AIM 5-3-7 revokes the 175
knot prop limit and now has 200, 230, and 265 above 14,000 or as specified on
FAR 61.57(c) requires six instrument approaches (all the same or different),
holding procedures, and interception and tracking of navaid courses for meeting
required IFR currency.
An instructor must teach the direct, parallel, and teardrop holding entries
even though the applicant can chose not to use them. Requirement is to remain
within the airspace limits. The most
recent FAA presentations seem to be leaning toward a more liberal selection of
The hold is a way for ATC to
adjust traffic so that it fits into the separation standards of the FARs.
When the hold is not part of a charted procedure, ATC will try to give you a
Even when the hold is published, ATC may give a hold and direction that makes
entry to the approach easier.
The instrument PTS does not say the FAA method must be used.
The CFII PTS specifies the FAA method as part of the test.
A hold does not need to be exact, You just have to remain inside the airspace
on the holding side of the fix.
This can be done by doing the course reversal 90/270 by doing it as a 80/260
to allow for entry and recovery.
The same procedure can be used to make the procedure turn.
Always make your first 90 degreed turn to the holding side and your 260 will
be in the holding direction.
The Way Holding Should Be
The shape of the holding pattern is
as with a race track, rounded ends the give width and straight sides that give
the pattern length. The holding direction is always the length from the fix. The
right or left turn from the fix determines the width side of the pattern.
Draw the holding pattern on the fat of the thumb with the palm up on both hands.
Mark the fix near the upper outside corner. The diagonal line follows the line
of thumb through the fix and across the palm. The inbound course line is
extended through the forefinger.
Any entry from below the thumb
to the far side of the wrist is a direct entry. Any entry from the angle formed
by the thumb and forefinger is a teardrop. Any entry coming across the fingers
(fingers are parallel) or the palm will be a parallel entry. For Right pattern
draw line down from the right For left pattern draw line down from the left.
Reference outbound course:
Small pie is teardrop
Middle piece is parallel
Big piece is direct
outbound on a procedures inbound radial is a sure way of meeting someone.
Prepare your departure and arrival strategies ahead of time.
Desire to be good is required to be good.
An accident occurs when you have exhausted your box of options.
Getting away with something stupid is a learning experience, not an invitation
to try again.
If you become confused as to where you are in the holding pattern, reference
your inbound heading's location. It should be top for inbound or bottom for
Under the revised FARs you are now
required to log holds every 6 months for IFR currency. You are expected to use a
procedure that will keep you within the protected airspace of the holding
pattern. The entry guaranteed to keep you in the airspace is the course
reversal. Both the parallel and teardrop entries can be substituted by the
First you slow down. Entering holding patterns with excess speed increases the
probability that you will fly out of protected airspace. the examiner will not
accept reduction of speed sooner than three minutes before reaching the fix. You
can get ATC approval if you wish to slow up sooner, however.
You much remember second to just
turn to the outbound heading over the fix, perform the course reversal to the
left for right standards holding patterns and to the right for non-standard left
patterns. Draw it out, if you must. Go for tripling the wind correction angle
while outbound but maintain your standard rate bank angles. Ask for two, three
minute legs to give you more time to study your plates.
For the Practical Test Standards
(PTS) you will need to know but not use the FAA recommended entries. An
applicant who uses other than the recommended procedure must remain within the
holding pattern protected airspace. Reference: AFS-600 Designee Update Vol 6,
No. 2. April 1994. After you have your instrument rating it doesn't make any
difference how you do a hold after you get your instrument rating, as long as
you remain in protected airspace. The FAA is de-emphasizing the 70/110 method of
determining holding pattern entries.
Aircraft holding patterns are a
way of parking or delaying an aircraft along a route much as a railroad might
use a railway siding. It may be used as a descent manoeuvre which avoids terrain
or as an altitude stacking procedure to align aircraft as might be required in
non-radar IFR situations. Holding is done for the convenience of ATC. Do not let
their convenience jeopardize the FAR mandated fuel requirements. Be prepared to
give minimum fuel advisories or to declare an emergency. Holding patters are
used for traffic separation en route, for sequencing at terminals and as part of
the approach procedure. The hold provides protected airspace. You may use a
non-standard entry if it keeps you within protected airspace. Examiners may
question you about the standard procedures if you choose to
fly a non-standard pattern.
Flight instructors are required
to teach the recommended holding pattern entries defined in the Instrument
Flying Handbook and the AIM. This is so even though other entry procedures may
enable the aircraft to enter the holding pattern and remain in protected
You are more likely to get
vectors than a hold. If a delay becomes part of the approach, slow down. Advise
ATC to he can see that you are helping the process. Organize your radios and
frequencies. If a hold is called for you will do right turns unless left turns
are directed or published. Get the EFC time. If you have trouble with Zulu time
get it confirmed in local time. You are free to make your arrival to the hold in
any manner but first you must fly to the fix.
Standard procedures say when
specific actions are required, not how they are to be made. This is the
difference between procedure and technique. The way you do things when flying
the airplane will give you habit patterns that will protect us when overload
situations occur. Habits do not replace checklists, they do get you moving in
the proper direction and flow.
There are eight possible holds
at any fix. Four of them are direct entries and four require that you reverse
direction. The holding instruction always gives you the initial outbound course.
Once established you just fly the times and pattern
Holding is rarely done and when
required is usually a direct entry. Holding on the ground is replacing in-flight
holding. Expect Further Clearance times are indefinite when a hold is required.
Be prepared to evaluate fuel situation whenever given a hold. An hour's fuel is
a minimum reserve when holding. The most critical requirement is that you know
your margins and options.
