Typhoon landing

Circuits

Circuits

At RAF Coningsby we occasionally receive comments similar to this:

Why do your aircraft have to fly around the airfield creating disturbance? They come in to land, then they take straight back off again and fly around before doing it again! This causes lots of noise and is very disturbing! Why can’t they just come in to land?

This practice is known as flying a ‘circuit’ and is world-wide training technique. The reason we do them is so that the pilot is familiar with the landing profile, which varies with each type of aircraft. The pilot will fly the aircraft looking for a specific height, speed, and attitude in order to then bring the aircraft in to land in as regular and consistent a pattern as possible.

Typhoon landing during Exercise Frisian Flag 2012

The value in this procedure is that it means that wherever the aircraft is being flown in the world, in whatever weather or light conditions, the pilot can safely bring the aircraft in to land.

I was flying a Tornado during Op Southern Watch. It was the end of a long flight, I was low on fuel, I was tired, it was an unfamiliar airfield and there was bad weather; a dust storm, obscuring parts of the runway. However, I knew that if I flew the aircraft as per my training I would be in a position to put it down at the correct and safe touch down point. I flew that pattern and landed the aircraft safely. That is the value of circuits.

Circuits also have to be practiced at night. We use simulators wherever possible, but there will always be a requirement for some night and day circuits.

Photograph: RAF Pilot landing a Typhoon at Leeuwarden in Belgium during Exercise Frisian Flag 2012

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