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VFR departure from non-controlled aerodrome

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VFR departure from non-controlled aerodrome

Old 17th Mar 2015, 00:57
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VFR departure from non-controlled aerodrome

Seeking on some advice on the correct procedure for departure from an Australian non-controlled aerodrome, as I'm getting back into flying after many years away and trying to understand all the rule changes. When I learnt to fly in the 90s, I was taught where possible to depart overhead the field to minimise any initial track error.

I notice that the AIP says 'departing aircraft should depart by extending one of the standard circuit legs'. The same story appears in CAAP 166-1 (Operations in the vicinity of non-controlled aerodromes) but it also says that any aircraft departing overhead the aerodrome needs to be aware of traffic joining the circuit using the overfly procedure.

Does this mean that you can still legally depart overhead the aerodrome? If not what is the best way to intercept your outbound track from an extended circuit leg without the use of any navaids and without having to track outbound from upwind for 3nm and then turn in a direction contrary to the local circuit direction in order to intercept your track.

Last edited by chickenlegs; 17th Mar 2015 at 01:12.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 01:11
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I guess you are Australia based? I am in UK so maybe different protocols.

You can start your Nav plan from a handy "Set Heading Point" rather than overhead the airport.

The SHP should be an easily recognisable feature in the local area within a few miles of the airport. You leave the circuit at the end of one of the circuit legs and then eyeball it to the SHP where you set course with no track error.

Hope this helps.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 01:18
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It's very simple. The caap over complicates it. If you are going to make a turn in circuit direction do so at 500-1000 Agl to make 30 or so degree intercept with the outbound track. Don't fly square circuit legs until intercept. If you depart over head then same thing however one continuous turn towards your outboard track which places you overhead. Usually only do if say you take off to the north and your outbound track is SE. If it's a turn contrary to the circuit it's exactly the same as turning in circuit direction(30-45 degree intercept) just wait until circuit plus 500 or 3nm. Easy....
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 08:32
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If you think about it, how could departing VFR from say downwind be any different than departing from over the top. You start your leg just a small distance from where you want to be and in the scheme of things it will make no difference whatsoever to where you end up, say mid track or at the final destination.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 12:32
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Does this mean that you can still legally depart overhead the aerodrome?
Yes you can, the CAAP does not say you can't & anyway it is an advisory procedure not a regulation. If for example you wanted to depart to the North off 27 with a left hand circuit then overhead would probably be the way to go.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 21:18
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If you're going to depart overhead, please climb to above circuit height before turning towards the runway/your outbound track. If you turn towards the runway from the active side at circuit height, you'll be in direct conflict with traffic joining mid-field crosswind.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 22:30
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mid-field crosswind
This should have been banned long ago. Mainly because everyone seems to have such a different interpretation of what it actually is and the way it is implemented.

Joining crosswind over the threshold appears on the surface to be far safer, as your only risk is a high-performance aircraft on takeoff (who can likely clearly see you ahead) and for the aircraft joining crosswind, his only real concern is an aircraft on downwind or joining downwind.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 22:48
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Thanks for the advice guys. Just want to make sure I do the right thing so the instructor doing my BFR doesn't blow a gasket over my departure procedure.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 23:53
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I agree on your mid-field point, S77, both as to its operational prudence and the differences that still occur as a consequence of the usual appallingly inadequate pilot education and change rejection (itís not longer change fatigue, but active rejection).

But if youíre joining crosswind, the recommended procedure is to do it mid-field.

And moving the recommended procedure (back) to crosswind joins over the upwind threshold rather than mid-field doesnít alter the desirability of departures overhead being above the circuit height. Whatever the joining procedures may be, spearing across the runway from the active side to the dead side mid-field at circuit height isnít a good idea.