G.A. aircraft have many options in lieu of a hold. The FAA system for holding
should be discarded once you are IFR rated. Historically holds were either
teardrop or direct. For me, they still are. New wind drift correction on the
outbound are now predicated at times-3 of the inbound. I still prefer the
times-2 correction. Regardless of the holding instructions, make sure you
clearly understand what to do next and what to do after that.
Course Reversal Entries
The direct entry is most common and easy, at the fix turn to the outbound
heading for one minute and fly inbound to the fix. If you can fly directly
through the fix on the outbound heading with less than a 30-degree turn
(teardrop) you fly for forty-five seconds and execute a course
reversal initiated by a 90-degree opposite to the pattern direction and a
270-degree inbound (Course reversal). This turns you around and inbound to the
fix and holding pattern.
If you must turn 90-degrees on
arriving at the fix for the outbound heading, you will either make a direct
entry in right turns to the right or left turns to the right (parallel) This
will require you to fly forty-five seconds before initiating a
course reversal from a right 90-degree turn and a left 270 back to the inbound
intercept to the fix (course reversal). If your entry requires a left turn it
will be either a direct entry to left turns or a left 90 outbound for one minute
and then another left 90 followed by a right 270 inbound to the fix and right
turns in the pattern (course reversal).
The above procedure is now
allowed by FAR and is simplistic in that all procedures that require a reversal
of direction are preceded by two opposite direction 90-degree; turns followed by
a pattern direction 270 back to the fix. They may be performed in the immediate
vicinity of the fix or after flying outbound on the inbound radial for
forty-five seconds. The outbound straight leg seems to be an option predicated
on the wind.
The hold is a race track pattern
which, in no-wind conditions, is made up of one minute straight legs and one
minute turns at each end. At one 'corner' of the pattern is a FIX. A FIX may be
the airway intersection of two VOR radials, a VOR, an NDB, by DME along an
airway radial or by direction. The pattern is normally flown at an economic fuel
saving speed. If you are being flown toward a holding pattern by ATC, make a
request for a lower (endurance) speed en route. This lower speed may eliminate
the holding requirement. Always plan to slow down before reaching the fix.
Sooner is better than too late. The turns are not normally timed since a
standard rate turn is used and may be more or less than 180 degrees for windage.
There are rules about what angles radials are used to intercept at
intersections. When procedures are designed, the protected airspace takes into
account things like fix uncertainty due to poor navaid geometry. Once
established in the holding pattern at an intersection fix the needles will be
centred at the fix, both needles will be off on the outbound leg and one
centred on the inbound leg. At a VOR the fix is reached at the moment of
TO/FROM reversal. The needle is off to one side on the outbound leg. NDB holding
will be covered later. The first big step to holding is aircraft control. You
must have your power/trim settings for the aircraft so locked in that neither
airspeed nor altitude become distractions or added work load.
Historically, the name of every
intersection made some reference to something near that location. Originally the
words were spelled out. With the advent of computers all intersections consist
of five letters which may phonetically resemble the original. LODI became LODDI,
RIO VISTA became REJOY and VISTA. Only an active imagination or an old memory
bank makes possible many of the associations. VORs have only three letter
Early attitude indicator gyros
were quite subject to precession if a continuous turn were made. To prevent this
as a problem holding patterns were designed with one-minute straight legs.
Hence, the holding pattern as we know it.
In the real world of holding
where it is an every flight occurrence at certain Class B airspaces, the pilot
knows just by 'situational awareness' what he must do to position the aircraft
to the fix and into the holding entry. You just know what to do and how to do
it. There is no need for diagrams, angles, or mental gymnastics.
The General Aviation pilot will
do more holds getting the IFR rating that he will ever do the rest of his flying
life. It is because of this lack of use that the pilot must have an easy,
available method for interpreting the clearance and determining the holding
Information provided by ATC:
direction from the fix is given (confusion issue) including the radial or
bearing to hold. This holding direction is the side to hold on but is not the
course for the inbound direction.
Know when you arrive at the fix and make your outbound turn within six
One minute holds are made up to and including 14,000’. Know that the true
airspeed over indicated airspeed increases with altitude.
Using a DME hold requires that you change your time for a leg into a distance
for a leg. Thus, at 90 knots a leg would be 1.5 miles for one minute. Using DME
you would turn after 1.5 outbound regardless of time.
--Expect further clearance (EFC) is required information for a hold. If ATC
fails to give it, ask for it.
You are expected to used all available resources.
You start timing the outbound leg of
intersection, VOR, and DME holds when you are on the selected outbound heading
as corrected for wind. The traditional practice has been to double the outbound
wind correction angle on the outbound heading. As of January 6, 1995, the AIM
uses the word triple' instead of double. At an NDB or if you can establish when
abeam a VOR or a fix start your time when abeam. VOR: Outbound timing starts
when to/from indicator reverses as you pass abeam the VOR.
Intersection: Outbound timing starts at completion of outbound turn since
magnetic bearing cannot be determined.
NDB: Outbound timing starts when ADF relative bearing is 90-degrees minus
drift correction angle.
The space available for the hold is
fairly standardized both as to length and size to each side of the inbound
course. There is a primary area, manoeuvring zone, and secondary area. The
overall shape is like that of an elongated avocado cut in half lengthwise. The
fix is on the course line. One nm away, at right angles to the course at
the fix, is the centre (nameless) of the radii for the small end of the avocado.
