A listener to my podcast, Radar Contact, had a great question today about “Make closed traffic.” In today’s show, I said when a tower controller says, “Make closed traffic,” that means you are free to fly continuously around the airport traffic pattern. Once Tower says, “Make closed traffic,” you do not need renewed approval to fly around the pattern after each touch and go or low approach.
So here’s the question I got from Dave: “Your note on “Make Closed Traffic” moved me to write because the controllers at my home airport typically say “Make left/right closed traffic until further advised.” One controller just says “Make left/right closed traffic.” My instructor then asks whether the command is “until further notice”.
The answer is, neither “Make closed traffic until further advised,” nor “Make closed traffic until further notice” is standard phraseology. The Air Traffic Controller Manual says the correct phraseology is:
3-10-11. CLOSED TRAFFIC
Approve/disapprove pilot requests to remain in closed traffic for successive operations subject to local traffic conditions.
LEFT/RIGHT (if required) CLOSED TRAFFIC APPROVED. REPORT (position if required)
And here is the definition of closed traffic from the Pilot/Controller Glossary of the AIM:
“CLOSED TRAFFIC- Successive operations involving takeoffs and landings or low approaches where the aircraft does not exit the traffic pattern.”
I called the tower supervisor at Peachtree-Dekalb Airport in Atlanta to get clarification on this. He said the correct phrase is simply, “Make closed traffic,” or, “Closed traffic approved.”
As you can see, the definition of closed traffic is “successive operations,” meaning, you are authorized to make continuous circuits around the pattern until you request something different or until Tower amends your clearance.
Stop Pestering Me!
I believe the reason why some tower controllers say, “Make closed traffic until further advised” is because many pilots do not know the meaning of the clearance “Make closed traffic.” Some pilots pester Tower for renewed approval to fly the next pattern even though they received authorization to keep flying patterns without further approval when Tower says, “Make closed traffic.” In response to this pestering, some controllers have developed the habit of adding the phrase “Until further advised.”
By the way if you missed today’s Radar Contact show, check it out here. It had some pretty good poop; and the information contained in it was good too!