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VFR departure from non-towered airport

pilotyip

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The airport has a left hand traffic pattern. I want to make a right turn out after departure. How far and at what altitude do I have to be from the airport before I make my right turn? I have been using 1 mile and 300' below the traffic pattern altitude. Whats more I have been teaching my students this for 30 years. I was recently told by another CFI that this was not in keeping with proper departure procedures. Any comments?
 
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avbug

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http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim/Chap4/aim0403.html

AIM 4-3-2 describes segments of the traffic pattern, and the departure leg of the traffic pattern as follows:

Departure leg. The flight path which begins after takeoff and continues straight ahead along the extended runway centerline. The departure climb continues until reaching a point at least 1/2 mile beyond the departure end of the runway and within 300 feet of the traffic pattern altitude.

However, the above paragraph does not describe a right-hand exit from a left traffic pattern. The recommended entry, operation in, and exit of a traffic pattern is found in AIM 4-3-3, with diagrams, and is described as follows:

Key to traffic pattern operations

1. Enter pattern in level flight, abeam the midpoint of the runway, at pattern altitude. (1,000' AGL is recommended pattern altitude unless established otherwise. . .)

2. Maintain pattern altitude until abeam approach end of the landing runway on downwind leg.

3. Complete turn to final at least 1/4 mile from the runway.

4. Continue straight ahead until beyond departure end of runway.

5. If remaining in the traffic pattern, commence turn to crosswind leg beyond the departure end of the runway within 300 feet of pattern altitude.

6. If departing the traffic pattern, continue straight out, or exit with a 45 degree turn (to the left when in a left-hand traffic pattern; to the right when in a right-hand traffic pattern) beyond the departure end of the runway, after reaching pattern altitude.

Note that two pattern departures are described: the straight-out deprature, or a 45 degree exit left, in a left hand pattern. From a regulatory perspective, there is no requirement to execute either one, and we all know that crosswind and downwind departures are common at most uncontrolled fields.

The only regulatory requirement for traffic pattern observance comes from 14 CFR Part 91.126, and this stipulate that one must make turns to the left unless otherwise specified, as follows:

§ 91.126 Operating on or in the vicinity of an airport in Class G airspace.

(a) General. Unless otherwise authorized or required, each person operating an aircraft on or in the vicinity of an airport in a Class G airspace area must comply with the requirements of this section.
(b) 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; and

The regulation here could be worded just a little better, particularly 91.126(a), which states "on or in the vicinity of an airport." This suggests by construction of language that the regulation applies not only to the airport traffic pattern, but to aircraft on the airport (as opposed to over it)...and we know very well that making only left hand turns while on the surface is not only an extreme inconvenience but in many cases a physical impossibility.

What the regulation does not do is address traffic pattern departures. It simply provides a blanket coverage for operations "in the vicinity of" the airport. "Vicinity" isn't defined in Part 91, or in Part 1. This does suggest that one should leave the vicinity of the airport before executing a turn contrary to the traffic pattern, however. Where left traffic is in play for the runway in use, then one should not be in the vicinity of the airfield if one intends to make a right departure.

From a practical point of view, if one elects to make a right turn on the departure leg, while 300' below the traffic pattern, this places one turning directly into traffic which might be entering the pattern on crosswind leg, or turning from an upwind to a crosswind leg...and climbing directly into that traffic's path. Additionally, if other traffic is approaching the opposing runway (you're departing runway 13, and other traffic is flying a pattern for 31, for example), you're turning into that traffic's pattern.

A good, conservative answer is that per the AIM and the regulation, if you intend to perform a right hand turn, it shouldn't be done below the traffic pattern altitude, and shouldn't be done until one has flown out beyond the vicinity of the airport (eg, left the traffic pattern).
 

pilotyip

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that is the question when is one clear of the traffic pattern to turn right 1 mile, 2 mile?
 

acaTerry

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This was on the test at company recurrent! I think I got it wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

avbug

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As stated previously, no definition of "vicinity" is provided. However, knowing that a one mile traffic pattern isn't uncommon, making the turn at one mile puts you the wrong way in the traffic pattern.

Perhaps a better guideline rather than distance itself, is altitude. Turning 300' below traffic pattern puts you climbing into oncoming traffic, whereas climbing out above traffic and the turning puts you above and away from the traffic pattern. I would submit that not only is distance in DME or miles from the airport part of "vicinity," but so is altitude.
 

pilotyip

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sounds fuzzy

As stated previously, no definition of "vicinity" is provided. However, knowing that a one mile traffic pattern isn't uncommon, making the turn at one mile puts you the wrong way in the traffic pattern.

Perhaps a better guideline rather than distance itself, is altitude. Turning 300' below traffic pattern puts you climbing into oncoming traffic, whereas climbing out above traffic and the turning puts you above and away from the traffic pattern. I would submit that not only is distance in DME or miles from the airport part of "vicinity," but so is altitude.
Sounds pretty fuzzy on what decides vicinity. I am climbing my MGTOW C-150 on a hot day, I am over 2 miles from the field when I reach 300' below pattern altitude, can I make a right turn now, I do not considered myself in the vicinity?
 

avbug

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Yip,

Whereas you're the holder of a master's degree and apparently have shown some penchant for perception on at least a semi-official level at some point, must I really state for the third time that "vicinity" is not defined?

Figure it out.
 

