Exercise 15 - The Circuit



For the student to learn how to fly an accurate circuit.


All previous exercises as required.


Although circuits do not have the same significance in helicopter operations as they do with aeroplanes, they remain an excellent way of consolidating all the previous air exercises in one convenient sequence.


  • Lookout
  • Checks

Circuits 1

Teaching Points

    1. With the aid of a diagram, describe the circuit pattern to be used, specifying directions, speeds, distances, heights, etc.
    2. Where applicable, explain the use of the radio and the significance of Air Traffic Services instructions and clearances.
    3. Where there may be other traffic in the area, describe how to maintain separation and avoid wake turbulence.
    4. Where applicable, describe local procedures for joining and leaving the circuit.



    1. Demonstrate a circuit.
    2. Student practice.
    3. When circumstances permit, demonstrate:
      1. circuit spacing - speed and circuit size variations;
      2. wake turbulence avoidance; and
      3. acceptance and/or compliance with Air Traffic Service instructions and clearances.
    4. Student practice


Circuits 2 (Emergencies)

Teaching Points

When a reasonable standard has been reached in Air Lesson 1;

    1. describe the application of Exercise 14 (Emergencies) to the various segments of the circuit, as applicable to type and local conditions; and
    2. discuss overshoots.



    1. Demonstrate emergencies in the circuit.
    2. Student Practice


Circuits 3 (First Solo)

A student's first solo can be considered when the following requirements have been met:

    1. A safe standard has been reached in Air Exercises 1 - 14.
    2. A safe and acceptable standard has been reached in Circuits, Air Lessons 1 and 2. A guide to this standard is given below:
      1. Take-off and Landing

        Take-offs and landings should be reasonably smooth and consistently vertical. They should be with no yaw, sideways or rearward drift. Hovering should be well controlled.

      2. Transition and Climb

        A clearing turn should precede the transition as a normal airmanship manoeuvre. The transition should be smooth and well controlled as regards airspeed and power settings.

      3. Crosswind, Downwind and Base Legs

        The circuit should be consistently safe. The student should be aware of any inaccuracies and able to correct them without assistance from the instructor.

      4. Final Approach

        The student should be able to fly a safe approach and able to correct large deviations from the selected approach angle. Reduction of forward speed should be smooth and progressive. The approach should consistently terminate with a hover over the selected spot at the recommended height.

      5. Emergencies

        The student must be able to recognise and take corrective action for any emergency during the first solo trip, including an engine failure from any point in the circuit.

    3. Meteorological and air traffic conditions are suitable, the helicopter is fully serviceable with sufficient fuel, etc.
    4. Solo flying privileges have been certified in accordance with Pilot Licensing Handbook Volume 1, Chapter 2.
    5. he instructor is qualified to send the student first solo.
    1. Student practice (dual)
    2. Brief student for first solo. This should be a short briefing, given in the cockpit immediately prior to the solo, explaining to the student that weight and C of G will be different, detailing the duration of the solo practice and where the flight is to terminate.
    3. Advise control tower where applicable.
    4. Student Solo.


    1. This exercise should be introduced when a reasonable level of competence at transitions and the preceding exercises has been reached. Otherwise the result will be time-wasting and hard on the student's morale.
    2. When flying in the circuit encourage the student to strive for perfection, but not to the detriment of look-out by concentrating too much on the instruments.
    3. Impress upon your student to overshoot rather than trying to make a good approach from a poor one.
    4. Make the pattern easy to remember by use of landmarks and crosschecking of compass headings to ground features.
    1. Simulate all emergencies in various legs of the circuit so as not to become predictable, this is especially important when teaching more than one student at the same level of experience at the same time.
    2. Correct any persistent errors, but by this stage, students should be self critical enough to recognise and remedy most faults themselves.
    1. The first solo is a very important and never-to-be-forgotten experience in a pilot's career. It gains even more importance in the school environment, particularly with a student who is a slow learner. In this case it is generally necessary to play down the significance of the first solo to prevent low morale and an even slower rate of learning. Avoid referring to "average hours to first solo" or condoning a spirit of competition between students who are at the same phase of the training curriculum.
    2. The pre-solo flight should not exceed 45 minutes in order to keep fatigue to a minimum.
    3. It is not advisable to tell students that they are about to fly solo until just before the actual flight. The possible apprehension could delay the very flight that you are planning for them.
    4. Before sending the student on the first solo, carry out several dual circuits to confirm consistency and competency, and that suitable conditions exist.