Visual Apprach and traffic pattern

Checks

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Been flying awhile and have flown a gazillion visual approaches but I flew with a guy today who believes we should enter the traffic pattern at a tower controlled airport after being cleared for the visual. Situation: approaching airport runway from 90 angle. 5 miles out we are cleared by Approach Control for the visual to Runway 18 (we are heading 270 degrees). I head for a modified left base to land runway 14. He says we should head straight for the midfield downfield.

After numerous searches of the AIM of other publications I realize there is no clear guidance I can find...,....what say you guys?
 

HSDriver

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He's wrong. There is no traffic pattern at a controlled field.
 

satpak77

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Advisory Circular AC 9-66A

reference?
http://www.avweb.com/news/features/184492-1.html

Some points

1. A traffic pattern is recommended for use at non-towered airports.
2. At towered airports, the traffic pattern (a VFR animal) is dictated by Control Tower. "Enter on the right downwind" etc
3. A visual approach still considered IFR handling, but allowing you to land visually while in the IFR environment



7. GENERAL OPERATING PRACTICES.
a. Use of standard traffic patterns for all aircraft and CTAF procedures by radio equipped aircraft are recommended at all airports without operating control towers. However, it is recognized that other traffic patterns may already be in common use at some airports or that special circumstances or conditions exist that may prevent use of the standard traffic pattern.
b. The use of any traffic pattern procedure does not alter the responsibility of each pilot to see and avoid other aircraft. Pilots are encouraged to participate in "Operation Lights On," which is a voluntary pilot safety program described in the AIM designed to enhance the "see and avoid" requirement.
c. As part of the preflight familiarization with all available information concerning a flight, each pilot should review all appropriate publications (AFD, AIM, Notices to Airmen (NOTAM), etc.), for pertinent information on current traffic patterns at the departure and arrival airports.
d. It is recommended that pilots utilize visual indicators, such as the segmented circle, wind direction indicator, landing direction indicator, and traffic pattern indicators which provide traffic pattern information.
e. The FAA encourages pilots to use the standard traffic pattern. However, for those pilots who choose to execute a straight-in approach, maneuvering for and execution of the approach should be completed so as not to disrupt the flow of arriving and departing traffic. Therefore, pilots operating in the traffic pattern should be alert at all times to aircraft executing straight-in approaches.
f. Pilots who wish to conduct instrument approaches should be particularly alert for other aircraft in the pattern so as to avoid interrupting the flow of traffic. Position reports on the CTAF should include distance and direction from the airport, as well as the pilot's intentions upon completion of the approach.
http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim/Chap5/aim0504.html#5-4-22


