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ADS-B Equipment Mandate


Updated Advisory Circular on Nontowered Airport Operations

AC 90-66B- Non-Towered Airport Flight Operations

In March of 2018 the FAA released a revision to the Advisory Circular on Nontowered Airport Operations, AC 90-66B. The revisionstandardizes traffic pattern altitudes, clarifies right of way authority for straight in final approaches and reinforces existing procedures. Some pilots have not reviewed this updated AC so here are some of the key takeaways from the document:

1.    Traffic patterns altitudes at most nontowered airports are now standardized at 1,000 ft. AGL.

2.    Instrument Procedures/operations

a.    The AC clarifies that airplanes ternating an instrument procedure with a straight-in approach do not have the right of way over VFR traffic in the pattern, and when circling to land, left-hand turns are standard, unless the approach procedure explicitly states otherwise.This has been upheld by prior FAA legal interpretations of § 91.126(b).

b.    Conducting any practice instrument approach, regardless of its direction relative to other airport operations, does not take priority over other VFR aircraft. Pilots should be ready to communicate on CTAF, discontinue the approach, and enter a traffic pattern as needed, based on the traffic saturation of the airport and/or the current runway in use, to maintain aircraft separation and aviation safety.

3.    As a point of interest, it should be noted that the FAA does not regulate traffic pattern entry, only traffic pattern flow. In other words, all turns in a traffic patternare to be to the left unless otherwise specified.FAA rule 91.126 and 91.127 addresses traffic pattern direction.

4.    Collision avoidance is a high priority-The FAA recommends turning landing lights ONwhen approaching the airport and during the final approach phase or during a straight in approach.

5.    There are occasions where a pilot can choose to execute a straight-in approach for landing when not intending to enter the traffic pattern, such as a visual approach executed as part of the termination of an instrument approach. Pilots should clearly communicate on the CTAF and coordinate maneuvering for and execution of the landing with other traffic so as not to disrupt the flow of other aircraft. Pilots operating in the traffic pattern should be alert at all times to aircraft executing straight-in landings, particularly when flying a base leg prior to turning final. The pilot on the straight in approach does not have right of way over aircraft in the traffic pattern.

6.    Aircraft within a 10-mile radius of a non-towered airport should continuously monitor and communicate, as appropriate, on the designated CTAF until leaving the area or until clear of the movement area.

a.    Initial calls should be made about 10 miles out when approaching the airport.

7.    To help identify one airport from another, the correct airport name should be spoken at the beginning and end of each self-announce transmission.

8.    Self-announce transmissions may include aircraft type to aid in identification and detectionbut pilots should not use paint schemes or color descriptions to replace the use of the aircraft call sign.

9.    Aircraft should always enter the pattern at pattern altitude, especially when flying over midfield and entering the downwind directly. A midfield crossing alternate pattern entry should not be used when the pattern is congested.

10. After takeoff the FAA recommends making the turn to Crosswind at 700 ft. AGL(or 300ft. below traffic pattern altitude).

11. When departing the traffic pattern, airplanes should continue straight out or exit with a 45-degree left turn (right turn for right traffic pattern) beyond the departure end of the runway and after reaching pattern altitude.

12. At a nontowered airport, do not broadcast “Any aircraft in the traffic pattern, please advise.” This is specifically discouraged in the Aeronautical Information Manual.