Scratching head- Traffic patterns are non-regulatory???

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Jaybird180, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. Jaybird180

    Jaybird180 Final Approach

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    https://www.faa.gov/documentlibrary/media/advisory_circular/ac_90-66b.pdf
    Section 8.2.1 of the above AC clearly states that traffic patterns are not regulated. This is blowing my mind. I arrived here after reading another message where the owner of a public use airport is advising to make left (standard) traffic to approach a runway for favoring winds, where it has been long standing (tradition?) to make right traffic to that runway because of the adjacent parallel airport on that side of the field. Collision avoidance 101: Don't be where another aircraft could be.

    I distinctly recall (but can't find) that it should be in FAR 91 that the printed chart direction is regulatory. This airport has RP on the VFR sectional to that runway.

    Please help me to recall correctly.
     
  2. amox

    amox Filing Flight Plan

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    91.126(b)(1) says that

    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;

    Is there a segmented circle with right traffic noted for that runway?
     
  3. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Note that it does not require you to fly a full traffic pattern either... Enter straight in - legal, enter on left base - also legal.
     
  4. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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  5. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    Don't forget the "bad airmanship" catch-all. Circuit/pattern entries aren't regulatory, but they're still a set of recommended best practices in both Canada and the U.S.

    It's OK to deviate with a good reason, but don't deviate just because you don't care or because you want to prove to everyone that there's no regulation stopping you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
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  6. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    And that is done rather loosely.
     
  7. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    So there have to be the visual markings in the U.S. — right traffic isn't published in your A&FD?

    The way I know whether a runway at an uncontrolled airport has right traffic is simply by looking at its entry in the CFS.
     
  8. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    It is published in the AFD. And usually shown on the sectional chart. The problem is, 91.126 only references right traffic being required if there are visual symbols on the ground. At one of my local airports, there are not, though the AFD and chart have "RP 18" published. So is a right pattern to 18 required? Heck if I know, seems to be a hole in the regulation. Almost everybody flies right traffic to that runway, of course, but every once in a while we have a scofflaw saying "it's not regulatory."
     
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  9. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    I think you mean d-CS.
     
  10. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    §91.126 Operating on or in the vicinity of an airport in Class G airspace.
    (a) General. Unless otherwise authorized or required...
     
  11. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    What airport?
     
  12. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    I would say that is not in conflict... that means as someone pointed out that you may enter the traffic pattern straight in, or you can enter on a left base, midfield left turn to downwind...as long as Any turns (flow) is to the left, or right if designated.

    Two key words I think are being equated but should t be: entry and flow.

    left hand flow (or right if designated) is a rule, however where you enter that pattern is not regulatory...
     
  13. farmrjohn

    farmrjohn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    From 91.126: "…to the left unless the airport displays approved light signals or visual markings indicating that turns should be made to the right…" That does not specifically say displayed on the ground. One could make the argument that the airport is "displaying" visual markings in print, either on charts or in the published airport information.
     
  14. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    While I agree with the end result, that's just too much of a logic gap for me, and were it ever to become an issue in an NTSB appeal, I doubt it would work. I'm required to display my license plate on my car, but that doesn't mean I can "display" it inside my trunk.
     
  15. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Maybe not. It's the AFD section of the CS.
     
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  16. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Exactly. It's just saying you can enter the pattern multiple ways, IOW, every pattern entry does not have to be a 45 to downwind.
     
  17. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    AFD is still a valid reference.

    upload_2021-3-3_6-38-17.png
     
  18. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well put.
     
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  19. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    It took us to post 18 and nobody mentioned that if you fly a teardrop-to-45-to-downwind, you will not only endanger yourself and others in the pattern, but you will kill all puppies and baby bunnies in a 100 nm radius? Some find this maneuver is more dangerous than doing < 1g rolls in a rented pa28 Warrior.

    Or that overflying midfield and then direct entry to the downwind is equally dangerous and should never ever be performed by any pilot, not even Bob Hoover?

    Overhead breaks?? anyone, anyone?? C'mon there are RV pilots here, right?

    And no raging debate about how straight-in ain't illegal and imma do it anyway even if there are 8 law abiding 172s in the pattern doing t&gs flying 30 knots on a bomber pattern final??

    Disappointed in PoA this morning. This is a thread about TRAFFIC PATTERNS, people!
     
