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If overwhelmed by other traffic or ATC, should one just "escape" from the circuit?

Reading this I wondered if that would have been a good thing to do.

I’ve done it many times myself. In a circuit with five others (well, five others which anyone knows about!) and one of them, say a C150, slows down to 50kt on downwind. The only thing a faster plane, say one which cannot go below 80kt safely, can do is turn right (assuming a LH circuit) and escape from the circuit. Probably the proper action would be to turn towards the runway and fly a go around but then you conflict with the one on final doing a go around for a reason of his own.

With 2.5k hrs I don’t get overwhelmed by ATC anymore (and UK ATC is normally excellent) but the above scenario does happen, and it can kill if decisive action is not taken.

Obviously this is a Class G scenario. But in CAS you would not likely have five in the circuit anyway because you would not dig up enough people willing to pay the landing fee

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

If the traffic is nuts on the CTAF when inbound (to an uncontrolled airport in the US), I leave and go somewhere else before getting close. Some of the better breakfast spots in my area get completely overwhelmed on a Sunday morning. That’s fine, no problem, just go somewhere else.

The same is true to a lesser extent for busy ATC controlled airports like my base, but usually in that case the ATIS announces split frequencies (different controller for two different runways), which helps.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 02 Dec 16:50

Peter wrote:

Obviously this is a Class G scenario. But in CAS you would not likely have five in the circuit anyway because you would not dig up enough people willing to pay the landing fee

Au contraire! I’ve arrived at Gloucester when there were 5 in the fixed wing circuit and three helicopters! I’ve also arrived at Barton when there’s been 4 or 5 in the circuit.

Also around TT time at Ronaldsway. I think it took me 40 minutes to get from Andreas to EGNS just from the number of orbits I had to do to wait for a gap in the circuit this year.

Andreas IOM

At a controlled field: I make an assumption that ATC is going to issue relevant traffic information or separate me from colliding with others. If I feel overloaded then I say “standby due to pilot workload”, focus on the flying to my last cleared point, and then listen to the radio when I have capacity.

At an uncontrolled field: If I cannot visually acquire a number of traffic that has suddenly self-announced their position on the radio that I deem as of immediate importance, then I may abort what I’m doing and fly to a less busier area until things have cleared up. It really depends.

Last Edited by James_Chan at 03 Dec 11:19

My solution is also to avoid arriving at a circuit which has say five planes in it and come back say 10 mins later, but sometimes one finds a situation developing when one is already in the circuit.

I think the correct action is to turn towards the runway and fly a “go around” but then you conflict with someone landing and going around with a high rate of climb. Plus it then places you in a curious position for rejoining the circuit (from the inside of it ). Whereas turning away from the circuit gives a relatively low risk of a collision, because the conflict is against new arrivals only.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

I think the correct action is to turn towards the runway and fly a “go around” but then you conflict with someone landing and going around with a high rate of climb.

The best action in a busy circuit is to fly too close behind somebody who is also too close to the one before. He will go around, and you can land in the freshly created gap.

:-D

But other than that, the best way to leave a circuit is the way any other aircraft would, as usually that keeps you away from (smart) joining traffic…
The place to avoid in the UK is the deadside, where the OHJoiners descend.

Last Edited by Cobalt at 05 Dec 14:27
Biggin Hill

Deadside in Sweden is often just that, a dead side. Usually with noise restrictions and stuff. Nobody flies there. Not always, but often.

Example:

^ESM[ES]$, Sweden

What I had in mind was escaping as shown by one of the arrows pointing away from the circuit i.e. from the “live” side, not from the deadside.

Also noise abatement is irrelevant if this is a life threatening situation.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Actually once I had to go around due to very low base leg and I entered the red area above. Since this was during my earlier PPL solo lessons I was conflicted whether I will get in trouble for this or not. In the end I elected to simply climb straight and level and keep my speeds, ignoring the red area. In retrospect I see that I picked the right choice, however it is not so clear in early lessons how many rules you’re “allowed to break”.

Last Edited by Dimme at 05 Dec 15:08
^ESM[ES]$, Sweden

If I have doubt on other traffic and want to “leave the circuit”, I would do it on runway heading bellow circuit height with slight offset on non-circuit side (theoretically, no one in “correct circuit height/sense” should be there) or by extending downwind at circuit height or just slightly bellow (practically, no one will go there) and never look back

This may bring the question, what if everybody does the same? straight lines at low heights on direct/opposite runway heading with offsets will provide some sort separation and avoid surprises better than any turning maneuvers or just everybody going dead-side and joining again…

From my experience, climbing overhead, going from circuit corners, and even to dead-side gets heated when the circuit is busy with limited visibility on what to expect….if you are in the middle of dead-side at circuit height in a busy circuit then it is “a game over” (learned this the hard way, you will be watching conflicting traffic on your 9 visible sides, and from RT expect conflicting traffic on 5 invisible sides)

Last Edited by Ibra at 05 Dec 15:51
ESSEX, United Kingdom
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