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4 Answers

TPA (Traffic Pattern Altitude) in Class C and A/FD

Asked by: 7998 views Airspace, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

I was searching for the TPA in the A/FD for the main airport within Class C, and I could not find it. So I was puzzled for awhile not knowing where to go in search of the answer to my question (I have not found it yet), but I guess I have to go back to the Class C Airspace concept, meaning that as the result of "two-way comm" you will "vector" (providing the necessary separation for landing. Am I right ??..so, there are not need for a "traffic-pattern"..(straight in perhaps)..I am very confused.. What if the vector is "Nxxx make left-right pattern to..Rway X" Would I assume 1000 ft AGL ??

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4 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Matthew Waugh on Aug 11, 2010

    In trawling through a variety of reference I can feel your confusion. All the information on traffic patterns seems to limit itself to flight at airports without an operating control tower.

    Nevertheless – in the absence of other guidance I’d say that should be good enough for operations at a Class C. So in the event that you need to use a TPA then by all means use 1,000 AGL (unless you’re flying a turbo-jet).

    My experience with Class C airports tends to lead me to believe that you will be vectored to final and once you report the airport or the preceding traffic in sight told to get on with it (and the tower will just clear you to land). But I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t flown in every Class C available, so your mileage my vary.

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  2. Richard Hages on Aug 12, 2010

    I would agree that in absence of other information you would use 1000. If you reference the AOPA airport directory it may give you a TPA that would have been tougher to find in the A/FD though. TPA will sometimes vary between 800 and 1000 for different airports, but if you cant find it check with AOPA.

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  3. Art on Aug 12, 2010

    Thank you Matthew and Richard.

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  4. Malcolm Dickinson on Apr 06, 2012

    Traffic pattern altitude is given in the Airport/Facility Director (A/FD, the green book). It is also found in the AOPA Airport Directory and in WingX (ipad app). It is not found in most other places you might expect (not in AirNav.com , not on the sectional, etc.)
    If you are arriving at an airport and don’t have the TPA, and you don’t have the A/FD with you to look it up, you can use 1000 feet above the official airport elevation as a general rule of thumb. (e.g., if the airport elevation is 450 feet, TPA is probably 1450 or 1500 MSL.) However as noted above, there are many airports where the TPA is something else. I have seen 800 feet (most common at very small fields) and 1200, 1300, even 1500 feet (most common at airports with hills nearby).
    If it’s a towered airport, just ask tower. If you’re on the ground, you can of course ask a local pilot.

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