When to Tell Aircraft Direction of Traffic to Make on Clearance

A common misconception of ATC trainees is that you must consistently tell aircraft the direction of traffic to make when you clear them, even if you’re not changing the direction. You do not always need to do this.

When To Tell Aircraft "After the Option, Make xx Traffic"

  1. You’re planning on changing their direction of traffic to make.
    Example: They’re currently making right traffic on right downwind, and after the touch&go you want to change them to left downwind. You then tell them “After the option, make left Traffic.” Once they’re on left downwind you do not need to keep telling them to make left traffic.

  2. You’re changing their runway.
    Example: VIC08 is making right traffic on Runway 18R. You want to switch him to Runway 18L.


  1. This is their first touch&go from calling inbound. You can use the image above as an example, just replace the runway change request with an inbound for touch&go request.

When Not to Tell an Aircraft "After the Option, Make xx Traffic"

  1. They’re already doing touch&goes on the same runway and the same direction of traffic.
    Example: VIC08 was cleared for takeoff 18R and was told to make right traffic. You do not need to keep telling him “After the option, make right traffic”

Verified with ATC Supervisor to confirm accuracy.
As always if you have any questions or concerns don’t be afraid to ask.


Good post! This is a common problem found in many tracking threads. Hopefully all aspiring ATC will heed this advice and apply it to their own controlling.


This is an awesome and well put together post. Hopefully this helps everyone out!


Thanks! I gave this information to my trainee, hoping it helps out the community as well.

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I am glad you created this. Those are good examples.

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For pilots, we as ATC don’t need a position report once you are cleared for the option or after your touch and go IF there is no traffic change for you.

Unless they are going to make a full stop, which in that case it would be helpful if they report position, full stop.

Thanks for that clarification I was under the impression that “cleared for the option” included a full stop landing. 🤦🏽‍♂️😂😂

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Well it does but it’s just courtesy on the pilots end if they just give a heads up to say that they are stopping


Let’s say an aircraft is arriving in from somewhere else and is planning on doing pattern work when they arrive. For the first pattern, should you say “after the option, make X traffic” and then from then on clear them normally

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Yes, when an aircraft calls inbound for touch and go, when you clear them, you can tell them “make xx traffic”. However this doesn’t mean you tell them that on every clearance. Only on their first clearance.


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