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To join the circuit at either an uncontrolled or controlled aerodrome, in accordance with the various applicable procedures.


1.  Layout of the Aerodrome Traffic Circuit

2.  Joining the Circuit

Uncontrolled Aerodromes

  • Join directly into the circuit
  • make a standard overhead join

Controlled Aerodromes

  • Request overhead join.  ATC also has the option of instructing the pilot to carry out a standard overhead join.
  • Join on downwind, base or final in accordance with ATC clearance.
  • Such a clearance may be for an aerodrome traffic circuit opposite to the published circuit for that runway.
  • Another possible clearance is to "cross overhead and join downwind".  This is not a standard overhead join.
  • A clearance to join downwind, base, or final does not absolve the pilot from giving way to other aircraft already established in the circuit.

3.  Joining Procedures

The pilot of an aircraft intending to land at an unattended aerodrome, may join the circuit provided that:

  • joining intentions are advised to aerodrome traffic; and
  • the runway-in-use and aerodrome traffic are properly ascertained; and
  • the aircraft is sequenced without causing conflict to aircraft established in the circuit; and
  • all turns are made in the direction appropriate to the runway-in-use.

4.  Standard Overhead Join Procedure

The standard overhead join procedure should be followed at unattended aerodromes when;

  • a pilot is unfamiliar with the aerodrome; or
  • is uncertain of circuit traffic.

This procedure is used to;

  • determine the runway-in-use; and
  • the position of traffic in order to sequence safely.


5. Radio Calls

Unattended Aerodromes

Controlled Aerodromes


  • Plan ahead
  • Pre-landing checks
  • Aircraft in the circuit have Right of Way



  • Blind spots
  • Closure rates

Information Processing

  • Mental models


1.  Direct-joining the Circuit

2.  Standard Overhead Join

The following procedures should be followed by pilots:

  • Advise aerodrome traffic of joining intentions.

"Matamata Traffic, ABC 

5 miles NW of the field, 

1700 feet,

joining overhead"

  • Approach the aerodrome at 1500 ft or above aerodrome elevation or 500 ft above circuit height.
  • Pass over the aerodrome in order to observe wind and traffic to establish runway-in-use.
  • Once circuit direction is established, make all turns in the direction of the circuit.

"Matamata Traffic, ABC


joining for runway 10"

  • Cross to the non-traffic side, and descend to circuit height.
  • Turn 90° across wind and pass sufficiently close to the upwind end of the runway.
  • Turn to join the downwind leg of the circuit at a point that ensures adequate spacing with any aircraft ahead or behind.

"Matamata Traffic, ABC

Downwind Runway 10,

Full Stop"

Standard overhead join video