Downwind to base turn in pattern

At which point from the airport should I start the turn from the downwind leg to the base leg if I am in an airliner?

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Full length of cone


You have to follow sequencing. If you’re in a pattern and there’s no sequencing, what you aim for is to turn so your altitude matches the cone. Basically your pattern is at 1500AAL and you’ll turn about halfway down the cone so you find yourself at the right altitude. Technically you could start decent while turning so you could turn a bit earlier. But there’s no set distance and remember number one priority is sequencing. No cutting in line and no need to go 50nm away…


In real life I do 45 degrees to the start of the runway you are landing on. Works pretty well.

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This will depend on a few things such as the ATC sequencing / other aircraft in the area / and general preference. You do not have to go to the full length of the cone every time. While many will create flight plans to do such, its not mandatory and its dependent on the variables mentioned above.

If you are flying with ATC, and you are told to enter a certain sequence, pay attention to the aircraft you are following. If you are about 5-10 miles from the cone in the downwind, you can turn whenever you are matching to that aircraft in terms of his distance to the runway, and you flying outward. This general spacing is enough to get you in and give him plenty of room. You’ll see radar controllers generally making a turn at this point in setting up spacing.

If you are flying patterns, you will generally be at 1500ft above the ground, thus not needing to go out beyond the cone. You can turn at approximately the area of where you meet the glide slope and then re-intercept on a short base.

Long story short, its up to you in relation to sequencing and how you want to fly. Pay attention to ATC sequencing, because an early turn before the person you’re supposed to follow can get you into trouble.


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