Traffic Patterns

Purpose:  For training purposes, traffic pattern operations are used for the practice of continual takeoffs and landings.

Cyclic: Nose Attitude/Airspeed; Ground Track
Collective: Altitude; Rate of Descent
Pedals Trim (above 50 ft AGL); Heading (below 50 ft AGL)


  1. Upwind Leg – After takeoff,  climb at 60 KIAS and 22 MAP. Upon reaching 300ft AGL, begin a 90° turn to crosswind.
  2. Crosswind Leg -Maintain ground track by crabbing the helicopter into the wind. 50 feet prior to reaching 500 feet AGL, begin a level off by accelerating slowing to 70 KTS and reducing the power to cruise power. Upon reaching a predetermined point on the ground, begin a 90° turn to downwind.
  3.  Downwind Leg – Groundspeed will increase due to the tail wind. Fly the downwind leg at 70 KTS and 500 feet AGL using ground reference points to maintain ground track. At approximately, 45 degrees from intended spot of touchdown, slowly and smoothly decrease collective to reduce power to about 15″ MAP and maintain a 60 KT attitude and begin a 90 degree turn to base leg.
    Base Leg – On base, descend to 300 feet AGL and slow to 60 KTS. Plan the turn from base to final so as to roll out aligned with the point of intended touchdown.
  4.  Final -Fly the final approach leg at 60 KTS and 300 feet AGL until the appropriate approach angle is reached.

Performance Standards Private ACS Commercial PTS
Airspeed +10 KTS +5 KTS
Altitude + 100 Feet + 50 Feet
Heading + 10 Degrees + 5 Degrees
RPM + 2% + 2%
Common Errors

  1. Failure to comply with pattern instructions, procedures and rules
  2. Improper correction for wind drift
  3. Inadequate spacing from other aircraft
  4. Improper altitude and/or airspeed control
Safety Considerations

  1. Positive exchange of controls
  2. Guard Controls in the event the student applies abrupt control inputs
  3. Airport environment, traffic in the area, traffic in the pattern
  4. Be prepared to go-around in the event of settling with power configuration, excessively steep approach, or terminating at a hover height not safe in the event of an emergency