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

The circuit only works when everyone is doing the same speed, and hanging on the stall horn is not somewhere you want to be.

I would probably break away from the runway and re-join at the same level at the beginning of that leg, e.g. turn away midfield and re-join at the start of downwind.

A Cirrus-owning acquaintance flies his downwinds at twice the normal distance from the runway so he can overtake most of the traffic and essentially join on base.

An American instructor told me to join direct on base when the pattern is busy, as you spend less time around other aircraft (this was late morning at the weekend at Crystal River). This also works in the UK, but the pocket dictator behind the A/G radio gets upset


This is relevant to this topic. From the AAIB report:

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Nex time ATC (Biggin, for example) instructs me to orbit for other traffic, I‘ll just say „negative“…

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

Remeber to lower the gear again if you raise it with no reason while orbiting….someone raised his while orbiting on base and forgot to drop it again !

Last Edited by Ibra at 04 Jan 09:29
ESSEX, United Kingdom

Is that AAIB recommendation for uncontrolled airfields? At Inverness EGPE doing several orbits, as instructed by ATC, is not uncommon, sometimes with others also orbiting. Everyone where ATC told them to be, and watched by ATC on radar.
Slotting in light GA with jet and turboprop airliners, and business jets, without a parallel taxiway, just wouldn’t work if instructions to orbit were refused.

EGPE, United Kingdom

For controlled airfields, I don’t think you can do what you want still you can say “unable and ask what you can do” you may not like the other options: orbit outside ATZ until called back?

I was talking about this for orbit & gear up at EGKB, the guys did have serious experience so it is not something I would take lightly, the real question is how many instructions ATC can throw at you before you stall, of course some can cope with 10 instructions, personally, I like no more than 1 after a 3h trip before my brain goes out….

local copy

Last Edited by Ibra at 04 Jan 19:41
ESSEX, United Kingdom

That accident is weird. They were “configured for an asymmetric landing”.
In a real one-engine situation, I think they would have had priority, and not been asked to orbit. I’m just an SEP, but I wonder if the examiner should have cancelled the asymmetric when the “orbit” order came.
They had not, I assume, declared an emergency, so ATC were treating them as normal traffic.
Providing the instructions come one at a time, I don’t see any limit to the number you should need to make you stall.

EGPE, United Kingdom

Maoraigh wrote:

Is that AAIB recommendation for uncontrolled airfields?

This is an extract from CAP1535 “The Skyway Code” i.e. a mix of SERA and UK CAA advices and recommendations.

Nympsfield, United Kingdom

A few times I’ve found myself in circuits (both at controlled and uncontrolled fields) where clustermatings have started to develop. All it takes is a number of aircraft and someone doing something non-standard such as flying incredibly slowly or flying a Bomber Command circuit. Pilots with poor R/T can quickly cause problems as they hog the airwaves and prevent other aircraft or the tower making the calls they need to make in time.

I’ve dealt with it in a number of ways including fleeing to the live side against circuit direction as Peter suggests. In such a situation my only concern is avoiding a mid-air collision and as such I tend to fly in a direction I can see to be clear and where no-one else is likely to go. Noise abatement, ATC instructions or the preferences of the airfield operator do not enter the equation.

Finally, I know it was said in jest but if the aircraft in front of me looks like he’ll be able to land then I tend to hang well back so he has time to vacate before I cross the threshold. If it looks almost certain that the guy in front will have to go around then I keep it tight and land in the gap he creates. :-)


If asked to orbit (left or right) what bank angle please – 15 degrees or 30 degrees?

UK, United Kingdom
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