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OpsSup2's Blog


  • March 13, 2013
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Hello All.

As you may have already heard... the recent Sequestration will impact the Operation of certain Air Traffic Control Towers around the Nation. ALB airport is one of many on the List to see potential changes to ATCT operations. Therefore, in preperation for what may come out of the wash... We are looking at the perameters for contructing a Segmented Circle in the evert this all come to fruition.


Are there any of you that have Segmented Circles at your airport? Would it be possible for you to take a photo and post it. We are interested in seeing how other Airports have constructed their Circles. [close up will be helpful]


As Always

Thanks for your knowledge and insight!

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That is what I was thinking.  Our airport does indeed have a segmented circle, although we are not required to.  It consists of steel frames covered in painted sheet metal mounted off the ground to stay out of the snow.  Since ours is not required, it is not lighted in any fashion, although the windsocks are.  Our segmented circle was installed many years ago because someone thought we needed one, but our current inspectors frequently remind us if it starts to deteroiate we should just remove it.

As a GA pilot, I do appreciate segmented circles.  They help locate the windsock from the air.  However I doubt many corporate and commercial pilots utilize it as much.  Some even leave me wondering if they know what a windsock is. ;)

@ MCWOps... Yes you are correct. Initially, we thought a segmented circle was needed if Tower was Open at "Night". Although according to 139.323 doesnt appear so, based on us having all Left-hand patterns.  I am still curious to see how airports are constructing their units, and what materials they are using.


(b) For airports serving any air carrier operation when there is no control tower operating, a segmented circle, a landing strip indicator and a traffic pattern indicator must be installed around a wind cone for each runway with a right-hand traffic pattern.

As Always,

Thank you all for your incite and knowledge!

So all you have to do is take it out of your ACM and you're good (assuming everything else mcwops said is true at your airport)?  Interesting...don't get any ideas if you're reading this, Andrew!

Mcwops,  I'm not sure what your hearing, but in 139.323, it talks about this if the tower is closed and you have right hand traffic.....then you need the segmented circle and all the other stuff.  If you are a part 139 airport and you have the segmented circle in your ACM, then it must be maintained, if you take it out of the ACM, becuse you have no right hand traffic, then you are OK....and the maintenacne issue is gone, but you still need the lit windcones....

Safety First!

I still haven't heard an answer to my original question, why does closing the tower require a segmented circle, especially at an airport with all standard left hand traffic patterns.  Segmented circles are only required at airports with non standard traffic patterns.  Trust me, I hear this from our inspector every year, because we have a segmented circle where it isn't required.

Granted, as a pilot myself, I do appreciate a segmented circle to help find the windsock from overhead.  Something tells me though that this is someone's kneejerk reaction to the kneejerk reaction of the FAA closing towers. 

Oops, I almost forgot...guess where the light switch is to lite up the segmented circle at airports with towers? Yep, its in the tower....if the tower is closed, guess what....Oops!  Better get those cinder blocks, some white wash paint and some heavy duty batteries for the those flahslights;;;;;that circle is plenty big....;-)


Safety First

MLU Ops,

I guess its like the rotating beacon, do you really need one at JFK, ORD, DFW....probalby not, but as you fly East to West....not a bad idea between those airprot checkpoints, especially at night.  I think the fAA gried to get rid of the beacons several years ago, but AOPA and the oithers went, it did not happen.  Well, to answer your quesiton, I have hundreds of hours in tailwheel aircraft and you better look at the windcone, day or night....and if you were brought up flying always use alla the available information before any runway behind you is waisted....use the full length all every time.

Safety First!


And yet, the Air Carrier aircraft WILL NOT land if the visibility function is not working on the AWOS.  I would like to know how many AC pilots actually look at the windsocks/segmented circles at controlled or even uncontrolled airfields.

If your airport requires a segmented circle, part 139, and there are night operations of an air carrier, this means the segmented circle needs to be lit up!  139.323(a)(b).  You need to look at the Ac for the segmented circle.

Safety First!!



Ours is lit (4 flood lights above the wind sock) but not in the best shape.  If we could get rid of it, we would just to not have one more thing to maintain.  It's just several concrete pads poured to form the circle.  Some are painted red and some white.  Nothing special about it.

Out of curiosity, why does closing your tower necessitate a segmented circle?  According to Airnav, all of your traffic patterns are standard left hand turns, which does not require a circle.  Are you on the list for complete closure, or only at night?  Most circles are not lit, and not used for night operations.

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