Talk:Airfield traffic pattern

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Merge proposal[edit]

I actually propose that Circuit (airfield) be merged into traffic pattern. Comparing the two terms on google brings up twice as many hits for traffic pattern. The article title is also much cleaner - it's far more likely for someone to search "traffic pattern" and come right to the page than for them to search "circuit (airfield)". ericg 18:05, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm sorry, I only chose the merge target as circuit because this one was more mature. I guess the final name should be the one used internationally. PeepP 19:39, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

I absolutely disagree. The reason "Traffic Pattern" gets more hits is because its a much more general term, and around here (Canada) I've heard it used extensively to relate to automobile traffic. In order to make a fair comparison, one would have to filter out all those hits. On the other point, I'd agree that noone will search for "Circuit (airfield)" but the Circuit disambig page has a handy link here. Finally, I think that given Traffic Pattern's dual use, I like the page better here. -User:Lommer | talk 23:45, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

I've actually found that the term circuit seems to be the most localized (despite the article mentioning that 'traffic pattern' is a term used 'in the US'), and airfield is a bit too specific (based on discussion at airport about what means what). I'll link to this at the aircraft and airport wikiprojects and see what people think. I did a refined google search for traffic pattern airport runway and circuit airport runway, without the words 'court', 'power', 'race', and 'system' (all of which seemed to be red herrings), and traffic pattern now sits at 110,000 results against circuit's 21,500. (edit: replacing airport with airfield in the same search drops the total for circuit to 10,700). ericg 00:07, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
While I never got my private license, my instructors always called the entry into the airspace around the airport the traffic pattern. So I'd lean that way unless there is a clear reason not to. The issue with traffic pattern and vehicles is not an issue in this discussion, in my opinion. Vegaswikian 02:52, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
Just out of curiosity, is this a Canada-US difference (i.e. Americans tend use traffic pattern while Canadians generally use circuit)? What does Europe commonly use? I've heard the term traffic pattern before but circuit is almost ubiquitous in everyday canadian aviation talk. -User:Lommer | talk 05:54, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, the UK and Canada officially call it a "traffic circuit" in their glossaries. From my searching of the CASA site, Australia seems to use "traffic pattern" and "traffic circuit" interchangeably. Several documents from the Eurocontrol organization use "traffic pattern", vs very few mentioning circuits (those that do are almost universally talking about electrical ones). It's very difficult to say globally, but it looks as if circuit is actually the less-common Commonwealth term (sorry, unintended pun). ericg 07:10, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
On quick inspection, none of the Eurocontrol documents you linked to use "traffic pattern" in the context of this document - they use it in a much more general and unrelated sense. Having said that, it is fair to say that a majority of readers are likely to be more familiar with the US "pattern" rather than "circuit" (although being from the UK I use the latter exclusively!). I think it's best resolved in an article entitled "Traffic Pattern" with redirects and an explanatory note for "Circuit" BaseTurnComplete 19:23, 1 January 2006 (UTC)


I prefer circuit, since that's the term used in the UK by actual pilots, even if not in the "official glossaries" - whatever they are (perhaps you could explain what these are, chapter and verse, as they could then be cited as a source to support whichever argument). While the term "traffic pattern" is understood, and known to be a US term, to my mind it's actually a little misleading, since you fly a circuit regardless of traffic. Surely the best way to deal with this is to simply make traffic pattern redirect here, and make sure all the common terms are listed. All common terms should redirect here. Since this article is the more senior historically speaking, it ought to have the benefit of that and remain as the base article. Graham 09:55, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
I was unaware that article age had anything to do with suitability for mergers. I thought my links showed 'traffic pattern' to be more than just a US term, but apparently Eurocontrol is not suitably European enough to count. The glossaries referring to 'traffic circuit' are on the UK'S Civil Aviation Authority Aviation Telephony Manual and Transport Canada Glossary for Pilots and Air Traffic Services Personnel (they specifically use the term Aerodrome Traffic Circuit).
I'm not sure why you insist we go by what the UK or Canada use - the largest general aviation population is in the US, and if a major multinational organization like Eurocontrol uses 'traffic pattern', as well as a smattering of other nations, then it seems to support that term's international status. ericg 18:29, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm not insisting, I'm merely throwing my view into the debate. I don't feel that strongly and we should probably go with the accepted official term. Article age does have something to do with it, simply because that shows that the term adopted mattered more than any other potential one when put against the background of all the other wikipedia articles that existed at the time - in other words, at the time it was written, it reflected the preferred term used by wikipedians. I agree though that it's not a very strong reason for not changing it later if the evolution of the encyclopedia calls for it, but on the other hand change for its own sake should always be resisted - so if there isn't any real good reason to change it except to appease some Americans, then it should stay as it is. Graham 23:44, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
I was actually mostly asking Lommer, sorry about that. I guess I could go for some opinions other than Commonwealth, though. ericg 08:07, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, sorry if I'm coming over really strong. I'm starting to come around to "traffic pattern" but it still bugs me a little. I can't really disregard all that evidence of popularity though, so even though I've always called it circuit I suppose I could go with traffic pattern. Just out of curiousity, do you always say "traffic pattern" in the states? Up here, its not uncommon to hear "the pattern" or "a pattern", but I dunno if I've ever heard "traffic pattern". -User:Lommer | talk 02:42, 21 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, colloquial use is typically a variation on pattern - I'll tell tower I'm 'holding short for closed pattern' when I want to do touch & goes, for example, and someone is typically 'in the pattern' - but everything official and in training refers to it as something along the lines of 'the traffic pattern'. I know a few pilots and airport types around the world (UK and Madeira in particular) so I'll see what I can glean from them. ericg 03:36, 21 December 2005 (UTC)
I think that one should go by whatever is the nomenclature accepted by ICAO. If I understand correctly the intro to [1], since there is no [ICAO] modifier on the "Traffic Pattern [2], this means there's no difference between the ICAO and the US use. I.e., looks like Canada has some own special terminology here. Please correct me if I am wrong, preferrably with a reference to an ICAO document. BACbKA 20:53, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