A five nm 180 degree area of arc forms the small end of the avocado. Ten nm away
on the outbound course there is another point (nameless) on the same side of the
course but two nm miles from the course. The six nm radii from this point form
the big end of the avocado. The offset from the course line of these two points
gives both ends of the manoeuvring zone. The course line is thus offset from the
centre line of the avocado by one nm on the small end and two nm on the big end.
Draw an avocado. The holding
inbound course line is offset to the non-holding side one mile from the centre
of the arc of small end and is offset two miles to the non-holding side of the
arc of the large end. The radius of the small end arc is 5 miles plus a two-mile
secondary zone which extends like a heavy skin around the avocado. At its
longest the avocado is 25 miles long. At the large end it is 15 miles wide and
at the fix about 14 miles wide. The holding side gives us a over half an avocado
that is 25 miles long, and widens from 7 miles to 10 miles on the holding side.
The non-holding side is 23 miles long and 7 miles wide.
Holding patterns are used
instead of procedure turns to reduce the amount of airspace required. The
procedure turn can be any time you want as long as it is to the correct
(protected) side. Caveat: Some Category A-only require reversal within 5 miles.
It does not need to be as depicted unless it is a teardrop. Personally, I much
prefer the 90° /270° since it is quicker and reduces potential wind
There are specific rules about what angles radials are allowed to intercept at
intersections. In theory, you could define an intersection of the 180 radial off
one VOR and the 190 radial off another, but in practice the two cross at so
shallow an angle it would be impossible, as you discovered, to locate the point
accurately enough using VOR receivers. When procedures are designed, the
protected airspace takes into account things like fix uncertainty due to poor
navaid geometry. So, even though it looked like you were having troubles finding
the fix, you were probably still within the protected airspace, which is all
They are; NORTH (exactly 360 but ranging between 340 and
NORTHEAST (exactly 045 but ranging between 020 and 070);
EAST (exactly 090 but ranging between 070 and 110);
SOUTHEAST (EXACTLY 135 but ranging between 115 and 160);
SOUTH (exactly 180 but ranging between 160 and 200);
SOUTHWEST (exactly 225 but ranging 200 to 250);
WEST (exactly 270 but ranging between 250 to 290);
NORTHWEST (exactly 315 but ranging between 290 and 340)
Sum-of-the-Digits. (Use numbers
Notice, bold digits when added equal 9.
Notice, italicized digits when added equal 7
Notice, normal digits when added equal 2 (2+9+0 = 11; 1 + 1= 2 )
The Pilot Must Know:
How to fly from cruise to 90 knots
and back again at altitude
Right from left
That a radial is
from a VOR, a bearing is TO an NDB
The numbers and terms for major headings of the compass
How to get reciprocals quickly. (+ 2 and
Using the DG to get reciprocals, 30 and 45 degree angles
How to fly with minimum effort TO/FROM a VOR radial.
How to intercept and track a given bearing to an NDB
How to quickly tune and set radios is important.
The holding instructions are not complete without the Expect Further Clearance
communications are guaranteed at MEA and expected at IAF and at Missed Approach
altitude but not necessarily on approach.
Where possible ATC is required to detect and advise any time the holding
airspace is exceeded. However, it is the pilot responsibility to maintain the
hold, not ATC's.
If, when under radar, you should ever acknowledge that you have visual contact
with pointed-out traffic it becomes your responsibility to both see and
avoid. ATC has effectively handed this responsibility to you until you should
again tell ATC that you can no longer see the traffic. Better to not see??
Yes the ATC system does fail but more common are mistaken frequency assignment
or a dropped handoff. You can protect yourself by anticipating your next
frequency. This can be done in your preflight planning, referring to your
charts, using the A/FD listings, or most easily listening to the handoffs that
occur in front of your flight. The last method is best because it is the least
likely to be out-of-date. During busy and non-busy periods ATC will eliminate or
combine station frequencies. When you know which period exists during your
flight you can anticipate the required frequency.
No matter how you determine your holding procedure, your knowledge of
where you are in relationship to the fix, the holding pattern, your arrival and
departure routes are essential givens. The perceptual key to successful
holding is to remain oriented. Don't even think about orientation until you are
headed toward the fix or on an intercept to one of its legs.
Each of the three types of holds
have certain characteristics as to entry, number and direction of turns, NAV/OBS
changes, and orientation difficulties. The better they are understood the better
you will stay oriented. The different kinds of holding fixes, the multiplicity
of holds, the variations of instructions all contribute to the orientation
problem. Since intersections are seldom at right angles (90 degrees) some
eyeballing of the holds and turns will be required in actual practice. The
airspace allotted for holding takes into account a considerable amount of pilot
If you must... ALWAYS-ALWAYS
DRAW THE INBOUND SIDE AND HEADING FIRST when drawing any holding pattern.
Doing this will at least improve the chance of getting the turn direction
correct. As you go through the following study process first do the drawing. Get
away from the drawing as soon as you are able. It is essential that you
be able to mentally visualize any hold from an oral description consisting of
only a fix name, a direction and the turn direction. i.e." Hold at RAGGE, south
in left turns." or "Hold southeast at SNUPY." When no direction for the turns is
given 'standard' is right turns.
A requirement for any holding entry
is that the pilot be able to make some predetermination of wind direction and
velocity. Your best insight will be your own in flight calculation of the wind.
Do all you can to get the wind direction and velocity while you are flying to
the fix. Your second best insight will be the FSS forecasts for your altitude.
Once you know the wind, triple
your wind correction on the outbound legs for at least one minute of that leg.