5-4-22. Visual Approach
a. A visual approach is conducted on an IFR flight plan and authorizes a pilot to proceed visually and clear of clouds to the airport. NOTE: PERIOD, END OF STORY. PROCEED VISUALLY AND CLEAR OF CLOUDS TO THE AIRPORT. The pilot must have either the airport or the preceding identified aircraft in sight. This approach must be authorized and controlled by the appropriate air traffic control facility. Reported weather at the airport must have a ceiling at or above 1,000 feet and visibility 3 miles or greater. ATC may authorize this type approach when it will be operationally beneficial. Visual approaches are an IFR procedure conducted under IFR in visual meteorological conditions. Cloud clearance requirements of 14 CFR Section 91.155 are not applicable, unless required by operation specifications.
b. Operating to an Airport Without Weather Reporting Service. ATC will advise the pilot when weather is not available at the destination airport. ATC may initiate a visual approach provided there is a reasonable assurance that weather at the airport is a ceiling at or above 1,000 feet and visibility 3 miles or greater (e.g., area weather reports, PIREPs, etc.).
c. Operating to an Airport With an Operating Control Tower. Aircraft may be authorized to conduct a visual approach to one runway while other aircraft are conducting IFR or VFR approaches to another parallel, intersecting, or converging runway. When operating to airports with parallel runways separated by less than 2,500 feet, the succeeding aircraft must report sighting the preceding aircraft unless standard separation is being provided by ATC. When operating to parallel runways separated by at least 2,500 feet but less than 4,300 feet, controllers will clear/vector aircraft to the final at an angle not greater than 30 degrees unless radar, vertical, or visual separation is provided during the turn‐on. The purpose of the 30 degree intercept angle is to reduce the potential for overshoots of the final and to preclude side‐by‐side operations with one or both aircraft in a belly-up configuration during the turn‐on. Once the aircraft are established within 30 degrees of final, or on the final, these operations may be conducted simultaneously. When the parallel runways are separated by 4,300 feet or more, or intersecting/converging runways are in use, ATC may authorize a visual approach after advising all aircraft involved that other aircraft are conducting operations to the other runway. This may be accomplished through use of the ATIS.
d. Separation Responsibilities. If the pilot has the airport in sight but cannot see the aircraft to be followed, ATC may clear the aircraft for a visual approach; however, ATC retains both separation and wake vortex separation responsibility. When visually following a preceding aircraft, acceptance of the visual approach clearance constitutes acceptance of pilot responsibility for maintaining a safe approach interval and adequate wake turbulence separation.
e. A visual approach is not an IAP and therefore has no missed approach segment. If a go around is necessary for any reason, aircraft operating at controlled airports will be issued an appropriate advisory/clearance/instruction by the tower. At uncontrolled airports, aircraft are expected to remain clear of clouds and complete a landing as soon as possible. If a landing cannot be accomplished, the aircraft is expected to remain clear of clouds and contact ATC as soon as possible for further clearance. Separation from other IFR aircraft will be maintained under these circumstances.
f. Visual approaches reduce pilot/controller workload and expedite traffic by shortening flight paths to the airport. It is the pilot's responsibility to advise ATC as soon as possible if a visual approach is not desired.
g. Authorization to conduct a visual approach is an IFR authorization and does not alter IFR flight plan cancellation responsibility.
http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:XQIlsj3mEP4J:www.faa.gov/library/manuals/aircraft/airplane_handbook/media/faa-h-8083-3a-4of7.pdf+"traffic+pattern"+FAA&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjS8Dp2aYg4YrfYka1UqOJSY6WgpBESo29nBl-6-PNiZ6UZQrxazdzKXXlBtRGzQ-sC0pqL7JVSilag25RGdTnDA93Y29B0BUkXFochVR3MH1BSTIJP34gknIJQ7J1pekLts078&sig=AHIEtbQSyTfbkvM8o-hoFUvyWDCU2oui5w

Can't cut and paste but above discusses traffic patterns
 
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nosehair

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PIC choice. Most go straight-in, or as close as possible, but any PIC can choose to enter a downwind, unless directed to enter a specific leg in the clearance.
 

satpak77

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"cleared for visual" = get to runway visually, your way (within reason....no inverted Split S over the tower and entry to base leg)
 

Checks

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His reference is 91.129 which states you will enter at traffic pattern altitude.

Thanks for the replies.
 

LarryinTN

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His reference is 91.129 which states you will enter at traffic pattern altitude.
91.129 says, "(f) Approaches. Except when conducting a circling approach under part 97 of this chapter or unless otherwise required by ATC, each pilot must -- (1) Circle the airport to the left, if operating an airplane;"
 

satpak77

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this stuff isn't that hard. Why some people (the pilot mentioned in orig post) make it so is beyond me.

Really, as much as we would like the chicks at the bar to believe, this is not rocket science folks....
 

guido411

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Been flying awhile and have flown a gazillion visual approaches but I flew with a guy today who believes we should enter the traffic pattern at a tower controlled airport after being cleared for the visual. Situation: approaching airport runway from 90 angle. 5 miles out we are cleared by Approach Control for the visual to Runway 18 (we are heading 270 degrees). I head for a modified left base to land runway 14. He says we should head straight for the midfield downfield.

After numerous searches of the AIM of other publications I realize there is no clear guidance I can find...,....what say you guys?
Why are you making a left base to 14 when he cleared you for the visual to 18? Lining up on a different runway is going to get you yelled at more than how you do or don't enter the traffic pattern.
 

Checks

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It was a typo, good catch. It was a modified base for runway 18 not 14.
 

Tired Soul

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This won't really hold up in court but there is also such a thing as expectation from other participants such as ATC.
I don't think they would expect you to join a left downwind from present position as described. I would think they expect you to enter a base leg.
Same as taxi clearances used to be: taxi runway 5, they don't expect you to taxi three times around the ramp and then take the longest way. They expect you to take the most expeditious way.
 
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