Circuit training is the first stage of practical pilot training focused on take-offs and landings. It involves the pilot making approaches to the runway, touching down and then applying power to take off again. This is undertaken in accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations, which are consistent with international practices.
Circuit training is undertaken at most airports, particularly regional and general aviation aerodromes. Each airport makes its own determination about the hours of the day or days of the week during which training may take place.
This is based on factors including:
- pilot demand
- the number and time of other regular flights into and out of the aerodrome
- runway capacity and configuration
- availability of air traffic control services
- the type of navigational equipment available at the aerodrome.
Training during both day and night is important for developing pilot competencies and experience using different types of navigational aids. Most airports prohibit circuit training at night; more information is available on the airport’s website.
The size and location of the circuit is controlled to ensure the safety of all aircraft operations at the airport. This may result in training being undertaken over populated areas, in close proximity to the aerodrome.
Arriving aircraft outside circuit training hours
For safety reasons, aircraft that are landing at non-controlled aerodromes are advised to use a circuit pattern on approach. This means that it may sometimes appear that aircraft are circuit training out of hours, when in fact they are following prescribed procedures for landing.
Airservices has produced a fact sheet on circuit training.