(As of January 6, 1995, the AIM uses the word 'triple' instead of double.) This
is a DR skill. Wind correcting headings are used on both the outbound (double
the outbound) and inbound to fix courses. Wind correcting times are also used on
the outbound headings to establish one minute inbound legs.
Course is the line you are
trying to fly, heading is where the nose points in order to fly the course line.
Course and heading are the same only when there is no crosswind. Since the
holding side is "protected" airspace considerable allowance is made while the
pilot tries to sort out the wind effect. Three times around should get the
pattern into pretty good shape.
At this point is important for you,
the pilot, to know how to get your reciprocals quickly and accurately. It is
wise to memorize the eight cardinal headings and their reciprocals. The
difficulty of adding or subtracting 180 can be overcome by several methods.
Always say course, headings, bearings, or radials as consisting of three digits.
You should have started this way as a student pilot.
Easy way #1
Just set the original number at the bottom of the OBS dial.
Easier way #2
Add 200 subtract 20/subtract 200 add 20.
Since you need to either add or
subtract 180 degrees To a number less than 180 add two hundred and subtract
twenty i.e. 045 + 200 = 245 - 20 = 225 To a number more than 180 subtract 200
and add twenty. i.e. 266 - 200 = 66 + 20 = 086
Easiest way #3
Since every number on the compass consists of 3 digits, just add or subtract two
from the first two digits. The third digit remains the same. Course = 0 4 5
Course 2 2 5
becomes 2 2 5 0 4 5
Take two from first digit and add it to second digit; take two from second digit
and add to first digit.
Another way: The last digit of
reciprocals always remains the same. The middle number always increases or
decreases by eight. There are only four different initial digits. First
write down the last digit. To find the first digit you must know how the numbers
on opposite quadrants of the compass rose change. The first digit threes are in
the opposite quadrant from the ones. The zeros are opposite the twos. It works
but might not be that easy under pressure.
Knowing the sum of the digits
for all 90, 180, and 270 points from a given heading are equal. For example, 135
degrees adding the digits equals 9. The 180 degree reciprocal is 315 which also
equals 9. The 90/270 degrees are 225 and 045 and the sums of the digits equal 9.
This will work for any compass points including 45 degree intervals, 22.5 degree
intervals and 11.25 degree intervals. Occasionally, during a turn you may have
failed to determine a 90 or 180 degree heading point. The above sum of the
digits knowledge may save the turn. Likewise, you can just reference the initial
heading in an appropriate 90 or 180 position on the HI.
Mark all published holding
patterns on plates and area charts with a diagonal line having arrows and
numbers for headings in both directions.
Highlight important frequencies,
directions, times, and altitudes. Be aware that once you have learned the
‘approved’ FAA method and obtained your certificate you may want to use only the
‘course reversal’ method explained later.
A holding fix at an NDB or equivalent is usually flown direct to the NDB
using the ADF. If a specific bearing for arrival at the NDB fix is given then an
intercept procedure is required. Flight using the ADF requires that very
accurate headings be flown. An accurate heading makes it possible to
determine the effect of any wind. Flight into a crosswind will be tracking
accurately on course if the heading is constant while the needle likewise
remains constant even though not on '0'. Loran and GPS makes tracking so easy
that the FAA will not allow it.
In many respects holding with an
ADF is easier than with a VOR fix of any kind. With the ADF you always know
where the fix is. You can always fly right to the fix even if by a circuitous
route due to winds. Once at the fix you determine the bearing on which ATC has
determined the holding direction and if non-standard turns. No mental reversals
of inbound/outbound courses are required. No frequency changes. Just get there
and do it.
Diagramming the eight possible
patterns around an ADF fix is beyond my computer ability. I suggest that you do
so on a sheet of paper. By numbering from the top from one to eight you begin
with #1 at the top left until #8 is above the line to your left
Using a clockwise eight count
for each pattern from 12 o’clock we find that only #4 and #5 give you instant
inbound entry into the pattern. #1 and #2 require that you turn to depart the
fix at a 30 degree angle from the outbound direction for one minute before
tracking back to the fix the classic tear drop entry. #4 and #7 allow you to
track outbound on the inbound bearing before turning back to the fix through the
holding pattern. #3 and #8 Require that you fly outbound on a heading until the
ADF needle points tracks to the 30 degree point be hind you. This should take
one minute. and another minute turn back to the fix.
Once you have tracked back to
the fix you are established in the hold and should begin turns in the assigned
direction. Your outbound leg is made on a heading designed to correct for the
wind as guessimated or forecast. The preferred procedure is to determine the
inbound correction required. Once the inbound correction has been approximated
be sure to triple the angle of correction of correction on the
outbound leg. (As of January 6, 1995, the AIM uses the word 'triple' instead of
double.) This will make the holding pattern egg shaped as required by the wind.
One of the beauties of the ADF
is that it is relatively easy to determine when to begin timing the outbound
leg. When the Fix is at the 90 degree point, left or right, start your time. In
no wind conditions the needle will be at the 30 degree rear position at the
completion of the one minute outbound leg. The + effect of the wind will
change the angle slightly as well as the outbound time required to set the
inbound leg time to one minute.
Fly a NDB holding pattern in
calm conditions and note how the needle will be at 90/270 as when to begin
timing the outbound course. Note how needle will tract to your rear, left or
right, 30 degree position when you have reached your time for beginning your
inbound turn. Next try this on a windy day and note how the needle is not nearly
as much help in either determining your timing points or wind correction angle.
NDB Holding Simplified
In the "real world" bearings are
seldom flown exactly. If the NDB can be located on a LORAN or GPS such flight is
very easy. (Flying an NDB approach to an airport becomes a very accurate affair
if the airport location is put into the LORAN or GPS.)
