Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

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PropFan
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Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby PropFan » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:39 am

Per FAA Advisory Circular 90-66A, the recommended traffic pattern altitude for light aircraft is 1000' AGL. Why, then, do so many airports in my area (and I assume elsewhere) specify 800' AGL?

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isnoop
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby isnoop » Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:55 pm

I'm sure it's not the case in most airports, but if you're flying the pattern on KBFI's 13R, you fly 800 so the heavies flying into Seatac don't give you a haircut. They get scary-close to you at the south end of the pattern.
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champguy
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby champguy » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:05 pm

I'm sure I wouldn't like flying under "Heavies" landing at Seatac, but my guess is that airports in Kansas with 800 foot pattern altitudes will be found to have runways under 3000 feet and cater to older slower planes which like to be able to see what is going on, and be in gliding range of the field throughout the pattern.
Besides, in Kansas, why would you climb over a thousand feet for a cross country anyway?
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PropFan
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby PropFan » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:22 am

What are you talking about, Champguy? Sometimes the corn gets that high! :D

Actually, this came to mind for me last week when I flew a multi-leg cross-country, where every airport was 4000 feet or longer and every one - except my home airport which is towered - had an 800-foot patten altitude. Same goes for the similar cross-country I'm planning this weekend. If I'm going to lose an engine in the pattern at one of those airports I'd rather be at 1000' than 800'.

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champguy
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby champguy » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:28 pm

I'd heard about that corn, and that they have been exporting it to other states for use as cell towers.
I assumed the 800 foot AGL patterns would be flown close in where you could make the field, but with longer runways suitable for heavy fast planes, it makes no sense to me either.
Mabe it is an issue of "change", as in not liking it, or resistance to conforming to how outsiders do things. But that would be Arkansas?
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Skyhawk
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby Skyhawk » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:30 pm

I have two theories on why 800ft traffic pattern altitudes are common in some areas.

1. More rag-wing aircraft are based there and it is generally accepted that rag-wing pilots get nose bleeds if they fly above 800ft.
or
2. In the 1960s the published recommended TPA in the AIM was 800ft, this changed in the 70s/80s to 1,000ft. Some airports didn't bother changing for whatever reason.
Real aeroplanes have batteries and starter motors.

PropFan
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby PropFan » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:22 am

Theory No. 2...very interesting. Being OCD, I've emailed the FAA for an explanation.

DJTorrente
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby DJTorrente » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:02 pm

Not your area, but the Linden NJ (KLDJ) pattern is 800 ft. to squeeze it under the approach airspace for Newark Liberty Int'l (KEWR).
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jackhodgson
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby jackhodgson » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:33 am

I don't know if any of the following is still the case, but...

Back in my Palo Alto Airport days we would sometimes fly downwind to the east of the airport, over the Bay with a TPA of 800 ft, and sometimes to the west, over land with a 1000 ft TPA.

I can't remember if I was told this, or just decided for myself, but I always figured the higher TPA was for noise abatement over the homes and businesses.

Skyhawk
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Re: Traffic Pattern Altitude: 1000' vs. 800'

Postby Skyhawk » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:40 pm

The 1,000ft may also relate to the safety minimum height over built up area.
Real aeroplanes have batteries and starter motors.


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