 7000+ hours of flying I don’t recall ever being given anything but one of the following 3 options at a class D airport.

    1. Report Downwind (right or left depending on what is closest)
    2. Report x mile base
    3. Report x mile final.

    I don’t recall them ever asking me to cross the runway centerline To enter downwind.
    I am sure it happens and other entries occur, but they are pretty rare in most locations.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  33. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It really does depends in location. At Centennial (KAPA) in the Denver area, coming in from the west, it's very common to hear, "make right downwind runway 17R. Remain west of I-25" because there is also traffic in the right downwind east of I-25. In the 20 years I was based there, I've also received instructions to cross the runways to enter downwind on the other side. An then there were some weird instructions too.

    Aside from that, many Towers will give entry and reporting instruction with reference to local, uncharted, landmarks. The locals know them but as a transient first-timer, you don't. Be ready to respond with, "unfamiliar" and ask for something you do understand.

    the real point is that not all towered airports are created the same. Listen to the instruction. Make sure you understand it and question it if you don't.
     
  34. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Cleared for Takeoff

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    It's really not rare at all. Like Mark says, location will affect perceptions on this. If your local 'patch' tends to do things a certain way on a routine basis, it's easy to assume everywhere's the same.

    Here in the NE you'll hear every possible permutation under the sun, anytime the pattern is busy. Remain west of the runway 5-23 centerline; remain east; join a 5 mile straight in; cross over the airport and join a downwind on the opposite side; etc., etc. Morristown and Caldwell are affected by Newark's north or south operation as well. And if you're arriving to join the pattern when the airport is in the process of being turned around for the wind, who knows what you'll get. I've heard some pretty creative solutions from the guys in the ATCT.
     
  35. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    This sort of begs the question. If tower just tells you to join downwind, what is the "designated point"?
     
  36. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    There is none. They'll expect you to join downwind with a relatively direct path from your present position to the downwind. They will not expect you to do a lot of unnecessary maneuvering to reach a specific point on downwind that they didn't specify.
     
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  37. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Cleared for Takeoff

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    Perfect answer. If you're instructed to join a midfield left downwind, fly directly to that location from your present position. If you're instructed to "join the left downwind" do so with the most direct possible route. If you're anticipating a possible conflict as a result, speak up and clarify your concern with the tower controller.
     
  38. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I head straight for the tower expecting further instructions or to be told "Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full."
     
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  39. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    I was confused by the use of "specified" and "designated" to refer to something that's assumed. I assume that if the controller needs me to go directly somewhere, he'll tell me.
     
  40. Trogdor

    Trogdor Pre-Flight

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    When the tower says report a 3 mile right base, I assume that means get on the right base and report when I’m about 3 miles from the airport (I.e. when I get clearance to bounce-and-go and have to turn final I’m ~3 miles out).

    I’ve heard others say that means an actual 3 mile base??