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Right Traffic Or Left Traffic?  
User currently offlineOmegous From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 293 posts, RR: 2
Posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 12601 times:

How does one determine what traffic pattern is the standard for a runway? if two are parralel (say 9R and 9L) what would be "standard" for each?

How do you determine if one is on a left traffic pattern or a right traffic pattern?

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinePPGMD From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 2453 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 12596 times:

First thing to remember if it isn't indicated or told to your traffic is assumed to be left pattern (tough watch out anywhere, alot of people just make up their own pattern). Well the first place to look is at the windsock, is there a segmented circle indicator, that will tell you the traffic if its non standard. Next check the AFD (I think, double check that), finally listen to the ATIS/AWOS. Now in some cases ATC will also give you the pattern type instructions.

At worst, you screw up and die.
User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 12595 times:

Unless otherwise noted, the standard traffic pattern at uncontrolled fields uses left-hand turns. Many airports will have what is called a "segmented circle" around the windsock. This will also show the direction of turns in the traffic pattern. Also, on sectional charts and the airport/facilaties directory the text "RP" in the airport information section designates right traffic and the runways that use it.

You can ignore all of that, however, at a controlled field, where the controller will tell you where they want you "report left base 32" or "enter right downwind 4L"

Hope this helps, also, don't be afraid to ask your instructor too, that's what he/she is there for.

- Mike

Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 12588 times:

Above is correct...The Airport/Facility Directory (AFD) "the green book" details if you should use right traffic.

How do you determine if one is on a left traffic pattern or a right traffic pattern?

Ask yourself which direction are you making your turns. If you are making left turns, you are in a left-hand pattern (left crosswind, left downwind, left base), and if you are making right turns, you are in right-hand pattern (right crosswind, right downwind, right base). Please don't say "left final" or "right final", that always cracks me up.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineWhiskeyflyer From Ireland, joined May 2002, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 12564 times:

as mentioned LH the most common, unless otherwise advised by ATC
As you fly along LH cross wind etc you can see the runway (very important on un manned fields, to see if anybody..that being aircraft, people, animals etc on runway etc)Otherwise books of airfield info will specify, sometimes there are restrictions due to housing nearby (airport neighbours get upset when people fly overhead on their Sunday morning) or restricted airspace.
Also common sense.......if you approch and find out three microlight trikes on LH downwind, you do the RH circuit pattern, we do this quiet often on unmanned airfields.....we cannot go slow enough to join in behind them

User currently offlineTurbineBeaver From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 12546 times:

Standard patterns are left hand.

Check the AFD or Sectional, and it will specify if it is a righthand pattern.


User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1741 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 12528 times:

In your case of 9L and 9R, just use your noggin. Would it make sense to have departing traffic turning head-on into each other and would it be logical to have arriving traffic flying head-on on base and dodging over and under each other to get to final? Maybe in mainland China but hardly anywhere else.

Typically, 9L would be left traffic and 9R would be right traffic. On departure, two aircraft would be turning away from each other or flying parallel. On arrival, two aircraft would be approaching head on but turning final way before they got close (hopefully) or flying parallel straight-ins. The latter case can lead to some interesting comments in the passenger cabin if, for example, the plane bound for 9L is flying a long straight-in final and the plane bound for 9R is on base leg and headed directly towards the one bound for 9L.

Runway spacing and sidestep approaches mess this up a bit, so be alert and pay attention to what the tower controller is telling you. Reading back the tower instructions is a good way to make sure that you understand what's happening. You might get something like the following if inbound straight in to, say, 9R: "Cessna 123, you're number 2 to land behind the Citation sidestepping from ILS runway niner left." Be sure to tell the controller whether or not you see the Citation; for example, "Roger, 123 has the Citation" or "123, no joy on the Citation." Remember that the Citation is probably below you and can be lost in ground clutter or haze so keep up with its position.

User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 12512 times:

Another tip is to tune in the tower or unicom frequency a little ways out so that you can start to get a feel for the amount of traffic that's in the area. It all boils down to increasing your situational awareness and as 30E said, using your noggin.

User currently offlineTurbineBeaver From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (13 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 12496 times:

Thirty Echo, that is true, but not always. Sometimes even parallels have the same traffic patterns, because of a Aerobatic Box on the side of the field, or something.


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