When holding at NDB the first
inbound turn is flown direct to the NDB. The heading required to fly direct
gives some indication of wind correction required. Make a guess as to the amount
of wind correction required. Triple this correction angle into the wind on the
outbound leg. When you come out of the turn to your inbound heading if the ADF
needle is '0' then your wind correction is correct. Change your inbound heading
to correct for the wind again. Make any fine adjustment required. Repeat the
procedure as necessary to correct for wind and time.
Identify fixes using an NDB bearing
is a check-ride Catch 22. There are FAFs that use a wing tip bearing for
Regarding Frequency changes, turns,
and OBS settings, there is a pattern for you to learn.
The NDB hold requires no changes of any kind.
The VOR hold's only change is required after crossing to set the reciprocal
of the assigned radial on the OBS.
Direct entries #4 & #5 require no changes.
Teardrops #1 and #8 require only an OBS reversal on the #1 OBS.
Parallels holds # 3 & #6 and direct entries #2 & 7 require a complete change
in frequencies and OBS
settings. Each hold requires a sequence of changes.
There is a pattern to the changes in frequency and OBS settings required for
each hold. By working through each hold slowly you can learn the appropriate
pattern. I would suggest that you memorize and practice making frequency/OBS
changes on the ground so that every knob will be turned initially in the right
direction and the right amount. Anything you can do to lighten your load under
single pilot IFR should be practiced.
For the intersection hold the
interception settings of the two VORs are maintained until reaching the
intersection and making the initial turn. It is desirable to set all NAV/OBS on
the outbound leg and reset/check them on the inbound leg. When flying to a
holding fix, marked by an intercepting VOR radial, don't wait for more than a
one dot movement of your intercept needle before slowing down. Set up a timing
intercept radial for NDB and VOR fixes as Poor man's DME. (See instructor)
One of the ways to better plan
holding is to develop a course/ VOR #1-OBS/VOR and a #2 VOR/OBS chart. Chart
should Specify intercept heading, course inbound, and all headings after turns.
The word time or the letter T should be written under all headings that require
timing. The #1 VOR should always be the one being tracked to or from. The #2
should always be the interception one. Although it may seem easier in some
patterns not to do this it can lead to complete disorientation under stress
Remember that on outbound legs
while established in the holding pattern the needles will not be centred. The
degrees of turn inbound to intercept the inbound leg of the parallel hold may be
increased /slowed to allow easier interception and tracking to the fix.
Changing the OBS
Once you have a good command of how to enter the hold, practice using
the OBS. Try to turn the shortest distance. Some settings are easy to misplace.
If a setting is 039, set 040 and back off a fraction. Watch out for parallax in
your view of the numbers and setting. Be aware than some older dials have the
OBS setting on the bottom rather than on top. If you have trouble getting
reciprocals, just put your number on the bottom. If the number you want on the
OBS is to your right, turn the OBS knob to the right. One full twist between the
finger and thumb will approximate 90 degrees. Practice setting changes required
for every hold until you can make required changes in less than 5 seconds.
There are three different holding pattern entries
direct--You make a standard rate turn to the outbound heading from the
fix. and time when on the outbound heading.
make a 30-degree turn from the fix to the left for right turns (right for left
turns) and time from the fix. Draw 30-degree angle on chart.
turn outbound and time leg before turning left for right turns (right for left
turns) and time from the fix. Inbound direct to the fix for holding pattern.
There are two different holding
right (standard) need not be assigned or published
left - must be assigned or published
We will always be flying toward
the fix. Every hold will be to the right or left of the course to the fix. Turns
are either standard or specified (left). The major variable is in the
instructions for the hold.
Frequently the holding direction
makes a second approach clumsy. An experienced controller will reverse the
holding direction if he knows ahead of time that you plan to do multiple
approaches so that your entries can be direct..
Holding Directions (Repeated material
Every four way intersection has eight
Four are direct entries.
Of the four direct entries the two to your left are in left turns and the two to
your right are in right turns. Note pattern: Left/left and right/right.
Two are teardrop.
Two are parallel
The teardrop and parallel are ambidextrous; the patterns to your right are in
left turns, those to your left are in right turns. Pattern: Left/right and
The teardrop entries are both
across the fix extending in your line of flight.
The parallel entries extend to the left and right on the approaching side of the
Diagramming the Hold
Use a + shape to denote the fix. Let
the top of the + be the direction of flight. You are arriving from the bottom of
the + and flying toward the top of the +. You always fly to the holding fix. The
fix is the middle of the +. Draw a + and put in the two teardrop holds. They
will always be to each side of the top vertical. Draw another + fix and put in
the two parallel holds. They will always be below the horizontal and extending
to each side. Draw a third + fix and put in the four direct entries. Two will be
to each side of the bottom vertical. Two will be above the horizontal and
extending to each side.
Number the holds of a four inch
+ from one to eight clockwise, beginning at the top right. Now draw small
R-arrows and L-arrows along the patterns on the outbound legs to confirm turn
direction. Begin drawing every series of arrows on the inbound leg of the
holding pattern. You should be able to detect a pattern. There is a relationship
between the location of the fix and the turn direction. Look for it.
We are going to begin with the four
direct entry patterns. Patterns 3 & 8 initially and then 5 & 6. A direct entry
means that the pattern turns and holding pattern side relative to your heading
are to the same side. Right side, right turns; left side left turns. Just fly to
the fix and start turning. In a direct entry, once you have flown through the
fix, set up the fix on your radios.
