Downwind to Base

Sidious

Well-Known Member
I received an email from my school about an issue that has come up numerous times about turning downwind to base and then being yelled at for doing so before being "Cleared"

Its my understanding that we should fly a normal pattern and that we do not need to be "Cleared" to be on any section of the traffic pattern.

What should we as pilots say when this is happening in the air?

Heres the email

Instructors:

Two or three months ago we were being scolded by tower for turning base before being cleared for landing. I took the issue up with -------, the ----- Tower Manager, and he informed me that pilots should fly a normal pattern with common sense (his words), turn base at the proper spacing if doing so does not present a conflict with other traffic, and query the tower for clearance before landing if clearance has not been received. Mr. ------ spoke with the controllers and things were OK for a while.

During the last couple of weeks pilots have been scolded for turning base before they were *sequenced*. Being *sequenced* is not the same as being *cleared*, but semantics aside, the controllers intent seemed to be inconsistent with Mr. ------ previous instructions.

Monday morning I talked with Mr. ------ again and provided an event date and time for tape review. He reaffirmed his previous position and added that if a controller wants a pilot to extend downwind the controller must issue that instruction. Mr. ------ committed to review the tape and follow up with the controller involved.

I encourage instructors and pilots who have questions or concerns to talk with Mr. -----. I have found him to be thoroughly professional and genuinely interested in providing good service.
 

tgrayson

New Member
What should we as pilots say when this is happening in the air?
Hard to win an argument in the air with a controller. Whenever something like that comes up, I will follow up with a phone call to the facility and speak with a supervisor, if possible. While flying, it's best to just suck up the scoldings and not take it personally.

Overall, I find such idiosyncrasies to be rare, but some controllers have mistaken ideas, just like pilots do. I'm gratified that your school is making an effort to fix the problem, rather than instituting a new policy for all pilots to demand clearance to turn base.
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
If you are not cleared to land you should not be turning base, IMHO. If you turn base you will ultimately cut across the Final leg. You never know if a jet is approaching on a straight in 5 miles out and has not been handed off to the landing controller yet. The landing controller knows he is there, but you do not. If you hear that others have been sequence in and you are not cleared to land yet, simply call tower and ask, "Tower, is it ok if 12345 turns base?" If he says no, he has his reasons, if he says yes, you will avoid all future scoldings.

With that said, if you check in midfield as you are supposed to, thats how I was taught and what my controllers expect anyway, he should give further instructions. Cleared to land, continue downwind, Cessna on left base advise in sight cleared to land, make a right 360 for spacing. In my mind only one is clearance to turn base and that is the cleared to land. Anything else and I have something to do before I turn base, once that is done, I should check in with the controller for clearance to proceed to landing.
 

970Flyer

Well-Known Member
This was always an issue in Daytona on 7R/25L. That runway was "always" stacked with aircraft. If I remember correctly, we were expected to fly a normal pattern and follow the traffic in front of us. If the tower wanted us to extend downwind to bring in addition traffic on an extended final, or if someone was joining the midfield downwind then they would advise and give instructions to follow the joining traffic.

We always advised ATC if we were going to practice a manuever which required anything other than a "normal" pattern.

More than anything, keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut (no teaching) when it gets super busy. When that was the case I would teach on the ground while waiting for our next take-off.
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
Can you justify that with any published FAA reference?
91.113G
"Landing aircraft while on final approach to land or while landing have the right of way over aircraft flying or on the ground"

If you are not cleared to land and there is another aircraft who is, you must give way to them. This means not cutting across their intended path of flight, aka final. I feel it is safest to wait until I am cleared to land before turning base so there is not chance of this.

4-3-5
"...Controllers establish the sequencing of arriving and departing aircraft by requiring them to adjust flight as necessary to achieve proper spacing. These adjustments can only be based on observed traffic, accurate pilot reports, and anticipated aircraft maneuvers. Pilots are are expected to cooperate so as to preclude disrupting traffic flows and creating conflicting patterns..."

Turning base before cleared to land in my experience is an unexpected maneuver, and as stated by the ATC's letter to the school, they see it the same way. Turning base before cleared to land also creates a conflicting traffic patter for anyone who might be on a long final or on a right base if you are flying left downwind turning left base.


An unnecessary radio call, unless Tower has informed you that it will call your base, or asks you to extend.
FAR 91.123 "When a pilot is uncertain of an ATC clearance, the pilot shall immediately request clarification from ATC"

If you are not cleared to land and know that they do not like you turning base prior to their consent in my mind that qualifies as uncertainty. A call for clarification is the best course of action.



As we know though, this situation could be different at different airports. The field I fly out of and the controlled fields I have flown into always request I report midfield when flying the pattern or report a specific position when entering. From there further instructions are given. My tower guys/girls are great and always keep me up to speed on what is going on. I know that if they say look for traffic cleared to land, they expect me to report traffic in sight and they then will clear me to turn base maintaining visual separation. Anything else but cleared to land and they like us to stay on down wind. A controllers instructions supersede the "suggested pattern operations" in the AIM.
 

tgrayson

New Member
91.113G
"Landing aircraft while on final approach to land or while landing have the right of way over aircraft flying or on the ground"
Not applicable. No one suggests turning in front of another airplane.

