As you approach the end of your flight, you may suddenly notice that the plane is circling in the air at a very low speed and stopping in the same area. So, why might they be hanging in the air and rotating around themselves?
The moment we get on the plane, many question marks appear in our minds. “Why do we just wait for a while when the runway is empty before takeoff?”, “How come we don’t collide with other planes that are in the air right now?”, “Why do we open our sunshades during takeoff and landing?”…Sometimes the plane drawing circles in the air It can arouse curiosity just like other questions.
In fact, this turning action performed at a fixed point is for the safety of the aircraft we are on and other aircraft on the runway. Even in aviation “holding pattern” It is called and includes some procedures. Let’s see what is the purpose of it?
What is a “holding pattern”?
Planes sometimes hold up at a certain point, almost as if they were standing still. At the lowest possible speed, At this point, it waits by making small turns. This hold is called “holding pattern”.
Holding patterns, like all other regulations, are determined by air traffic controllers. To make the wait There is a certain speed, timing and rotation rate that they must adhere to.
To give an even more specific example; for a standard wait turns are made from the right, The average recline angle is at least 25 degrees and lasts almost 4 minutes.
We can also see a standard hold pattern procedure from the illustration below:
In this process, aircraft; landing gear and flaps They enter the hold without opening (the control surfaces of aircraft, usually located on the trailing edge of the wing, which increase the wing hump, first increasing the lift force (L) and partly the drag (D)). Okay, we understand the waiting procedures so far; Let’s get to our main topic. Why are they making this wait?
Why do planes sometimes just sit in the air and circle around the same area?
Air traffic controllers direct planes according to the density at the airport. To ensure safe traffic in the area in the name of In some cases, it may send aircraft a hold command because the airport is busy. For example, New York airport is so busy that frequent waits are required to separate all the planes.
Airport congestion is often determined in advance by air traffic controllers and pilots are given they need to slow down It is said. That’s why sometimes flights can take longer than planned. However, if the density has not been fully calculated in advance, this situation of waiting in the air may arise.
Airport congestion is not the only reason, weather conditions are also an important factor.
As you can imagine, weather can change all plane plans. Weather events such as heavy rain, fog, snow, low cloud ceiling and cluster clouds are both may affect pilots’ vision Besides, the aircraft may not move safely enough.
In such a case, planes can wait in the same way. Pilot, visibility until it reaches a healthy level It does not land and enters a holding pattern. In addition, if it has snowed on the track recently and the area needs to be shoveled, a wait may be made.
It is rarer than other reasons, but an emergency may also lead to a wait.
If there is a technical problem on the plane, pilots will continue until the problem is fixed. to save time They can request a hold to air traffic controllers. Additionally, a problem may have arisen not on the plane but at the airport.
For example in the field with an unknown object or an animal may be encountered on the track. A curious cat might be wandering around the airport because it’s bored. Maybe it could be equipment outage or any other situation. At times like these, the waiting begins again.
To summarize, the waiting pattern is a way to reach a position where security is ensured. “it is a distraction tactic” We can also say. In situations that can be considered abnormal, pilots save time in this way and wait in the sky because they cannot turn off the ignition and wait in traffic like cars. Of course, in all these waiting times, fuel must also be taken into account.
Don’t forget to check out other curiosities about airplanes:
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