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5 Answers

VFR Departures

Asked by: 1719 views Airspace, FAA Regulations

Assume VFR: What is the proper altitude to turn after departure from a towered airport? Is it 1000 AGL or something different? If ATC tells me when to turn after departure I will comply and that is easy to understand. But if cleared for takeoff and not given any turn instruction, what is the appropriate AGL turn point?

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5 Answers

  1. Chris on Jul 02, 2013

    400ft for a diverse departure

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  2. Mark Kolber on Jul 02, 2013

    Unless Tower is giving you an instruction on when to turn, it’s up to you just as it is at a nontowered airport.

    The 400′ for Chris mentions is based on an IFR consideration – unless there is a published instrument procedure that requires something different, IFR terrain and obstacle clearance is guaranteed for a turn once at least 400′ over the departure end of the runway (and maintaining a certain climb rate after that). But that’s not an issue for VFR pilots.

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  3. Dan Chitty on Jul 02, 2013

    Thank you all for the feedback.

    To expand further, I found that AIM 4-3-2 discusses airports with control towers and mentions the departure leg (excerpt below). Assume I am a VFR only pilot (not IFR rated). Should I turn within 300 feet of traffic pattern altitude assuming ATC does not request for me to turn before this altitude?

    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.

    Let me know your thoughts. I want to make sure I am interpreting the AIM properly.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Jul 03, 2013

    I think you’re trying to read too much into it. All the AIM is doing here is looking at a standard traffic pattern and telling you what the various components are called.

    There’s no regulatory significance to it and it doesn’t define when you are allowed to turn; it just means that until you reach at least 300′ AGL and are at least 1/2 mile away from the departure end of the airport, you are technically considered to be within the traffic pattern on the departure leg of the traffic pattern.

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  5. Dan Chitty on Jul 03, 2013

    Thank you for the feedback.

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