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Joining the visual circuit in your country

Does Germany has a ban on straight-in, if nobody in the tower, whether or not coming off an instrument approach, like France has?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I’d like to make an observation about the US VFR procedures that did not come up. Sorry it’s late Timothy.

In the US, the key is the ‘45 deg join’. This means approaching at pattern altitude 45 deg to the downwind, (see 45 deg join) turning downwind at the upwind numbers. Joining from the ‘wrong’ side usually involves flying overhead and making a tear drop on to the 45. (Unless there are parachutists!).

This system works exceptionally well in the US and is often advocated as a ‘better way’ in UK. It isn’t. Here’s why:

In the US traffic is where it says it is (mostly). This is because of much higher standards of R/T, a logically consistent set of rules and regularised patterns (circuits) that are almost always the same. Dare I say much higher training standards and currency as well? In the US a mile is a long way from the airport. This means that approaching traffic has a very good chance of acquiring traffic while on the 45, which is an ideal angle for seeing other crosswind and other downwinders, and manoevering to fit in with them.

Compare that with circuit behaviour in UK and you can see why it might not work! Acquiring traffic visually at 2 miles (frequent UK circuit radius) is much more difficult than at 1 mile because pilots are forced into arcane patterns by complainers, who stand to benefit financially due to the ferocious house price situation. Not to say that there are not strange patterns in the US due to complainers (there are) but few and far between.

EGBW / KPRC, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Does Germany has a ban on straight-in, if nobody in the tower, whether or not coming off an instrument approach, like France has?

There is no general ban on straight-in on uncontrolled fields. However, if there is a circuit described in the approach plate I would talk to the guy on the radio first.
To my knowledge the situation “nobody in the tower” does not exist officially. At least in my state (Baden-Württemberg) the radio has to be manned, also on uncontrolled fields (“Flugleiter”).

EDNG, EDST, Germany

No ban on straight in approaches in Germany.
Few airfields where you are allowed to land without a airfield representative (Flugleiter).
If at all, usually locally based aircraft only.

Circuits often have a noise design, i.e. around non-overflight areas. Those could mean no straight in (several examples in Germany). Or prescribe a certain enter/exit point of the circuit.

As mentioned, talk to the airfield. Ultimately a pilot decision, only. But the airfield operator could kick you out, afterwards.

Last Edited by ch.ess at 10 Sep 16:47
EDM_, Germany

I was in Muhldorf the other day and got the impression that the tower guy was either there or he was in the restaurant or toilet, in which case life went on without him.

Did I get the wrong impression?

EGKB Biggin Hill


Often they are moving around with a handheld (during times of low traffic…)

Given that he has no legal obligation other than to observe and give information (even if some folks at some airfields try to play ATC) i find this perfectly ok.

PS let me know in advance when you come to EDMY – would be nice to meet f2f ;-)

Last Edited by ch.ess at 11 Sep 05:54
EDM_, Germany

Peter wrote:

Curiously the UK can do that too and use the same method as the USA (a remotely located IFR controller who clears you for the approach) but the problem in the UK is that nobody is willing/able to fund the cost of the IFR controller Hence only one UK airport uses this method – Walney Island.

Doncaster Approach is not at Doncaster, I think it’s at Liverpool

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

Doncaster Approach is not at Doncaster, I think it’s at Liverpool

This is true of most airports in LTMA.

Last Edited by Timothy at 11 Sep 06:59
EGKB Biggin Hill

Timothy wrote:

how different countries legislate/advise people to join the visual circuit.

Way too old, but curious. What exactly do you mean? a controlled airfield, AFIS or untowered ?


AFIS, a/g or untowered.

EGKB Biggin Hill
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