AC560

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The regulation here could be worded just a little better, particularly 91.126(a), which states "on or in the vicinity of an airport." This suggests by construction of language that the regulation applies not only to the airport traffic pattern, but to aircraft on the airport (as opposed to over it).

Aircraft on the ground or aircraft departing while they are in the vicinity of the airport, are not approaching the airport to land. There is no regulation which says if you take off with no intent to land at the departure airport what direction your turns must be (aside from 91.13).
 

pilotyip

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Yip,

Whereas you're the holder of a master's degree and apparently have shown some penchant for perception on at least a semi-official level at some point, must I really state for the third time that "vicinity" is not defined?

Figure it out.
I agree, and we must agree it is fuzzy
 

midlifeflyer

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The airport has a left hand traffic pattern. I want to make a right turn out after departure. How far and at what altitude do I have to be from the airport before I make my right turn? I have been using 1 mile and 300' below the traffic pattern altitude. Whats more I have been teaching my students this for 30 years. I was recently told by another CFI that this was not in keeping with proper departure procedures. Any comments?
Even though not technically "regulatory", the AIM recommendation defines good operating practice and should probably be followed.

If you're IFR, you should also follow the 400' before turn procedure that guaranties obstacle clearance rule before making a turn in any direction. AIM 5-2-8(b)(1).

As has already been pointed out, the 91.126 requirement for left turns is "When approaching to land at an airport without an operating control tower in Class G airspace. and doesn't apply to takeoff.

But I have a question: what did the other CFI says was the proper departure procedure and what was his source?
 

pilotyip

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Cfi

But I have a question: what did the other CFI says was the proper departure procedure and what was his source?

I was flying the B-17 giving rides to passengers from an uncontrolled airport. We took off flew runway heading for about 1.5 to 2 miles and then turned right. After we landed a CFI came up and told me our procedure violated uncontrolled airport procedures. He told me you could not make right turns out of a left hand pattern. He said we had to start a left turn before turning right. I told him we were no longer in the pattern at our position and feel we were in complience at that time by making a right turn. He did not state a source and I thanked him for his concern. I just wanted some others input to this problem. As I said to Avbug, the term "fuzzy" defining vicnity fits here
 
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avbug

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I was looking at this from the standpoint that the FAA wouldn't have two definitions for the same word, right?

Not relevant, as that's an ICAO reference, not an FAA reference.
 

deadstick

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Not relevant, as that's an ICAO reference, not an FAA reference.

Ok, US (NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE INSTRUCTION 10-813
December 19, 2008) reference had a 10 nm circle with a 5 nm doughnut hole.

No need to get snippy. Jeez. The only numerical reference that I have found has been with respect to these weather reports.
 

avbug

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No need to get snippy. Jeez. The only numerical reference that I have found has been with respect to these weather reports.

A statement of fact is not being "snippy."

You won't find a reference, as there is none. The weather reports do not define the regulation, or provide definition regarding airport traffic patterns.
 

SSDD

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I know its not regulatory, but at my company, we treat it the same as Class D. So if we're making a right turn, we go straight out for 5 miles before turning.
 

midlifeflyer

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He did not state a source
...because he didn't have one.
As I said to Avbug, the term "fuzzy" defining vicnity fits here
Except that vicinity is irrelevant to the departure question.

But FWIW, "vicinity" in 91.126 has a situational-based meaning that might loosely be defined as "a distance that has a potential impact on other traffic in the pattern," or, like pornography, "We know it when we see it."

The best example is probably the Alaska Airlines cases. The later of the two is here. http://www.ntsb.gov/alj/O_n_O/docs/AVIATION/3523.PDF The earlier is before the NTSB started posting them on the website, but in the earlier one, the distance was 6 miles.
 

nismo611

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I believe that meteorological conditions apply. If it is in IMC you don't have to worry about conflicts with VFR traffic if it is VMC follow VFR procedures until you are clear of the traffic pattern. Your ATC clearance should specify what heading to enter controlled airspace so it also depends where the controlled airspace begins. avbug can spout out regs all day he is a moron. Some people like avbug and that CFI will come up to you spouting off, who cares what they think!!!! Screw em do what you want as long as it is safe he is a dick and so is avbug.
 

JAFI

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I believe that meteorological conditions apply. If it is in IMC you don't have to worry about conflicts with VFR traffic if it is VMC follow VFR procedures until you are clear of the traffic pattern. Your ATC clearance should specify what heading to enter controlled airspace so it also depends where the controlled airspace begins. avbug can spout out regs all day he is a moron. Some people like avbug and that CFI will come up to you spouting off, who cares what they think!!!! Screw em do what you want as long as it is safe he is a dick and so is avbug.

I beg to differ - See and Avoid REGARDLESS of weather conditions. If your statement was true, how come (when I was on an IFR flight plan) I was normally dodging slow VFR traffic in IMC at Instrument altitudes?

do what you want as long as it is safe

I would like to see your reference or legal interpitation for that statement......

As to who is a dick or a moron, I think you have had enough juice today. Put the juice box back in the fridge and let the sugar wear off before you post any more "intelligent" observations.
 

avbug

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This also begs the question, of course, why one would introduce an incorrect application of IFR procedures, when this thread involves a question founded in giving VFR airplane rides at an uncontrolled field.

Absolutely see and avoid is the rule, and the law.

One is left to wonder how an ATC clearance applies here...seeing as we're discussing VFR uncontrolled flying at an uncontrolled field...and there's no clearance involved.
 
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