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Traffic Pattern At San Francisco  
User currently offlineSoaringadi From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 472 posts, RR: 0
Posted (12 years 1 month 23 hours ago) and read 5250 times:

Hey all you guys.... I've noticed that sometimes sfo is having the standard pattern, while sometimes it's right..... Also I've sometimes noticed that the domestic traffic is right, while most widebodies (747's, 777's, 340's, and mostly intnl.) are on the left pattern.... I don't know if this makes sense at all, but I sure have noticed it.... Does anyone know the details and why that is done ??

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If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going !
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineNWB757300 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (12 years 1 month 16 hours ago) and read 5148 times:

I think it may just be dependent upon where the flight is coming from, like arrivals from the east do right traffic and from the west do left traffic. It also may depend on the noise abatement procedures fro that area, which I am not up to date on...so I couldn't tell you that. Usually left traffic will be for the left runway, and right of course for the right, but thats not mandatory.

User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 66
Reply 2, posted (12 years 1 month 15 hours ago) and read 5099 times:

Have to be a bit more specific here. What runways are in use?

Their preferred configuration seems to be to land simultaneously on 28 Left and Right and to depart (simultaneously if needed) off 01 Left and Right.

Arrivals from southern California will usually be up over Monterey Bay, across the peninsula near Stanford and join the 28 final just outside the San Mateo tollbridge. From the east, they will often arrive over Modesto and pick up the visual over the south end of the bay, near Fremont. In either case they can land on either the left or right runway, traffic permitting.

From the north or northeast they might get routed over the Point Reyes route and do a sort of downwind leg down the middle of San Francisco bay. This could put them on a right downwind for either of the 28s, but most commonly to the right.

Landing on the 01s, is much the same but they angle over to a right base from near Coyote point. For a landing on the 19s, they maneuver over the middle of the bay. In decades of flying into SFO I have never once landed, or even seen a plane land on the 10s though they are occasionally used for departures.

Been a long time (1964) since I landed a light plane (C-210) at SFO. If I remember right, we did an angling downwind at lower height than the air carriers use, to 28R, out over the bay.

PS: The airport was under construction when I first saw it in about 1957 and it is still under construction.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineAs739x From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 6395 posts, RR: 24
Reply 3, posted (12 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 5025 times:

Slamstick did a great jobs explaining that. I'll just add a little. What you refer to as a pattern I assume you mean downwind to base to final legs? If so the only ones that arrive on downwinds are planes coming from the North (Point Reyes VOR). All souther, western and eastern arrival will ebter around the base turn area.

Standard for the arrival from the north is at Pt. Reyes turn left direct SFO VOR. If the Controller want them on right pattern, the downwind over the bay they turn them to a heading of 100 over the city. If they have them on left pattern it not a typical pattern. They fly to the airport then turn right 160. Over Redwood City they turn them left to enter the approach. Looks more like a teardrop entry.

On another note. The only rectangular left traffic pattern you will see being flown is by the EMB-120 of UAX. They will come down at 3,000 over the pennisula. The jets will never fly this pattern due to terrain.

If you see a jet on a left downwind at 5,000 ft, that plane is on a go-around.

Hope this helps


"Some pilots avoid storm cells and some play connect the dots!"
User currently offlineRareBear From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 553 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (12 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 4985 times:

You can find noise abatement procedures for most air carrier airports here:


Illegitimus non carborundum
User currently offlineSean1234 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 411 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (12 years 1 month 7 hours ago) and read 4880 times:

Do they ever land on the 1L/R or take off on 19L/R? I have never seen such an event.


User currently offlineAs739x From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 6395 posts, RR: 24
Reply 6, posted (12 years 1 month 7 hours ago) and read 4830 times:

Sean...do you live around here? They take off 19L/R alot during the winter. As winterstorms come in and the strong wind come from the south they will depart 19's and bank left toward Foster City. The arrival on 1L/R is very rare. 3 times a year at the most. It only happens on clear warm day (nights very very rarely) when we have our Santa Ana type winds. Thats the best in show around here when they do that.


"Some pilots avoid storm cells and some play connect the dots!"
User currently offlineBrodieBrazil From Canada, joined Nov 2003, 88 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (12 years 1 month 6 hours ago) and read 4802 times:

These might be helpful...



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