Assuming left circuits are required, if Iím taking off North and want to track East, Iíll either remain on upwind until 3 miles and 500í above circuit height and turn right, or do a slow, left, climbing turn until Iím 500í above circuit height on the active side and depart overhead.
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 00:58
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Spot on Creampuff. I've never been keen on the mid-field xwind join. Joining over the upwind threshold gives you more time to slot in to the pattern, and everyone else knows where to look to find you. Some of the 'mid-field' joins I've seen have been anywhere from xwind to base leg..!
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 05:34
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Ah, the "mid-field" crosswind join.

But if youíre joining crosswind, the recommended procedure is to do it mid-field.
Where is this recommended please?

AIP ENR 1.1 para 48.5.3:

For aircraft arriving and intending to join the circuit from overhead,
the aircraft should descend on the non--active side of the circuit
and be established at its circuit altitude as it crosses the runway
centreline on crosswind, at between midfield and the departure
end of the runway
.
The tendency to join over the middle of the runway has come from those who like to hear themselves say the extra words, "joining mid-field crosswind".

Better to join at a position that minimises collision risk, which in most cases will be much closer to departure end as others have indicated (and conforms with AIP). However, traffic in the circuit on initial, crosswind or very early downwind may mean it is safer to join closer to the middle of the field (which also conforms with AIP).

If I may digress slightly, the phrase, "descending on the dead side" should never be used. How do others know if you have the dead side worked out correctly, or what runway's dead side you are using? Far better to say, if you must, descending to the North East or similar...

Last edited by scavenger; 18th Mar 2015 at 05:40. Reason: typos and omissions
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 06:10
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It's just the usual confusion caused by different stuff in different materials. The CAAP says:
6.1.1 ... When arriving at an aerodrome to land, the pilot will normally join the circuit on upwind, crosswind (midfield), or at or before mid-downwind.
...

6.8.2 Joining on the base leg is not a standard procedure. CASA recommends that pilots join the circuit on either the crosswind (midfield) or downwind leg.

...
6.6.4 Aircraft joining on the active side at circuit altitude should enter midfield at approximately 45 degrees to the downwind leg, giving way to, or following, aircraft already established in the circuit.
The only textual reference in the CAAP to something happening between midfield and the upwind end is:
6.6.3 Aircraft descending on the non-active side of the circuit should be established at circuit altitude by the time they cross the runway centreline on crosswind, somewhere between midfield and the departure end of the runway.
The CASA Education Officers say it should be midfield, not somewhere between midfield and the upwind end of the runway.

Of course, the AIP contains the authoritative rule, and the content of the CAAP and the CASA Education Officers' opinions are interesting but not authoritative. However, some people read CAAPs and listen to CASA Education Officers.
The tendency to join over the middle of the runway has come from those who like to hear themselves say the extra words, "joining mid-field crosswind".
I think you've overstated that.

I'd suggest it's because everyone with a little bit of experience knows that, as a consequence of this confusion or deliberate decision, some people join at midfield, some people join at the upwind end, some people join in between, and it's a good idea to give other people a hint as to which one of those you've chosen.

Last edited by Creampuff; 18th Mar 2015 at 06:56.
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 06:18
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You can start your Nav plan from a handy "Set Heading Point" rather than overhead the airport.

The SHP should be an easily recognisable feature in the local area within a few miles of the airport. You leave the circuit at the end of one of the circuit legs and then eyeball it to the SHP where you set course with no track error.
Getting back to the OP's departure related question, this UK procedure quoted is a very useful technique that avoids the whole problem of avoiding joining traffic. The "SHP" can even be two miles from the runway, in the position of whichever circuit leg you will use to depart the circuit. Depart in accordance with circuit and on track. What's not to like?
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 07:09
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The only textual reference in the CAAP to something happening between midfield and the upwind end is:

6.6.3 Aircraft descending on the non-active side of the circuit should be established at circuit altitude by the time they cross the runway centreline on crosswind, somewhere between midfield and the departure end of the runway.
And this is the only textual reference in the CAAP that describes HOW to join crosswind. The graphical references also all indicate something other than the middle of the runway.

