DescriptionThe traffic pattern is used to create an orderly flow of traffic for airplanes arriving, departing and operating in the vicinity of airports. The pattern consists of arrival to and departure from an airport while performing pilot duties.
ObjectiveUnderstand how to conduct safe and efficient traffic pattern operations at controlled and uncontrolled airports.Procedure• Obtain airport information. Listen to automated weather, look for segmented circle with wind indicators, or contact CTAF to determine active runway.• Prepare for pattern entry. Visualize pattern entry and complete before landing checklist.• Enter the pattern. Use a 45° path to approach the midpoint of the airport towards the downwind leg at pattern altitude (typically 1000 AGL).• Downwind leg. Fly parallel to the runway. At midfield apply carb heat and reduce throttle to 2,000 RPM and allow the aircraft to slow to 80 KIAS. Maintain pattern altitude with gradual increase in pitch and trim until abeam intended touchdown point, then begin a descent by decreasing power to 1500 RPM and maintain 80 KIAS. Flaps may be added to 10° when below (85 KIAS). Trim the aircraft.• Base leg. When the intended touchdown point is approximately 45° behind the aircraft position make a 90° turn toward the runway. Add flaps to 20° and continue descent while pitching and trimming to slow to 70 KIAS.• Final leg. Maintain 70 KIAS and make a 90° turn toward the runway, aligning the plane with the extended runway centerline. Add flaps to 30° or 40° depending on the type of landing if needed. Pitch and trim for 60 KIAS. Broadcast “touch and go” or “full stop” on CTAF if at an uncontrolled airport. “Heels on the floor and back” must be verbalized by the pilot flying on short final or go-around must be initiated.• Departure leg. Climb at desired airspeed on runway heading until you are beyond the departure end of the runway.• Depart the pattern. Continue climb on departure leg if departing straight out. If an offset/crosswind departure is desired, continue climb and extend departure before exiting. If downwind departure is desired, maintain pattern altitude until clear of the airport environment.• Closed traffic. For continued laps in the traffic pattern continue climb on departure leg to at least 300 feet below traffic pattern altitude.• Crosswind leg. Make a 90° turn away from the airport on the departure leg to the crosswind leg and continue climb to traffic pattern altitude.
ACS Standards• Properly identify and interpret airport runways, taxiways, markings, signs, and lighting.• Comply with recommended traffic pattern procedures• Correct for wind drift to maintain proper ground track.• Maintain orientation with the runway/landing area in use.• Maintain traffic pattern altitude +/-100 feet, and appropriate airspeed +/-10 knots.• Maintain situational awareness and proper spacing from other aircraft in the traffic pattern.