Jet Circuit height

I understand the circuit height for a jet is 1500ft AGL. Generally when entering an airports airspace it will usually give a height of between 4 and 7000 ft on the flight plan.

For example, I’m approaching Heathrow Airport and I’m going to land on runway 09R, I will approach from the south and will be descending to 7000ft MSL. As I come closer I will contact Heathrow Tower and announce my intentions, as I get closer to the airport the controller instructs me to enter right downwind for 9R but at this point I am at 7000 feet MSL which, I presume is known by controller? At this point, do I descend to 1500 ft ASL while continuing the right-hand circuit and obviously trying to keep a tight circuit because my final approach will obviously be much shorter due to my height!

I currently fly a Cessna 172 in the real world and I would generally always descend to circuit height well before I got near the airport. EIWT is quite a small airport however, we are surrounded by Dublin Airport and Casement Aerodrome which can make it a bit tricky. This is also why we must adhere to the circuit height before we enter the airport airspace.

I have been watching the videos but it doesn’t really state the circuit height approach if you are at a higher altitude?


If you’re an inbound IFR aircraft from another airport, you won’t be a pattern/VFR aircraft, thus you might not be flying your pattern legs at pattern altitude (depending on established STAR/Approach altitudes) as you might be descending from cruise altitude. If you are an inbound aircraft and you receive your pattern entry, just continue to descend as usual and fly the rest of your approach.

If you were an aircraft flying patterns from the airport or a nearby airport, then the 1500AAL pattern altitude would apply to you.


If you’re VFR, you should descend to circuit altitude. Or if ATC tells you “descend to pattern altitude.”

Otherwise, if you’re inbound IFR (with a flight plan, on a STAR, etc), you just follow your flight plan with the altitudes that you’ve entered.


Personally I always give pattern entrees to IFR aircraft inbound for landing above 10000 feet a “Continue inbound” which allows you to continue to descend at your discretion. When they are below 10000 ft I give them a pattern entree, however procedures are never the same at every airport.

1 Like

Ok so I don’t have to dive to 1500ft like a fighter 😂

See picture below, the yellow box represents a tight circuit which means I will be coming onto short final about 1500 feet?

The red box shows a bigger circuit with me coming onto final at about 3000 feet?

I take it the controller is going to be engaging with other outbound and inbound aircraft so I presume the controller will want a tighter , lower approached or yellow box in this case. I’ll also have to lower my speed to - 200 in order to keep a tight circuit.


A good rule of thumb for speed, when you’re in controlled airspace, is to not exceed 200 KIAS.

As for the shape of the circuit, it depends entirely on the sequence given to you by the controller, and whether you have to follow other traffic or not.

1 Like

Thanks for your replies.

I’ll enter a Circuit if instructed. Continue the circuit as I descend to ILS height average 4000MSL and wait for instruction.

I’ll usually be near 7000MSL so my decent won’t be to steep.

I must another user to fly with and practice ATC 😎

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