Question Training Series: Part 2

Hello everyone! This question training series is to help myself, as well as others, better understand the flight procedures that we must follow when in the Expert Server. The rules in the Expert Server are there to help create the most realistic flight environment. So understanding these rules is crucial in order to keep the Expert Server the way it was intended to be. Here is today’s question:

When given the instruction “Extend Downwind, I’ll Call Your Base”, do you divert from your current heading and get into the downwind leg of the traffic pattern? Or do you simply continue your current heading and wait for the controller to call your base (even if you are not in the official downwind leg)?

if you on your downwind, and ATC says that, keep going on downwind untill the ATC tells you to turn base, that’s all


As long as you keep on the downwind you should be fine, the heading for a downwind is just on opposite parallel from the runway. So for runway 18, 360 would be appropriate.

The important thing is separation to other aircraft

Then once told turn base

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Hey, sometimes pilots turn base and are getting to close to another plane already on final. Two things may happen:

  • separation is lost and planes are getting to close (traffic alert)
  • separation is sufficient but as a result both planes are to close on final and separation is lost on base to the runway. A G/A is then required
    To prevent both scenarios a pilot should fly back to a parallel heading to either right or left to the runwy. Hope this helped.
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Thanks! But is it wrong to turn towards the airport first to get closer and then turn again to become parallel? Or do you have to stay parallel until given the instruction to turn onto base?

Navigation is pilot discretion. Above all with absence of approach. Therefore you should align your flight path with the plane following ahead ideally. But it is not mandatory. But please don’t get to close to the airfield itself.
And please don’t confuse the tower controller an other pilots with unnecessary maneuvers ;).

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Yes. When entering a traffic pattern, you’re expected to follow all prescribed traffic pattern altitudes (1,000 feet AAL for single engine aircraft and 1,500 feet AAL for multi-engine) and headings, and maintain separation with other aircraft in the pattern.

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I wouldn’t, just turn downwind heading from wherever you are, if you are too close to another aircraft turn slightly away, but never towards the airport as this could be counted as base

Remember downwind is a parallel line to the airport

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Thanks for all of your responses! It looks as if there are different ideas of what would be considered correct. @CaptainSooraj would recommend getting into the traffic pattern whereas @Haribo would suggest maintaining a downwind heading as to not confuse the controller into thinking you are turning onto your base.

Me and @CaptainSooraj are getting towards the same idea.

The idea of simple if you need to extend downwind. Turn downwind (downwind heading) at the pattern altitude, keep safe distance from other aircraft and maintain downwind heading until told to turn base :)


But what if you are farther away from the airport than you would be in a standard traffic pattern? Would you turn towards the airport to get closer?

If you’re on a downwind heading and the controller tells you to extend downwind, stay on that heading. That’s what they are expecting; they will sequence you and instruct you to turn base in relation to your distance from the field.

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Okay, thanks everyone!

No as the downwind is not a set width, do not turn towards the airport as this can be classed as based even if you are going to turn downwind again :)

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Here’s how you usually enter a traffic pattern:


As you can see, you simply join the downwind at, and if instructed to, you extend it until told to turn base.

The width of a traffic pattern is usually 1/2 to 1 mile parallel to the runway for piston aircraft, and about 3 or so miles out for jets. But it’s really just eyeballed rather than a precise “fixed” distance.

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Yes as don’t turn if you get extend downwind, stay at that opposite parallel heading

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Thanks! I appreciate it!