In aviation, a touch-and-go landing or circuit is a maneuver that is common when learning to fly a fixed-wing aircraft. It involves landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop. Usually the pilot then circles the airport in a defined pattern known as a circuit and repeats the maneuver. This allows many landings to be practiced in a short time.
If the pilot brings the aircraft to a full stop before taking off again then it is known as "stop-and-go".
Touch-and-go landings are also crucial when a plane lands with not enough space to come to a complete stop, but has enough space to accelerate and take off again to carry out a go-around.
In British parlance, the maneuver is often called circuits and bumps.
The standard circuit begins with a roll on the runway until the aircraft rotates (nose pitches up), a climb to 500 feet above runway/field elevation (AGL), a right or left climbing turn (depending on making either right hand or left hand circuits) to a course perpendicular to the runway, continuing to gain altitude to TPA (traffic pattern altitude) (typically 1000 feet AGL), followed by another right or left turn for a downwind leg parallel to the runway, maintaining TPA. During the downwind leg the pilot performs pre-landing checks, contacts the control tower requesting a full-stop landing, a touch-and-go, "stop-and-go", or "the option", and when cleared to land, descends to 800 feet AGL. After seeing the threshold of the runway at 45 degrees behind him/her, the pilot makes another descending left or right turn to 500 feet AGL. The pilot then turns on the last leg, the final approach at which time clearance to land or for a touch-and-go must be received.
Debate over role in flight instruction
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Some flight instructors believe touch-and-gos should not be heavily used, if at all, with student pilots. They argue that this procedure results in less attention to learning to land properly, and thus creates safety problems. They note that neither the Federal Aviation Administration's Practical Test Standards nor its Airplane Flying Handbook discusses touch-and-gos.
Instructors who favor the use of touch-and-gos contend that it makes it possible to practice more landings per hour of instruction. Students doing touch-and-gos find it easier to master landing, particularly the final stage known as landing flare, which is often difficult to learn. Preparing to take off while landing is a necessary safety skill, they add, because any pilot must be able to do it in order to reject a landing.
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