Precise meaning of “continue downwind”

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by PeterNSteinmetz, Aug 27, 2020.

  1. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Question that hopefully someone with more exact knowledge of controller instructions can provide insight on.

    Situation:

    Plane enters downwind and is given a #4 landing clearance. After inquiry about plane ahead is told “cancel landing clearance, continue downwind”.

    Does this also imply that the controller will call base? Or can the pilot turn base when judged appropriate for spacing?
     
  2. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If in doubt, ask.

    Otherwise, I would expect the controller to call your base in that situation.
     
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  3. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I would ask, that's not a clear instruction IMO. I would answer, "Cancel landing clearance, continue downwind, are you calling my base?, bugsmasher xxxx."
     
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  4. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Just keep flying downwind and expect them to call the base turn. If it’s not clear, simply ask...

    How many pages will this turn out to be?
     
  5. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    What @Ryanb said. Keep going same direction same altitude. Things start looking hinky ask questions.
     
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  6. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    I've gotten that followed by something like "your traffic is an RJ on a five mile final." In most cases, since I'm flying away from the airport, I'll maintain altitude but slow significantly.
     
  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Well in your case, there’s nothing precise by that instruction because it’s poor phraseology. “Continue” is used when the controller is simply withholding clearance and can’t issue it at that time. There should be no pattern instruction with it, only to expect your clearance at a certain time. “Cessna 345 continue, expect clearance short final.” Or for you to report something “Piper 123 continue, report 2 mile final.”

    Proper phraseology in your case would be “extend downwind” with possibly an instruction of “I’ll call your base.”
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
  8. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Unless you flew like a student pilot in the Phoenix area, and they are just trying to get you out of the airspace. :D
     
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  9. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    It means just what it says. Continue downwind or extend downwind. There will be more instructions later which might be "turn base" or to follow specific traffic.
     
  10. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I have had them forget, though.
    "how much farther do you want us to go? 123AB."
    "Sorry about that, turn base now, cleared for the option runway XX"
     
  11. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I'll just pipe up "Bugsmasher 6969, still downwind", that normally jogs their memory.
     
  12. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    Yep, that can happen. Have to pay attention to what's being told to other pilots.
     
  13. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    Here's what the Pilot/Controller Glossary has to say.
    .
    CONTINUE− When used as a control instruction should be followed by another word or words clarifying what is expected of the pilot. Example: “continue taxi,” “continue descent,” “continue inbound,” etc.

    Downwind Leg− A flight path parallel to the landing runway in the direction opposite to landing. The downwind leg normally extends between the crosswind leg and the base leg​
    .
    Interestingly, the P/CG entry for "CONTINUE" doesn't actually say anything about what "continue" means other than to say that it can be used as a control instruction.
     
  14. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    In El Paso, it means we are going to forget about you; fly straight into the Franklin mountains.
    Well, about 15 years ago.
     
  15. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff

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    We were asked to continue downwind. You shouldn't turn base unless you are expecting to land. There could be another airplane on a straight-in final.
     
  16. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Again, “continue downwind” is not proper phraseology from ATC. “Extend downwind” is.

    06BEA8A3-01EA-42E1-9833-D442906C9C4E.jpeg AB91176B-76B4-4106-A9E5-CCE3D7234EFD.jpeg
     
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  17. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yup. Here’s where CONTINUE appears as you described above in post #7

    a. Specific traffic pattern information (may be omitted if the aircraft is to circle the airport to the left).
    PHRASEOLOGY−
    ENTER LEFT/RIGHT BASE. STRAIGHT−IN.
    MAKE STRAIGHT−IN. STRAIGHT−IN APPROVED. RIGHT TRAFFIC.
    MAKE RIGHT TRAFFIC.
    RIGHT TRAFFIC APPROVED.
    CONTINUE.
    NOTE−
    Additional information should normally be issued with instructions to continue. Example: “continue, report one mile final”; “continue, expect landing clearance two mile final”; etc.
     
  18. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You should not turn base on your own without further communication. The moment you do you will have violated your last instruction received. If he had simply said continue, that changes things. But he said continue downwind, which we now know is not the correct thing to say. But it is an instruction nonetheless.
     
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  19. dfw11411

    dfw11411 Filing Flight Plan PoA Supporter

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    I sometimes receive a "continue on right downwind" instruction from the tower at my home field. It's always for sequencing. They tell me when to turn base. And, no, they've never forgotten me.

    It's a Joint Base runway with F-16 and C-5 traffic as well as GA traffic. The military pilots often practice "unique" approaches that I suspect are used in hostile areas. Given these unusual approaches and the huge variations in speeds, the timing and separation can be tricky for the controllers.
     
  20. kkoran

    kkoran Cleared for Takeoff

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    If not specifically defined,
    Since the intended meaning is the common meaning--to maintain without interruption a condition, course, or action--no further definition is required.
     
  21. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    Have had this happen several times at KFCM on the parallels. Its always "Extend" and in all but one memorable case the instruction also included they would be calling the base.
     
  22. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    This says you're no longer number 4. You have no clearance to the runway.

