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4 Answers

Departing the Traffic Pattern

Asked by: 6676 views ,

According to the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge 13-11, one should depart the pattern at either a 45* left (or 45* right with a right pattern) or straight out. If departing straight out, when is one considered clear of the pattern and can make turns? For example: I was departing Runway 21. I held the centerline of the runway until I had passed through pattern altitude climbing to 1500 AGL and had cleared the departure end of the runway. Then I initiated a turn to 280*.

I had some comments on the CTAF about a "non-standard" departure. So my question: if departing straight out, when is one considered clear of the pattern and free to maneuver?



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4 Answers

  1. Nathan Parker on Jun 22, 2012

    “So my question: if departing straight out, when is one considered clear of the pattern and free to maneuver?”
    This isn’t defined anywhere.  We’ll have to wait until someone gets violated and speals to the NTSB and a ruling is published.  The NTSB has ruled previously that what constitutes the “pattern” depends on the size and speed of the aircraft in question.  I generally wait until a couple of hundred feet above pattern altitude before turning.

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  2. Ben Plowman on Jun 23, 2012

    According to FAA AC90-66A:

    i. When departing the traffic pattern, airplanes should continue straight out or exit with a 45° left turn (right turn for right traffic pattern) beyond the departure end of the runway after reaching pattern altitude. Pilots need to be aware of any traffic entering the traffic pattern prior to commencing a turn.

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  3. Jim Foley on Jun 23, 2012

    One note:  From your examle in the PHAK and Ben’s quote from the AC, the keyword is “should.”  These are not regulations, but meerely suggestions.  While it is an excellent idea to follow these to maintain consistency acroos the board, it is not required to do so.  Not doing so will not result in a violation, unless whatever you decide to do endangeres other people.  Since you’re in uncontrolled airspace, you can pretty much do whatever you want.

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  4. Mike M. on Jul 06, 2012

    Departing straight out is about as simple as you can get but I would also recommend that as you depart try to avoid pattern altitude as a level off point.  Climb through pattern altitude which includes 1500′ AGL for turbine aircraft.  Remember everyone else is using the pattern altitude as an inbound altitude to abide by the FAR’s or local policy.  I like to continue upward at least another thousand feet above the pattern altitude to stay clear of traffic that could be there unannounced or flying stealth, especially in uncontrolled airspace.  Also remember while maneuvering at pattern altitude to make all turns to the LEFT unless otherwise noted.  91.126 &91.127

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