Direct entries #5 and #6 which
extend toward you from the fix do not require any frequency or OBS changes. The
frequency/OBS changes for direct entry #3 is paired with parallel entry
#4 and direct entry #8 is paired with parallel entry #7. (covered later)
#5 and #6 Direct Entries
Now draw the intersection but put only
patterns 5 & 6 on the drawing. They should extend toward the bottom of the page
like two sausages side by side. You are flying (drawing and then walking)
directly up the centre line of the street toward the fix. This is called the
inbound leg. The pattern to your right (#3) is in right turns and the pattern to
your left (#8) is in left turns.
#5 and #6 Radio Set
No NAV/OBS changes are required whether
you are flying to an NDB, VOR or intersection for patterns #5 & #6
#5 and #6 Clearance
The area of student difficulty in
orienting to #5 and #6 lies in the terminology of the instructions for the
holding pattern at the fix. The holding direction is given as opposite to your
direction of flight. You are flying north and told to hold SOUTH. The holding
radial may be given as the same or the reciprocal to your course depending on
the location of the VOR (ahead or behind).
If the holding direction is opposite to your direction of flight; the
pattern extends toward you from the fix, you don't need to make any NAV/OBS
changes and the entry is direct.
#3 and #8 Direct Entries
Yow draw a new intersection, you are
flying toward the top of the page, and put in patterns 3 & 8. These should
extend to the side like wings. They are on the upper side of the horizontal
line. You are flying (driving, walking) toward the fix and the patterns extend,
wing like, to your right and left. The one on the right (#3) is in right turns;
the one on the left (#8) in left turns. At the fix a series of NAV/OBS
changes are necessary and will be covered later. At the fix first turn to
the outbound heading and start the time. During your flight to the fix you
should have tried to determine both direction and velocity of the wind. It is
appropriate that you adjust your initial outbound flight according to your
estimate of the wind. Otherwise fly outbound heading for one minute.
#3 and #8 Radio Set
You have this one minute to make the NAV/OBS
changes. Ample time if you have practiced the settings. In addition, it
provides the interception and tracking information required for flying toward
The #3 Nav/OBS is used to set up
the interception at the fix. Both the frequencies and the OBS settings need to
be reversed between the #1 and #2 radios. Use an intercept radial from another
VOR if at all possible at a single VOR fix. It's nice to have the use of a VOR
intercept radial even at an NDB fix.
Of the remaining four holding
patterns, two will be teardrop and two will be parallel entries. These entries
require that you get the airplane turned around going to the fix. It is this
turning around that causes pilot disorientation. The purpose of the teardrop and
parallel procedure is merely to turn the aircraft around in the FAA’s conception
of the simplest manner possible.
#1 and #2 Teardrop Entries
If the ATC specified direction of the
hold is the same, or nearly so, as your course the entry is a teardrop. These
holds will be within 30 degrees of #2 & #1. If the ATC specified turn direction
is to the right then the pattern is to your left and vice versa. The hold to the
RIGHT will be in LEFT turns. The hold to the LEFT will be in RIGHT turns. You
will fly through the fix and diagonally through the holding pattern bisecting it
at 30 degrees. (Just as the first turn on a 45 entry to right traffic is to the
left, so will your first turn into a teardrop calling for left turns be to the
right and the teardrop calling for right turns be to the left.)
If you have an approach plate
that frequently requires teardrop entries, it is a good idea to draw in the 30
degree angle and heading numbers on the plate. In the teardrop clearance calling
for right turns only the first 30 degree turn is to the left. Likewise, the
holding pattern calling for a teardrop in left turn has an initial turn to the
right. You time the diagonal for one minute and turn about (wind) 210 degrees to
intercept the inbound leg. The 210 degree turn and all subsequent turns will be
the opposite direction of the initial 30 degree turn and in the direction
specified in the clearance. Once established on the inbound leg you are in the
#1 and #2 Radio Set
The VOR frequencies on #1 and #2 remain
the same. While on the outbound diagonal the #1 OBS must be reversed
180oto the inbound course. No changes to the #2 radio are needed. Again, for
teardrop entries, the only change will be a 180o reversal of the #1 Nav OBS.
#2 and #2 Clearance
If the holding direction is given as
within 30 degrees of the reciprocal to your direction of flight, the entries
will be teardrop. The pattern to your right will be in left turns with the
initial turn a 30 degree right turn. All subsequent turns are to the left. The
pattern to your left will be in right turns with the initial turn a 30 degree
left turn. All subsequent turns are to the right.
#4 and #7 Parallel Entries
The remaining two patterns #4 & #7 are
parallel entries. Commonly called PARALLEL OUTBOUND since your first turn of 90
degrees parallels the outbound leg while actually flying the reciprocal course
and radial of the inbound leg. The parallel holding patterns extend at
approximate right angles to your initial inbound course. You must fly through
the tips of these patterns to get to the fix. On arrival at the fix you turn
left if the holding turns are right or right if the holding turns are left, to
parallel and intercept the outbound course. Estimated wind correction may be
applied. Time this outbound leg for one minute as soon as established out of the
turn. At the end of the minute an additional 210 degree turn in the same initial
90 degree turn direction will give you at least a 30 degree interception back to
The first two turns from the fix
of 90 and about 210 degrees will be in the same direction with all subsequent
turns as part of the holding pattern in the opposite direction. You will have
turned right 90 degrees for the pattern to the right of your course. You will,
after one minute, turn right again about 210 degrees to fly diagonally through
the pattern and intercept the inbound radial to the fix. A total of about 300
degrees to your right in order to reverse the aircraft flight direction. All
subsequent turns will be to the left. or You will have turned left 90
degrees for the pattern to the left of your course. You will, after one minute,
turn left again about 210 degrees to fly diagonally through the holding pattern
and intercept the inbound radial to the fix. All subsequent turns will be to the
If the parallel pattern is to your
left, your first two turns are to the right in order to reverse your flight
direction by flying a diagonal back to the fix.. The pattern turns are to the
left thereafter. If the parallel pattern is to your right, your first two turns
are to the left in order to reverse your flight direction by flying a diagonal
back to the fix.. The pattern turns are to the right thereafter.
