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4 Answers

Nontowered pattern

Asked by: 1599 views Airspace, FAA Regulations

I know that if other traffic is in the pattern at a non towered filed, that you should monitor CTAF and communicate so as to follow the traffic and not disrupt the traffic flow. However, assume the traffic  is landing on a runway not compatible with wind direction (for example landing with a strong tailwind) as indicated by ASOS/AWOS. If you elect to land opposite of the other traffic (land into the wind), is this considered "disrupting" the traffic flow?

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4 Answers

  1. Kris Kortokrax on Sep 16, 2013

    There is no regulation which requires landing into the wind.

    However, Advisory Circular 90-66A states:

    “Landing and takeoff should be accomplished on the operating runway most nearly aligned into the wind. However, if a secondary runway is used, pilots using the secondary runway should avoid the flow of traffic to the runway most nearly aligned into the wind.”

    Advisory circulars are not regulatory, however should a pilot deviation or accident occur and the cause is operation contrary to an advisory circular recommendation, that could be taken into account in an enforcement action.

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  2. Dan Chitty on Sep 17, 2013

    Thank you Kris for the feedback.

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  3. Tom Kelley on Sep 19, 2013

    Let me start by saying that I am NOT answering from an FAA/FAR perspective, as I am not an expert for those. At the same time, I believe my answer is not in violation of any significant regulations.

    First, if you are concerned about the wind direction, but the wind speed is very low, I would say it is important to just land on the same runway that everyone else is using. This is the practical and safest way to go.

    HOWEVER, if the wind speed is significant, and you are truly concerned about the direction you want to land, I would NOT HESITATE to simply get on the radio, and clearly explain your situation, and suggest a way to get you properly configured for landing in the direction you want to land. My experience is that if you communicate clearly your intentions and reasons, 99.9% of pilots will be happy to work with you and to help you. In this case, for example, you could suggest you let all the traffic already in the pattern to land first, and THEN you would reverse the pattern flow to your intended landing direction. No problem at all, and other pilots would be very understanding. The key here is that YOU always need to decide what is safe for YOU.

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  4. Dan Chitty on Sep 20, 2013


    You make a great point and good examples also. Thank you as well for the feedback.

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