    So, fly your current heading and wait for instructions.
     
  23. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    So how far downwind did you go in that “one memorable case” before you finally said ‘Yo, Tower, remember me.’:D
     
  24. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I think the question has pretty well been answered, but the situation presents a good example of why situational awareness is useful. You may be on right downwind, but someone else is on an extended left base, and someone else is on an extended final leg. With a canceled landing clearance and an instruction to continue, you should expect to extend your downwind. When you get to the normal point to turn base, you should expect additional instruction, and if none is received, you should evaluate who is where and query the controller if your sequence in the pattern isn't clear.
     
  25. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Or the runup area is filling up and they gotta get some departures out. Love a Controller who just says 'leave me room for one departure" instead of doing the 'extend downwind, I'll call your base' boogie.'
     
  26. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    I agree, but would change one word. Change "clearance" to "sequence".

    I would make that change so as not to imply that a clearance to the runway is required. The only required clearance, for an arriving VFR aircraft, is the landing clearance followed by a taxi clearance. [14 CFR 91.129(i)]
     
  27. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I got a weird one from tower the other day. "396, check your altitude" I was totally confused as to what that meant. I was shooting an approach and I was way above the glideslope, but they had me panicking that I was about to run into something. My instructor responded with our current altitude, which I guess is what the tower wanted.
     
  28. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    He had been cleared #4, so clearance is the correct word. If he had only been told he was #4, but not cleared to land, I would agree with you.
     
  29. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    that will get me riled up as well. if they want to know my alt, check altitude is least i am expecting
     
  30. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    How far above the glide slope is "way above" I would not want to be way above the glide slope. If you are flying the approach you have to go misted if you have full deflection. Not that you did. Just a idea of why they might ask something like that..
     
  31. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    I think that was way more than 15 years ago if you're talking about the night flight CFIT where ABQ used to take Tower control functions years ago.;) If it's the one I'm thinking of, plane asked for a westbound departure and was approved, but didn't warn the pilot about the mountain...

    This was big during my training in 2006-2007 as my middle aged CFI said he was the FBO fueler for that flight just out of high school
     
  32. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    A few hundred feet, and we weren't even to the FAF yet. I think we were still more than 1500 feet AGL. My instructor says he thinks they lose radar contact in that area because he gets asked a lot right in that area.
     
  33. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm just a 200 hour pilot, waiting to take may IFR check ride. (hopefully next week!) But from my very limited experience I believe you should be under the glide slope if your still out past the FAF. I was taught to intercept the glide slope from below then fallow it down.
     
  34. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Well, when you're on an IFR flight plan, you don't always get to fly the approach the way it's published. This was in fairly busy airspace. They didn't clear me to descend until a few minutes prior. And I'm a student, so I'm not yet a pro at grabbing the glideslope quickly, especially when it's not "by the numbers". They also made me go missed shortly after the FAF, so it wasn't a very textbook approach all the way 'round.
     
  35. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    No, Dan
    This was daytime, me
    I resisted against the offer to fly dw through the rocks
     
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  36. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    But the landing clearance, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with the flying part. You don't need a landing clearance to turn or fly base or even final. The important part is that he was instructed to continue [maybe should have been extend] downwind. He has to follow that instruction whether he has a landing clearance or not.
     
  37. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's good stuff Salty, that's what it's like around here a lot of times, good to get it with some one at your side.
     
  38. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    A lot of arguing about whether, "Continue" or "Extend" is correct phraseology. Doesn't seem to matter to me...both are equally vague and mean about the same thing.

    At PAO, I've always heard "Extend". It's a common request. It can be nerve-wracking trying to figure out the controllers intent, as right downwind for 31, the most common place to be, runs straight into NUQ (Moffett). Unless you're local, you may not know that there's an LoA that gives up a chunk of NUQ's airspace to PAO almost permanently. Shoreline Amphitheater defines this line. If you're not local and get the instruction very close to the charted Delta, it may be very confusing. To make matters worse, the same LoA allows "extensions into Moffett" at the mutual agreement of the two towers. Which is confusing, because there's already a standing extension into Moffett. What "extensions into Moffett" means is all the way to Hangar One, which is solidly inside the pattern at KNUQ. Usually, you'll be told about "extensions into Moffett" when being asked to "Extend downwind" if they are in place.

    The confusing part is coming close to Shoreline without acknowledged extensions on an extend instruction and basically being boxed in with no good outs. Worse, PAO gets busy enough that interjecting a timely question can become impossible. (This is especially true when being asked to extend, of course.) Even more confusing is that "I'll call you base" is also a common instruction that may or may not be included with "extend downwind". (So, by not saying that, do you mean I should turn base at my discretion?) Often the instructions come abeam the numbers, with what looks like plenty of time. So, you may not worry too much about it yet or ask for clarification, because it doesn't seem to matter. Then...that invisible wall starts looming and you're hoping some instruction comes soon in the flurry of instructions being sent out as the controller attempts to keep the very busy pattern in line.

    Eh, I don't know where I'm going with this other than to indicate it's a common issue.