August 2004Departments

Flying Smart : Aviation Speak

Closed traffic

From time to time, radio calls commonly heard at a tower-controlled airport will seep into the airwaves at a nontowered airport, causing students unfamiliar with them to scratch their heads. One of these is the phrase closed traffic.

If a pilot announces on the common traffic advisory frequency that he is "departing Runway 14--closed traffic," he's telling other pilots that he intends to remain in the pattern to do successive takeoffs and landings, touch and goes, or low approaches.

At a tower-controlled airport, you may hear the controller instruct an aircraft on final to "go around--maintain closed traffic." In other words, stay in the traffic pattern.

If you are not training at a towered airport, take time to become familiar with ATC instructions before you make your first visit to one with your flight instructor (see "Learning Experiences: Talking Before Thinking," March 2004 AOPA Flight Training). You can find explanations of all ATC terms in the Aeronautical Information Manual's Pilot/Controller Glossary. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor also includes a table of commonly used ATC instructions as well as information on airport signs and markings, lighting systems, and more. Download it from AOPA Online.