Altitude Change during 360

Hi, do anyone know if an altitude change is allowed during a 360. Basically, if we’re on an approach an we’re asked to perform a 360 is it possible to keep descending or we need to preserve current altitude ?

Hey, thanks for asking that :)

You should descend to your assigned altitude, even on a 360. The 360 is actually made to make you loose a small amount of altitude.


If an approach tower is handling your approach. Then you can’t change your altitude unless the tower told you to.

If your flying VFR or flight following, then altitude is at your discretion.

If the controller has told you to climb or descend, continue doing so during the 360. If you are at the altitude they’ve assigned you, remain at it


Ok, thanks all. It’s much clearer now. Appreciate your help


Do these commands get issued IRL?

1 Like

"Turn Right/Left 360 for spacing’

Yes, again, this happens quite often in airports such as KDEN and KJFK/LGA, etc. If you go to the earlier messages of FR24 findings, you’ll see that happen. I’ve experienced it once or twice myself.

1 Like

Tower does actually initiate 360s usually end of downwind leg or mid downwind for spacing withing the pattern. Quite regular in the UK airfields e.g. EGTB and EGHH

We call it “orbit” here in UK

1 Like

MaxSez: @daniele_milizia. Well Dan if you do a 360/Orbit/Hold and perform a “Coordinated Turn” you’ll maintain the same altitude during the turn & recovery.
( maintain altitude in the turn, when complete resume Approach) Suggest you check Google, Wike or better yet the UTube video for proper technique.

1 Like

How does the ATC comment verbalise this??

Speedbird 1, orbit left for spacing


G-CTCC left hand orbits until cleared
G-CTCC 1 left hand orbit for traffic on final
G-CTCC end of downwind leg orbit left.

You get the the point. They can tell you how many orbits, where to orbit. Sometimes they state orbit left/right in your current position.


This could be a new 360 instruction come to think of it. Instead of orbit when given, we could give 360 on end of downwind or at base. make it easier for tower to sequence on busy days

@LouDon16… The command are right out of the AIM my friend. They are used RW.

1 Like

360’s are normally given on the downwind by the tower and not the final approach. We try to avoid giving a 360 on final…instead we use speed commands or issues the go around.

In that case you should altitude at your descretion and keep in mind that you are about to intercept the ILS (when you turn base) when determining your altitude.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.