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  20. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Context matters in this discussion. The OP didn’t mention but he’s referring to Potomac Airfield, VKX. The airport manager sent out a communique yesterday that said:
    • RUNWAY 24 - Right Traffic
      But...If strong north wind,
      It can be MUCH easier to use left traffic base to final 24
      Monitor 122.8 for Wash Exec traffic, say intent
    If you take a look at VKX on a VFR sectional, you’ll see it’s pretty unique, airspace-wise. It's located in a notch of the Washington DC Class B surface area, just 4 nm from Joint Base Andrews, home of AF1 and company. The notch leaves limited space to fly a wide or deep right pattern for runway 24. The reason it is right pattern is that W32 (Washington Exec Hyde Field) is just 1nm east and is left pattern for its runway 23. This has been the case for years, well before 9/11 changed things.

    When the wind blows strong out of the west (note that the message above says north, but if the winds are out of the north you’d do a straight in for runway 6; I think he meant west), it is very difficult to enter the right downwind to 24 and not get blown across the final for 24. In those circumstances it is much easier (and safer) to enter the downwind to runway 23 at W32, extend your left base across the final of 23, and turn left onto final for runway 24 at VKX, It helps that both airports are on the same CTAF, and no NORDOs exist inside the DC Flight Restriction Area.

    I am not going to weigh in on whether its legal, whether I've done it in the past, etc., but logically it makes much more sense.
     

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  21. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You gotta (oops! "must") love it when the Language Police are wrong :D
     
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  22. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    Irony noted. :)

    The important thing is that we're all behaving predictably and (as much as possible) doing the same thing, so when I'm flying in VMC to an uncontrolled field in Canada, I usually do an overhead entry to mid-downwind — as recommended by Transport Canada — and when I'm flying in VMC to an uncontrolled field in the U.S., I usually do a 45° merge to downwind — as recommended by the FAA.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
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  23. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    In Canada, having the most-recent edition of the CFS on board—paper or electronic—is mandatory (though rarely complied with or enforced), so if the right traffic is in the CFS, then it's — at least, officially — available to every pilot flying in Canadian airspace (note I haven't verified in the CARS; just going by what I was taught during PPL training).

    I'm guessing having the AFD on board isn't mandatory in the U.S., so they had to come up with regulations to ensure that someone without a copy on board would still know what direction to fly their pattern by looking at a segmented circle, special lighting, etc.

    Side note: in the old days (OK, 10 years ago) most Canadian private pilots did have a paper CFS on board, but it could be months or even years out of date. Now, you can get PDF versions of most sections of the CFS for free via FltPlan Go, and PDFs of at least the airport pages via Garmin Pilot or (I'll assume) ForeFlight with a subscription for Canadian data, so we're probably more up-to-date than we ever were before.
     
  24. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Hmmm...the center lines of the two airports are nearly a mile apart. If the wind is blowing hard, just make your right downwind a little wider. The instructions are to fly a right downwind, you ought to be able to do that in almost any wind.

    The owner is correct that it is easier to flying a base into the wind, but that isn't an authorization to ignore the pattern.
     
  25. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    It is not expressly required to carry an AFD or CS with you, but there is a catch-all regulation that requires you to become familiar with "all available information". Which carrying and referring to the CS can help to accomplish but is not necessarily sufficient in itself.
     
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  26. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Ah.
    Ha. I'll be moving back into my own lane now.:blush:
     
  27. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    It should be published in the "A/FD" and on the sectional but, by regulation, it is the visual markings which are controlling. It is up to each airport's manager to ensure that the published sources are correct.

    Airport managers aren't perfect, and sometimes there are discrepancies. In 30+ years I've twice found such discrepancies and pointed them out to the airport manager so that they could be corrected. In both case, the airport manager did not know that, by regulation, it was the visual markings which were controlling.
     
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  28. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The crosswind to downwind has (finally) been accepted by the FAA as a legitimate pattern entry.
     
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  29. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    You've clearly never flown here, lol. A wider right downwind puts you right up against the northern perimeter of the notch. Considering this border is observed in real time by USSS and TSA, we give it as wide a berth as possible.
     
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  30. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    Hold on loosely.
     
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  31. Jaybird180

    Jaybird180 Final Approach

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    In context, isn’t it like
    Potayto < > Potahtoe?
     