You're working too hard to maintain a misunderstanding you have regarding pattern operations at towered airports, rather than learning from the situation. Being cleared to land does not guarantee you protection from avoiding other aircraft nor relieve you of your obligations regarding right-of-way.

Moreover, you misread the letter posted. It's not even a letter from ATC to the school, it's an email from the school to flight instructors, and it points out that the tower manager said the controller erred in requiring a landing clearance to turn base. The tower manager said:

he informed me that pilots should fly a normal pattern with common sense (his words), turn base at the proper spacing if doing so does not present a conflict with other traffic, and query the tower for clearance before landing if clearance has not been received
The tower manager is correct and everyone else agrees with him. Eventually, you will too, either real soon, or in a year or two. ;)
 

MikeFavinger

Hubschrauber Flieger
Hey Matt - good on you for digging into the regs and trying to make sense of it all. That's a fantastic way to learn.

When tgrayson responds and takes you to school on this one, that'll be a great way to learn as well. ;)

(BTW - be careful with these types of statements...)

Turning base before cleared to land in my experience is an unexpected maneuver,
Edit: Dang! Taylor beat be!
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
Not applicable. No one suggests turning in front of another airplane.

You're working too hard to maintain a misunderstanding you have regarding pattern operations at towered airports, rather than learning from the situation. Being cleared to land does not guarantee you protection from avoiding other aircraft nor relieve you of your obligations regarding right-of-way.

Moreover, you misread the letter posted. It's not even a letter from ATC to the school, it's an email from the school to flight instructors, and it points out that the tower manager said the controller erred in requiring a landing clearance to turn base. The tower manager said:

he informed me that pilots should fly a normal pattern with common sense (his words), turn base at the proper spacing if doing so does not present a conflict with other traffic, and query the tower for clearance before landing if clearance has not been received
The tower manager is correct and everyone else agrees with him. Eventually, you will too, either real soon, or in a year or two. ;)
I took "During the last couple of weeks pilots have been scolded for turning base before they were *sequenced*. Being *sequenced* is not the same as being *cleared*, but semantics aside, the controllers intent seemed to be inconsistent with Mr. ------ previous instructions." to mean they were turning base while others were sequenced in ahead of them and it could make for unsafe operation.

I have never worked with a controller who upon the mid field position report or pattern entry point call up never gave me a cleared to land, number two behind Lear on right base advise in sight or extend down wind I will call base reply. If a controller did not reply or simply acknowledged my call I would request further instructions. Maybe I am being overly cautious but that is my nature.

Thanks for the clarification though. I am certain I will come upon a controller who does not work how I am accustomed. Better to be proven incorrect on a forum than to fly 6 miles away from an airport on downwind due to a misunderstanding of how I should operate.



Hey Matt - good on you for digging into the regs and trying to make sense of it all. That's a fantastic way to learn.

When tgrayson responds and takes you to school on this one, that'll be a great way to learn as well. ;)

(BTW - be careful with these types of statements...)



Edit: Dang! Taylor beat be!
Yeah, I knew he would respond, his initial question to me was an obvious bait. I would rather respond with what I feel to be correct and be shown the error of my ways than continue on as if I know everything. Its how we become better pilots right.

And your right, I should not expect something to be so just because past experiences would suggest it to be.
 

minitour

New Member
Hey Matt - good on you for digging into the regs and trying to make sense of it all. That's a fantastic way to learn.

When tgrayson responds and takes you to school on this one, that'll be a great way to learn as well. ;)
Agreed.

You fly your normal pattern unless told otherwise, "N123 extend your downwind I'll call your base traffic eleven o clock 3 miles a learjet on 4 mile final, report him in sight".

Otherwise, once I'm in the pattern I should know my sequence either by being told or just by paying attention on the radio. "N123 cleared visual approach enter the left downwind you're following the 737 twelve o clock and 5 miles spacing is good contact the tower now 132.7". That's probably a good indication to turn base when you can follow the 737 with good spacing. If tower wants to amend that, they will.

If they b!tch for turning base when they didn't "clear" you to, there's no such clearance.

...this wasn't the CPS lady, was it? PM is fine if you don't want to post that publicly.

-mini
 

chrisatc

New Member
I received an email from my school about an issue that has come up numerous times about turning downwind to base and then being yelled at for doing so before being "Cleared"

Its my understanding that we should fly a normal pattern and that we do not need to be "Cleared" to be on any section of the traffic pattern. Your understanding is correct. If the controller wants anything other than a normal pattern he must tell you.

What should we as pilots say when this is happening in the air? You cannot win the argument over the radio. So comply with this particular controller's wishes. Ask him over and over again if he is ready for you to turn base. One of the rules of air traffic control is...the best way to get rid of a bad procedure is to use it!
Heres the email

Instructors:

Two or three months ago we were being scolded by tower for turning base before being cleared for landing. I took the issue up with -------, the ----- Tower Manager, and he informed me that pilots should fly a normal pattern with common sense (his words), turn base at the proper spacing if doing so does not present a conflict with other traffic, and query the tower for clearance before landing if clearance has not been received. Mr. ------ spoke with the controllers and things were OK for a while.