#4 and #7 Radio set
The Nav/OBS changes for patterns #7 & 4 has four variables. You can be
tracking to or from a VOR and the interception VOR may be to your left or right.
However there are a number of constants. The first is that the #1 and #2
navigational frequencies will be reversed. The #1 OBS will be turned 90 degrees
to the right for patterns #7 & 8 and 90o to the left for patterns #3 and #4.
There is a pattern but no easy
way to set the #2 OBS for any of the four patterns. You must know if the
intercept station is going to be to your left or right. The OBS change will
always be only 90o and is the same for #7 & 8 in each situation. The OBS change
will always be only 90 degrees and is the same for # 3 & 4 in each situation.
will offer variations. Six holding patterns are possible. The direction of your
arrival at the intersection gives a direct entry to at least two patterns. The
teardrop to your left will be left turns; the teardrop to your right will be
right turns. The parallels are as usual, to the right left turns, to the left
right turns. Any entry that requires more than a 90 degree turn is wrong.
Single VOR Holding
All of the previous VOR holding has
assumed that you have dual VORs.
Now you should try holding along
an airway using only one Nav radio. This requires that you have identified two
VORs as operational and are keeping the volume at a level sufficient to hear the
code. You need to have both frequencies and OBS settings required for the fix
posted/memorized. You will be busy making the changes so practice the way to
turn the frequency knobs and the OBS for the most efficient changes. Counting
frequency change clicks is one way while you keep your eyes on the instruments.
You don't need to watch the frequency knob change. Learn how far the OBS turns
as you normally twist it and make the twists required before looking at the
The DME fix will be along a radial
perhaps of an airway. If you are flying the radial be aware that your flight
direction must be either away from (FROM) the VOR or through the VOR
(TO). The DME fix is always named as being on the radial FROM the VOR so this
can be confusing. Be sure that you are reading the DME in such a manner as to be
flying toward the fix. This type of DME fix has only four possible holds. All
the holds are along the radial. Two will be toward the VOR and two will be away
from the VOR. Two will be direct entry and two will be teardrop. If you are
flying toward the fix and the VOR your OBS will be TO as will your heading.
BUT the fix is named as DME on the radial FROM. This can cause confusion.
Prior to reaching the fix you
must determine two things about the hold. Determine the direction of the
hold and the direction of the turns. If your flight will reach the holds before
reaching the fix then the entries will be direct whether right or left turns. If
your flight will reach the fix before reaching the holds then your entries will
be teardrop. The teardrop with left turns will be to your right. The teardrop
with right turns will be to your left. Make your 30 degree diagonal turn across
the hold accordingly. Time for one minute. Since the teardrop is actually a
course reversal you must reverse the OBS for the inbound heading to avoid
reverse sensing. If the entries to the DME fix are direct no changes of the OBS
will be required. It would be most unusual to be asked to hold at a DME fix at
right angles to the radial determining the fix.
The designation of a hold can take
several forms. A most frequent area of confusion involves the use of cardinal
heading terminology. The eight headings are north, northeast, east, south east,
south, southwest, west, northwest. You can be asked to hold northwest at a fix
while on a southeast heading. You might be told to hold southwest while entering
a fix from the south east. Know the directions and their related numbers.
You may be given a radial from a
VOR to hold on that requires a TO OBS setting. A DME fix may require an OBS
reversal or not. While not mandatory it is considered preferable to always fly
the #1 VOR head and use the #2 for interceptions. The exception might be when
flying to intercept an inbound approach heading.
The holding clearance will give
first a holding direction. The holding direction may be given as a bearing
to/from an NDB, as a radial from a VOR, or as one of the eight cardinal
Items essential to a holding
clearance. These items can be given in several ways published, standard,
assigned by ATC.
A charted hold can be given by ATC by giving the name, the holding leg
direction and the term "as published", and the EFC (expect further clearance)
1. EFC time is the last essential assigned item for any holding
An established no wind hold takes four (4) minutes with two one minute
legs and one minute standard rate turns at each end.
2. Definition of the fix.
Definition is by name of navaid, intersection, or geographic location.
3. The holding leg.
This may be a stated direction, radial, course, bearing azimuth, airway or
4. Leg length
Defined in miles or time if other than standard. Standard on inbound leg
is one minute below 14,000' MSL
and 1 1/2 above. Adjustment of outbound leg is required to obtain required
inbound leg time.
5. Direction of turns
Right turns are standard, left turns must be requested or assigned by ATC.
6. Altitude to be specified unless same as last assigned which is standard.
7. Speed maximum standards are set by FAR AIM 5-3-7 revokes
the 175 knot prop limit and now has 200,
230, and 250 or as specified on chart limits for all other than Jets (265 KIAS).
ATC cannot require speed
reductions in holding patterns. Best economy speed makes most sense for all
8. It is standard to triple the wind correction angle of the inbound leg on the
outbound leg. This compensates for the
wind's effect during turns. (As of January 6, 1995, the AIM uses the word
'triple' instead of double.)
