Transition vs Departure 'South' Request

Hi All, (@Michael_O_Sullivan; @MannyG)

I would like to paint a scenario that I encountered yesterday while controlling on TS at EGSS yesterday.

There were about 4/5 aircraft in the pattern and it was all going OK! I was using runway 04. One pilot, @Michael_O_Sullivan, had done a few loops and then requested departure SOUTH. So once he had taken off he didn’t reenter the pattern … he continued NORTH, made a 180 and came back over the airport. He didn’t leave EGSS airspace and he was at pattern altitude. (I think, maybe Michael can confirm.)

My question is: should he have requested transition, should he have stayed in the pattern, should I have directed him to stay in the pattern and then given him a departure south clearance once he was further downwind?

In the end, he crossed the airport, effectively uncontrolled.

What do you think? How should I have dealt with this?



As soon as you announce a “departure to the ####”, it means that you are leaving their airspace to that direction and will usually get handed off to the departure frequency (if applicable). If you transition about the airfield, you are basically VFR while staying on frequency

Since it was on TS1, the best fix would be to PM the controller/aircraft and just ask questions or explain the situation to help them understand.


Ooh, that’s an interesting one…

GA aircraft would normally depart from the circuit (eg with a 09 runway, straight out would be for eastbound departures, crosswind for north/south, downwind for westbound and base for the opposite of the crosswind)

Tower controllers can give that as an instruction, or they may tell them to fly straight out for a certain distance before making any turns, to avoid other pattern traffic - at my local airfield we have to climb out for minimum 1 mile before turning.

If he crossed the airfield at pattern altitude… He shouldn’t have. Had he crossed slightly higher but below 5000ft AAL, he should’ve requested transition

(Feel free to correct any incorrect info on here)


I was climbing out, was about 2,500 when overhead, so I figured I was above pattern altitude and has requested to depart airspace so didn’t ask for transition…but I’m not sure if i acted correctly


In IF as long as you are under 5000 ft AAL you always request transition. Above 5000 ft AAL never do this.

Pattern altitude 500-1000 AAL for GA/light aircraft and 1500 AAL (Above Aerodrome Level) for jets.

Imho you should have stayed on requested course until reached 5000 AAL then fly over. This to avoid confusion and clutter on the frequency.

Sidenote: Situational awareness is key when flying in tower airspace and VFR.


I agree here. After requesting departure to the South (and needing to cross the airport to go South), I believe he should have requested a transition while still being under 5000 feet. If he managed to climb out above 5000 feet, he can just depart and tune out of Tower frequency.


Excellent question @GuyziB !

Trick here is that, and I believe there is a feature request somewhere - tower cannot initiate a transition altitude request, it must always come from the pilot. I frankly would not expect a transition request, but rather would expect the pilot to climb above the pattern altitude. Pilots are responsible for maintaining separation in a VFR flight.

As a pilot, I’ve been in that situation where I wanted to depart in a direction that will require a fly back over the airfield - what I usually do in these situations is to only request departure in a later pattern leg that is more convenient for my departure, for example in EGSS assuming northbound runway in use, I’d fly my upwind, crosswind and when I get to downwind I’d request departure - this way I am already flying south - avoids any issues.


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