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The Overhead Join - is it dangerous?

A lot of people think it is, but the UK mid-air stats don’t support that.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

What is the logic behind it being dangerous? I’ve never understood that.

The RV/Diamond mid-air at Shoreham (cross wind join I believe) would not have happened with an overhead join.

Very early in my flight lessons we (me and FI, in a PA28) had a C172 sink down into downwind right in front of us. He had reported a wrong osition, didn’t see us and we didn’t see him.

Safe landings !
EDLN, Germany

The Overhead Joind has nothing to do with sinking into the downwind. On the contrary.

I like it, especially on non-radio fields with the notable exception of airports where gliders perform winch launches and parajumpers fall out of nowhere. We have been told “Never perform overhead joints in Headcorn” for instance. Although it might lead to pointless circling around an airport when a direct approach would be sufficient, too, if there is not much traffic and the airfield insists on an overhead joint. Like in Wellesbourne.

In Germany many notions rather not to fly an overhead join is due to wide spread use of winches for glider towing with cable hights up to 2000ft AGL with some gliders and plastic winch cables. They can ruin your day if you fly through them. Has happened a couple of times in Germany. Unfortunately the DFS doesn’t want to print the necessary information on their charts (unlike the british where the chart is cut way too big but has very good information depicted).
Last Edited by mh at 10 Oct 22:01
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

I rarely cross the runway centerline, or the extended runway centerline, anywhere near an airport. I think that avoids confflct with departing aircraft climbing at max performance (the safest way to depart for several reasons) and it also avoids conflict if another plane goes around from final.

That aside, two planes flying at speeds that differ by (say) a factor of two will inevitably take different and potentially conflicting three dimensional tracks as they criss-cross the airport before entering the downwind leg.

Perfect for airports with no other traffic, though

Classic overhead join would be crossing above the threshold, though.

Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

I don’t really have a strong view for or against overhead joins but I note that Australia adopted the US style 45deg downwind entry after having conducted a very detailed safety case analysis….

Although I will say that IMO, many of these airfields would be safer without an A/G radio operator…their presence prevents (in practice) people from self-declaring their relative positions and intentions and creates a false sense of security in the sense that people abdicate their obligation to maintain a complete traffic picture in their minds….they think the A/G operator is keeping an eye on them…. A CTAF would often be better (and cheaper!)…(and allow extended hours)..IMHO…

Last Edited by AnthonyQ at 11 Oct 05:32
EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

I must say I much prefer the 45 degree join or the 90 degree variant as practised in the Netherlands. I get a much better feel for what is going on and no danger from gliders or paras.

EHLE / Lelystad, Netherlands, Netherlands

Dangerous? Hard to say. As Peter said, accidents don’t seem to happen often due to the overhead join.

A bad idea? Mostly yes. First of all, because even most UK pilots don’t know how exactly to do it. One see see that every time the topic comes up in Uk pilit forums. And indeed, CAA guidance is clearly insufficient, particularly when it comes to arrivals from differernt directions relative to the active runway direction.

What is paricularly bad is AFIS (or even ATC) airfields which insist on it.

Again, don’t know if it’s dangerous, but it least it potentially creates a lot of confusion and sometimes panic. The reason is simple: collisions tend to happen in the vicinity of airfields. Hence, one should absolutely minimize the time spent maneuvering at or in the vicinity of airfields. The overhaead join does the contrary.

It’s also a nightmare for most passengers. In some cases, a full overhead join means somerthings like 800 degrees of turn (mad!), which will make most people throw up.

Especially in the UK, it is also often not practical, since ceilings tend to be low so that sufficient altitude cannot be reached.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

The overhead join I think is ideal at unattended airfields or airfields without some kind of radio service, as it allows you to observe the airfield (things like the windsock etc). I don’t really see its value when you can get that information via some other means first (e.g. A/G radio operator, ATIS, etc)

Andreas IOM
142 Posts
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