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Old 02-27-2010, 10:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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FAR/AIM Question

I'm looking for some help.

Several of us were sitting around the airport today when a discussion developed about standard airport arrival procedures. Aside from AC 90-66A - Recommended Standards Traffic Patterns for Aeronautical Operations at Airports without Operating Control Tower.

I was quite sure I had read somewhere that as opposed to making standard pattern entries into a pattern, that if you were in proper position, you could utilize a straight in approach to final providing you were at least 3 miles upwind from the airport.

I have searched the FAR/AIM, but have not been able to find this. Any help would be appreciated. Am I imagining it or is there a regualtion/rule dictating this?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 02-27-2010, 10:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum AirBear120.


I don't recall ever seeing anything in the AIM but the standard pattern entry recommendation. Technically, the AIM is not regulatory so you could make a strait in approach as long as you can pretty much guarantee safety.

However, I try to keep in mind that there are certain expectations that other aviators have. On a moderately busy day at a non-towered airport, one might be able to safely make a strait in approach but it is safer to use the standard pattern entry recommendation because everyone else is expecting new traffic to enter on a 45 angle to the downwind.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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AirBear, you can =always= do a straight in approach. The AIM pattern entries are recommendations, with an important exception.

I'm only guessing but what you might be recalling is some discussion about the 91.126(b) requirement that all turns in the pattern must be to the left (or the right if indicated). I know I've come across discussions in which some people suggest that a right turn to final at a left pattern airport is ok so long as you are at least 3 miles away. The theory is that 3 miles is some magic number and if you are more than that you are not "in the traffic pattern."

The theory is sort of based on an NTSB case involving Alaska Airlines in which the NTSB held that a turn 1-2 miles from the airport was in the traffic pattern.

Unfortunately, if you read the full decision, it's not as clear-cut as that. Whether you are in the pattern or not depends on the airport, the traffic mix, etc.

It's interesting reading:
http://www.ntsb.gov/alj/O_n_O/docs/AVIATION/3523.PDF
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Old 03-05-2010, 06:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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About a month ago I went to AOPA sfety seminar where 45 midfield downwind entry was stressed up as the most safe way no matter how do you approach to the airfield.
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