Lapeer Aviation Blog

“Odd North East” Altitude Rules

What altitude should I fly
When planning a flight, there are many decisions that a pilot needs to make. Where will I go? How long will it take?
How much fuel do I need? What altitude will I fly? In this post we will look at the question, what altitude we must fly.

There are many things to consider to help ensure the safety of flight, choosing a safe altitude is an important one. How can we help to ensure aircraft separation while flying in uncontrolled airspace? by flying the proper altitudes for the direction of flight. Let me start by saying that there is no substitute for proper visual scanning techniques when it comes to traffic avoidance. You must keep your eyes outside the cockpit looking for traffic as much as possible.

As for which altitude we must choose? Well, the answer is actually quite simple. For VFR traffic above 3000ft AGL, flying a heading of 000º to 179º you must fly an odd thousand plus 500ft (3,500 – 5,500 – 7,500 etc…) and if you are heading 180º to 359º you must fly an even thousand plus 500 (4,500 – 6,500 – 8,500 etc…). Following this simple rule will keep VFR traffic flying opposite directions separated by 1000ft. An easy way to remember this is with the phrase, “Odd North East”. Remember if you fly a heading of North 000º or Easterly including 179º you fly odd thousand plus 500ft, which conversely we could say “Even South West” however, I have always found it easier to remember “Odd North East”.

Next time you try to remember which direction is odd and which direction is even, just say to yourself “Odd North East” and you will never again forget.