During the last couple of weeks pilots have been scolded for turning base before they were *sequenced*. Being *sequenced* is not the same as being *cleared*, but semantics aside, the controllers intent seemed to be inconsistent with Mr. ------ previous instructions.

Monday morning I talked with Mr. ------ again and provided an event date and time for tape review. He reaffirmed his previous position and added that if a controller wants a pilot to extend downwind the controller must issue that instruction. Mr. ------ committed to review the tape and follow up with the controller involved.

I encourage instructors and pilots who have questions or concerns to talk with Mr. -----. I have found him to be thoroughly professional and genuinely interested in providing good service.
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
According to whom?

There is no requirement to report midfield unless ATC tells you to report midfield.
Yes and as I said, I have yet to fly at an airport that did not require those in the pattern or those entering the pattern not to report at a certain point. As IanJ pointed out, I was using my limited experiences and thinking they applied at all controlled field operations.

It was my mistake.

However, regardless of the lack of a regulation I will continue to report midfield if in the pattern if asked to or not. I prefer to ask for clearance to land before I turn to base.
 

minitour

New Member
Yes and as I said, I have yet to fly at an airport that did not require those in the pattern or those entering the pattern not to report at a certain point. As IanJ pointed out, I was using my limited experiences and thinking they applied at all controlled field operations.

It was my mistake.

However, regardless of the lack of a regulation I will continue to report midfield if in the pattern if asked to or not. I prefer to ask for clearance to land before I turn to base.
Sometimes you may not have a choice.

"N123 continue landing clearance short final two to depart prior to your arrival"

IOW "Sorry, Charlie I'm not clearing you to land 3 miles out."

-mini
 

aloft

New Member
However, regardless of the lack of a regulation I will continue to report midfield if in the pattern if asked to or not. I prefer to ask for clearance to land before I turn to base.
Um, you do realize that this isn't one of those "make it up as you go" sorts of fields, right? Don't clog up the frequency needlessly man, just don't.
 

SeeYA@GFK

Well-Known Member
Um, you do realize that this isn't one of those "make it up as you go" sorts of fields, right? Don't clog up the frequency needlessly man, just don't.
Agreed. If the controller didn't give you anything to report then don't. If your getting close to base then I'd give a call asking if your suppose to follow anyone or just request a landing clearance. We know your inbound and what your suppose to do as in pattern entry and once the controller has you in sight he/she should hand out the landing clearance.
 

aloft

New Member
And if he/she doesn't, a simple "confirm Cessna 123 is cleared to land?" on base leg (or even final) will do.
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
Sometimes you may not have a choice.

"N123 continue landing clearance short final two to depart prior to your arrival"

IOW "Sorry, Charlie I'm not clearing you to land 3 miles out."

-mini
Um, you do realize that this isn't one of those "make it up as you go" sorts of fields, right? Don't clog up the frequency needlessly man, just don't.

Agreed. If the controller didn't give you anything to report then don't. If your getting close to base then I'd give a call asking if your suppose to follow anyone or just request a landing clearance. We know your inbound and what your suppose to do as in pattern entry and once the controller has you in sight he/she should hand out the landing clearance.
I was more talking about when doing pattern work. But if entering the pattern my thought process is I would prefer to stay ahead of the situation.

If I initially call up 10 miles out and you acknowledge me, tell me to enter a left base but give no reporting position I still need clearance to land. I know you are not going to forget you have an inbound aircraft but I see no harm in calling up 1 mile out instead of calling up on short final, unless told to expect clearance on short final.

I do not make unnecessary calls I just don't like to wait until the last moment to get cleared to land. I don't give a detailed report simply "Tower 12345, left downwind touch/go 24" or "Tower 12345 left base for 24"


For the record, I am not trying to be argumentative. I am just trying to learn what is generally accepted and what is not.

I have grown used to being instructed to report midfield and even when not instructed I still do, it is what I was taught by my instructors. It was and still is a way for me to keep ahead of the situation which I think is essential for a low time pilot like myself. There are numerous times where I was flying the pattern or given a down wind entry and while flying I hear another, faster aircraft, is approaching from the opposite direction or given opposite down wind. I could, since not told to report, fly and then turn base and ask for landing clearance. But knowing others are out there I call midfield or when entering the pattern where told to I will call up.

I don't have much C experience, I fly out of a D. My limited experience with a C was that approach vectors you around and then switches you to tower. Do some C's not have approaches? Do some act like D's meaning approach will just say enter at a certain point in the pattern then contact the tower when doing so?
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
in this particular scenario, the only thing you need clearance to do is land....if the controller wants you to do anything other than a standard pattern they should tell you. it wouldnt hurt to say something like "tower N345 turing (right or left) base, (full stop, or touch and go) runway XX" as a friendly reminder if they havent said anything yet
 
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