I think both articles should be merged into a page called Airfield_trafic_pattern, this title could not possible lead to any ambiguity and would probably provide a search hit for most people looking for this page. --Aaronsharpe 01:52, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

I like that title a lot, specifically because it throws the aviation-nature of the subject right out there. As for search findings, I don't that's anything a few redirects couldn't handle even better. -User:Lommer | talk 02:10, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
I concur - that's a decent solution. ericg 04:12, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't know enough about the subject to merge the two existing articles so I will leave that up to one of you experts. --Aaronsharpe 21:58, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm hardly an expert, so I too will leave it to someone else. Perhaps someone with admin powers - I'll drop a line to Ingoolemo (talk · contribs). ericg 00:34, 25 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't know much about flying but is Hold_(aviation) also about this topic, and if so does that also need to be merged? --Aaronsharpe 16:52, 26 December 2005 (UTC)
A hold is completely different - that's when an aircraft is enroute (often when nearing an airport) waiting for an instrument approach or needs to wait for a clearance time to become valid. ericg 19:21, 26 December 2005 (UTC)


  • Moved 45-degree midfield join to first in sentence, since common in US.
  • Added 90-degree midfield join, used in some European countries.
  • Added run-and-break.
  • Removed parenthesised bits regarding who does what kind of join where, since otherwise the sentence would get too complex.

BaseTurnComplete 13:51, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

About "upwind leg"[edit]

It is defined in the article "The area of the airfield adjacent to the runway but opposite the pattern is known as the "upwind leg", while it doesn't completely comply with the presentation in the figure. According to FAA's "Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge", "The 'upwind leg' is a course flown parallel to the landing runway, but in the same direction to the intended landing direction. The upwind leg continues past a point abeam of the departure end of the runway to where a medium bank 90 degrees turn is made onto the crosswind leg." --Natasha2006 15:42, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Upwind leg revisited[edit]

As noted in the section above the section above this one, the definition of the upwind leg on the article was incorrect (the description seemed to be that of a /downwind/ leg, so I removed it and updated the "departure leg" (a term I myself am not familiar with but it seems reasonable so I will leave it alone) to include "upwind leg" as an alternative term. Lumbergh 18:23, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

More on Upwind leg[edit]

Per the Pattern Diagram in the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual the upwind leg is separate and distinct from the departure leg, so the two should not be confused. Reference Figure 4-3-1 Tunahawk (talk) 01:19, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

  • Tunahawk is correct. In the US, "upwind leg" properly is *not* an alternative term for departure or climb out because it is in-line with the runway and below TPA. Strictly speaking, Departure is no more upwind than is final. Upwind is the opposite of downwind, both of which are at or near TPA and parallel to but offset from the runway. (talk) 05:10, 11 April 2013 (UTC)


What does the term "abeam midfield" mean? 20:56, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

In the United States, aircraft usually join the pattern at a 45° angle to the downwind leg, abeam midfield. They may also join straight in along the final leg, if there is no conflict with other traffic.

In Europe, aircraft usually join the pattern at a 90° angle to the downwind leg, abeam midfield.

"Abeam midfield" means just that -- abeam the middle of the field. I have removed the [clarification needed] tags around the places that phrase appears as they are unnecessary. See: Abeam @ wiktionary, definition 2. Lumbergh 18:19, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
No offense, but could you explain a bit clearer please. Abeam seems to essentially mean "to the side" -- is "abeam midfield" talking about the plane's position, or its orientation? 23:15, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
Abeam midfield refers to the plane's position. Orientation refers to the line of the downwind leg (which is parallel to the runway). (talk) 05:10, 11 April 2013 (UTC)


I feel the paragraph on touch and go is a bit out of place in the "benefits" section. Also, the procedures expected from the pilot are not sourced nor placed into specific regulation context.

Note that in the U.S., there's also a possibility to get "cleared for the option", i.e., the pilot can then, at his own discretion, do a full stop landing, stop-and-go (land, stop, and takeoff again), or a touch-and-go (land, stabilize, re-configure for take-off while still rolling, and take-off again). — Preceding unsigned comment added by BACbKA (talkcontribs)

Quite right, that doesn't belong under "benefits" - feel free to move it. You add "the option" if you have a ref (AIM might be a good place to look!) - Ahunt (talk) 22:15, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. Moved that paragraph to Procedures and reworked, added a ref (US AIM only) for the option approach. Now I'm not sure if the current "Benefits" section makes sense any more? should it be merged elsewhere? BACbKA (talk) 08:46, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for finding that. I formatted the ref and moved the remainder of the "benefits" text up to the lead. I am not sure if it should stay there or whether it is redundant enough that it can just be removed entirely. - Ahunt (talk) 13:16, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks! BACbKA (talk) 15:03, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

The whole article really needs an overhaul and properly referencing. It can probably all be sourced from the FAA and Transport Canada AIMs - Ahunt (talk) 18:00, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
  • There are more differences internationally, e.g., Australia. (talk) 05:11, 11 April 2013 (UTC)


The wording makes it sound like following standard procedure might contribute to mid-air collisions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:56, 11 April 2013 (UTC)