I'd suggest it's because everyone with a little bit of experience knows that, as a consequence of this confusion or deliberate decision, some people join at midfield, some people join at the upwind end, some people join in between, and it's a good idea to give other people a hint as to which one of those you've chosen.
You've missed the point, which was that pilots have amended their practice (joining over the middle of the runway) to fit in with the call they like to hear or think should be made (joining mid-field crosswind).

The CASA Education Officers say it should be midfield, not somewhere between midfield and the upwind end of the runway.
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 07:51
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You've missed the point, which was that pilots have amended their practice (joining over the middle of the runway) to fit in with the call they like to hear or think should be made (joining mid-field crosswind).
I didn't miss the point. I said, in not so many words, that I consider the point to be incorrect.

Many pilots have "amended their practice" because they think the recommended practice is to join mid-field (if joining crosswind), and they think the word "mid-field" means what it says. They are also trained to 'speak up' if they think it would be helpful, and one of the items in the 'speak up' check list is "position". Mid-field crosswind is not the same position as crosswind over the upwind threshold. And as we know, many pilots don't join crosswind at the mid-field position.

Perhaps we could mandate some standard phrases for operations in the vicinity of non-controlled aerodromes?

If you consider that paragraph 6.6.3 of the CAAP is, in context, a crystal clear statement that the recommendation, if joining crosswind, is to join anywhere between midfield and the departure end of the runway, we'll have to agree to disagree. Depending on how hard you squint, it can be read as being about altitude.

(I'd prefer that all CAAPs be cremated, so that people got into the habit of referring to the authoritative sources, unaffected by the vagaries of paraphrasing and personal opinions. After all, according to the CAAPs: "A CAAP is not intended to clarify the intent of a CAR, which must be clear from a reading of the regulation itself...". Work that one out without having a brain explosion!)

Last edited by Creampuff; 18th Mar 2015 at 08:12.
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 08:17
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A CAAP is not intended to clarify the intent of a CAR, which must be clear from a reading of the regulation itself
Funny b*ggers, aren't they?
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 08:20
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It's like an MC Escher drawing, but in words.
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Old 18th Mar 2015, 12:28
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Getting back on track

Thanks for the advice guys. Just want to make sure I do the right thing so the instructor doing my BFR doesn't blow a gasket over my departure procedure.
Ah this Q is for a BFR.....it becomes crystal clear now...

BFR's, by many people's interpretation are an impost on their flying. The smart ones use it as an oppurtunity to learn about some changes, or even something totally new.

If you are in the latter group, then kudo's to you.

From your Q, it appears your BFR guy is taking you on a nav. I'd organise with hi/her a breifing session a day or two out before the actual flight, and you can go over what you plan to do, and how you plan to do it. That gives them the oppurtunity to point you to documentation you should read, or a full ground lesson

Time in the classroom is a LOT cheaper than airborne time...and I don't know any instructor unhappy with sitting in a classroom helping someone learn.

Goodluck with the review
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Old 23rd Mar 2015, 10:51
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Off the top of my head...

Any overhead departure made at midfield should be 500 ft above the circuit height. Thats usually achievable after an upwind , crosswind and half a downwind leg

The recommended departures are an upwind after 3 nm, or by extending the leg of a standard circuit on climb.

NVFR departures are a circling climb in the direction of the circuit until MSA is reached as it snot legal to fly outside the 3 nm without being 1000 ft above the highest terrain point, depending on the definition you take but route, outbound aid, or by sector altitudes.

I usually report out the exact method of departure during my departure call prior to runway entry and during the departure call.
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Old 23rd Mar 2015, 21:19
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[W]hy do we need the AIP and a CAAP for this again?
By definition, neither is required because the requirements "must be clear from a reading of [CAR 166x] itself".

Hopefully the new "Visual Flight Rules Guide" will contain a further and different paraphrasing of CAR 166x, thus adding to the 'clarity'.
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