  32. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    That is a bit on the tight side. Even tighter for 23 landings at W32
     
  33. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    In Canada we have this Regulation:

    • 602.96 (1) This section applies to persons operating VFR or IFR aircraft at or in the vicinity of an uncontrolled or controlled aerodrome.
    • (2) Before taking off from, landing at or otherwise operating an aircraft at an aerodrome, the pilot-in-command of the aircraft shall be satisfied that
      • (a) there is no likelihood of collision with another aircraft or a vehicle; and
      • (b) the aerodrome is suitable for the intended operation.
    • (3) The pilot-in-command of an aircraft operating at or in the vicinity of an aerodrome shall
      • (a) observe aerodrome traffic for the purpose of avoiding a collision;
      • (b) conform to or avoid the pattern of traffic formed by other aircraft in operation;

      • (c) make all turns to the left when operating within the aerodrome traffic circuit, except where right turns are specified by the Minister in the Canada Flight Supplement or where otherwise authorized by the appropriate air traffic control unit;
      • So no, we can't just do what we want. We either conform to the pattern in use or go somewhere else.
     
  34. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    I find this to be an extremely interesting-worded regulation.

    Two oddities:
    1. you must "conform to OR avoid the pattern of traffic". I suppose what it means is "conform to the pattern of traffic if you're going to land, or stay away from the pattern if you're just passing by", but if the airport was left traffic, and you flew right traffic, wouldn't that also be a form of "avoiding the pattern of traffic"? Similar to the U.S. regulation that helicopters must "avoid" the fixed-wind traffic pattern, and that is often accomplished by flying the opposite pattern direction.
    2. What is the relative priority of B vs C? If you show up to an airport that should be left traffic, but there is someone doing right traffic (for unknown reasons, and perhaps in violation of the regulation), are you required to comply with B and "conform to the pattern of traffic" or comply with C and "make all turns to the left"? Are you in violation one way or the other?

    We have debated the meaning of just about every U.S. regulation ad nauseum on this forum. I guess it's only fair that we debate some Canadian regulations too!
     
  35. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    It's tight for runway 23 landings at W32 when the winds are strong out of the south/south east. That's a pretty unusual condition though, usually winds are westerly.

    I also get the sense that we get a bit more leeway on nudging up against the eastern wall of the notch compared to the northern wall. The northern wall puts you closer to the USSS defended Capitol, AF1 hangar, etc., but the eastern wall puts you closer to northbound arrivals to ADW. ATC is pretty good about deconflicting arrriving traffic with visual separation. The ATC folks know it's a tight maneuvering area in there, and will call out inbound ADW traffic before switching you over to CTAF.
     
  36. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    LOL. Maybe we could rename it "Pilots of (North) America" and debate Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean regulations too.

    FWIW, I didn't read "avoid" as in "go away to another airport", but as in "don't conflict with the flow of traffic".

    I don't suppose TC publishes legal opinions from their Chief Counsel?
     
  37. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    I was replying to the post by a Canadian pilot that said that these were recommendations. They aren't. Not in Canada. I've seen a Transport inspector ticket a pilot for failing to comply with these. Furthermore, if you fly into Canada you Americans need to know these things. When we flew into the US we had to comply with the US requirements.
     
  38. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    If the CFS calls for a RH pattern, that's what's legal. Otherwise it's a LH pattern. Coming in and following someone on the wrong pattern isn't right, either. You never know what other pilot might be crossing center field and not watching for traffic on the wrong side. I nearly had a midair once due to that.
     
  39. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    I believe you. Can you provide any detail on the meaning of (b) in that regulation? Does Canada publish anything similar to the FAA's Chief Counsel Interpretations, which try to clarify the regulations and possibly provide explanatory information?
     
  40. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    In some of the Regulations and Standards they have "Information Notes" that isn't regulatory, but helps clear up some fuzziness. This section regarding circuits doesn't have any such material attached to it. The section of the Standards dealing with aircraft maintenance is full of this Information Notes stuff: https://tc.canada.ca/en/corporate-s...rds/part-v-standard-571-maintenance-0#571s_02

    As far as anything like Chief Counsel stuff, we've been asking for that for years, particularly in maintenance, but have never seen any action. At least 12 years ago they promised that they were setting up a system whereby significant questions would be forwarded to Ottawa for interpretation, then the answers would be disseminated to all TC offices so that the regs were applied uniformly across the country. Never saw anything. You can ask an interpretation question of inspectors at ten different offices and get five different answers. Maybe more. Maybe more than one interpretation from the same office.