Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Welcome to our forums

What is expected by the controller when he issues a "join downwind"

Another question came up during this week-end flight at EBCI (I know I had a heavy moment )
RWY 7 active. Got instruction to fly to S. Before reaching S, new instruction “Turn right to SA”

At SA I got a “join downwind”. I read back “Joining beginning of downwind” and fly the following path while descending to pattern altitude in order to reach it at the beginning of downwind.

At the beginning of downwind I cross quite closely a plane which just departed and turned south toward SE.

Did I miss something ? Was the controller expecting me to join mid down-wind ?

I hope that this two post will not let you think that I am clumsy pilot :-s just want to share my experience and get useful insights on what could be done better

Last Edited by jfw at 12 Mar 20:12
Belgium: EBGB (Grimbergen, Brussels) - EBAW (Antwerp) - EBCI (Charleroi), Belgium

jfw wrote:

Was the controller expecting me to join mid down-wind ?

Not really familiar with Belgian standard procedures, but elsewhere one is expected to join downwind in the middle. In your case, I would have flown straight on after passing SA until reaching downwind more or less abeam the runway. But again, I have no idea about Belgian procedures.

EDDS - Stuttgart

You shouldn’t have made that extra righthand turn before turning downwind. In principle, ATC expect you to be expeditious in a CTR and not bimble around. Had the tower said you were number two behind an aircraft on downwind, it of course would have been a different story. But this apparently wasn’t the case.

Of course, it would have been nice if the tower had called out the departing traffic to you, but remember it’s class D, so you will not be separated and VFR traffic infos will only be given as far as possible.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

I agree with what_next. Your flight path took you straight into the departure route as charted.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Unless I am missing something (which is not impossible at all these early days of spring, and after a beautiful late-afternoon flight over the Campine):

  • both at S and at SA, you were to the South of the 07-25
  • a clearance/instruction for the 07 downwind would implicitly mean “lefthand downwind”
  • lefthand downwind for 07 is on its North side
  • “downwind” with no more detail means, implicitly, “beginning of downwind” (yes yes, @WN, even in retarded BE)

So that I imagine that you were correct to join the beginning of the wrong downwind? It sounds like tower wanted you to join (the beginning of) righthand downwind. Or would they really have wanted you to cross the active?

Last Edited by at 12 Mar 21:08
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Well some elements to add… there was traffic on downwind which I did not manage to spot and obviously (sorry if I was not explicit) the instruction and read back was regarding right hand downwind…

Where I am puzzled is regarding the downwind instruction. I understand as Jan that downwind means begin of downwind… should he otherwise not instructed mid down-wind ? But I agree that begin of downwind is in the departure path. That’s why I explictely mentionned “begin of downwind” in order to avoid confusion.

It’s the plane encounter that confuses me on what was expected by the controller….

Belgium: EBGB (Grimbergen, Brussels) - EBAW (Antwerp) - EBCI (Charleroi), Belgium

At SA I got a “join downwind”. I read back “Joining beginning of downwind”

Readback the clearance given not one you just made up. You were cleared from your present position to join the downwind leg; from where you were, that would have taken you to a position approximately midpoint downwind. Had you followed the instruction there would have been no confliction with the departing traffic. All traffic in the vicinity of an aerodrome should make turns in the direction of the traffic patern, not turn the wrong way to position at the start of the downwinnd leg. The controller should have challeged your readback. Downwind is anywhere between Crosswind and Base leg.

I beg to differ: I was repeatedly taught that “downwind” implicitly means “beginning of downwind”. Had the controller intended/meant “middle of downwind” then this ought to have been explicitly stated. To the best of my knowledge, @jfw was totally correct, in the interpretation and in the readback and in the flying.

And while the general principle of “only turning into the direction of the traffic pattern” does stand, it is only a general principle, overridable by ad hoc instructions. As was the case here, in my interpretation of the given information.

Last Edited by at 12 Mar 22:00
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Joining in the middle is the usual procedure IMO.


In general assume that they want you to do the most obvious join. Continuing and joining mid downwind would make the most sense and is presumably what they wanted you to do. If you aren’t sure, ask, but not by reading back a clearance not given. You should make a question explicit.

It would be very unusual to expect you to do the complicated join you did unless they said you are no 2 behind the aircraft early downwind.

Last Edited by JasonC at 12 Mar 23:26
EGTK Oxford
56 Posts
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top