The holding direction may be
given as on a radial from a VOR which is actually the reciprocal of the inbound
holding course. Knowing that this is the standard ATC representation means that
you must mentally reverse the direction and radial for your inbound
direction. (For example: Being told to, "Hold at a VOR northeast on the 030
radial" really means that your inbound heading will be to the southwest on the
The same directions given as a
radial to or from a VOR passing through an intersection at an airway
intersection may or may not require the mental reversal. The direction
may be given as a bearing to an NDB in which the bearing and inbound heading are
identical but the actual hold will be on the opposite side of the fix. You could
be told to hold WEST (270), on the 090 bearing to the NDB.
It is the wording of the
instructions to a hold is more often than not the cause of the perceptual
difficulties pilots have. While flying north to a fix you might be instructed to
hold south. This means that your inbound leg to the fix will be to the north
while the body of the holding pattern will be to the south. Draw it out and see.
The entry will be direct with no frequency/OBS changes required.
You must stay oriented. If
assigned to hold on a radial, you must realize that your inbound leg heading
TO or at the VOR will be the reciprocal of the numbers given in the holding
instructions. If holding FROM the VOR (not at the VOR) the assigned
radial and the inbound leg will be the same radial.
Again both situations should be
drawn out to show understanding.
With reference to the eight cardinal directions you will be given
(1) The general direction of the holding pattern (airspace) from the fix
as a cardinal direction. (Southeast)
(2) The name of the fix which can be a DME point as well.
(3) Specific direction numbers as a reference. Whenever the holding leg is other
than one of the cardinal directions the degrees will be given. Radials are
always FROM and bearings are always TO unless stated as FROM.
(4) The direction of the turns, right is standard.
(5) EFC Expect further clearance.
(6) Time now.
There is a way to help your
interpretation of a clearance. Learn to say the clearance as it would be given
by ATC with all the requirements as you practice the sequence of holds below.
This will clarify your understanding of how the words define the hold. Knowing
how the clearance tells where you will be and what you will be doing will give
you the situational awareness required to keep the brain functioning normally.
Learn to act as your own controller and give the clearance information you need
to correctly approach the fix, determine the holding direction, and the turn
direction. The cardinal direction is usually defined by assigning a radial
number or airway.
As a pilot you need to think
ahead of the holding pattern to how you will depart toward your destination. The
incorrect clearance can make that departure more difficult. If ATC should give
you a hold that is going to make your departure less than the most efficient you
can suggest a change. Just the difference of right turns to left turns can be
Course Reversal Holding and Procedure Turns
The consistent use of a course
reversal whenever it is necessary to reverse aircraft direction has desirable
qualities. A procedure turn done by course reversal does not require timing and
focuses inbound attention on interception. The course reversal very easily
substitutes for all the intricacies required for parallel and teardrop holding
There are two different depictions of approach holds on charts. The bold
depiction of a hold is part of the procedure. The bold hold is used as a course
reversal segment. Where the holding pattern is lightly depicted on the plate it
is part of the missed approach but not part of the procedure. You cannot
correctly fly the procedure from a lightly depicted holding pattern.
The TERPS has different altitude
minimums for each variation of the holding pattern. Where a light holding
pattern exists you must get established on the outbound course before doing a
course reversal by procedure turn or otherwise. Only proceeding this way will
insure that you remain in protected airspace.
It is possible to learn your job
better as a pilot faced with a holding clearance by knowing the job of your ATC
counterpart who has to issue the clearance.
There are 31 different holding pattern sizes based on different aircraft
speeds and altitudes. In many situations ATC can, at its option change the size
of a holding airspace protected area once an aircraft is established in the
hold. The holding minimum pattern altitude (MHA) may be less than the minimum
instrument altitude (MIA) in mountainous areas.
Not all holding patterns
considered to be ‘published’ are on charts or plates. It doesn’t matter. ATC can
require you to hold at any time as long as you remain above specified altitudes.
You do not need to be in radar contact for an ATC hold. Because of protected
areas minimums all instrument approach procedure course reversal holding
patterns are limited to 200 knots or less. TERPS design of the holding patterns
protects the course reversal area under the assumption that the outbound course
will be flown.
RNAV procedures only holding
patterns-in-lieu-of-procedure-turns are authorized for course reversals. The
length of the pattern is a maximum as long as you remain in protected airspace
you can cut is shorter.
Use the San Francisco Area Chart. Draw, walk or 'dry run' the following routes
and make the holds as assigned. If making a 'dry run' in an aircraft work
through the frequency/OBS changes required at each hold. Make a 4 column chart
of the changes. Try using parts of the charts on an actual flight.
Using the Clock
The aircraft clock is used by IFR
pilots for a variety of purposes. Consider the timing for groundspeed, approach
timing, ETA prediction, fuel planning and the timing of course interceptions.
The planning of a flight is
charted by mileage. The pilot is well advised to convert mileage into time. Your
lapboard could (should) have a conversion chart for cruise and approach ground
speeds. A GPS is a big help to figure in wind effects. When you make the
conversion into minutes you can take the next step of anticipating in terms of
You can stay ahead of the
aircraft when you use time. When making ATC vector intercepts, you anticipate a
30-degree intercept angle by 10-seconds. A 45-degree intercept takes 15 seconds.
Single Nav Holding
One of the most difficult things I ever had to do was hold at an
intersection determined by 2 radials of 2 different VORs with one receiver and a
NORDO aircraft. I had to leave the fix at the EFC time. Fortunately
for me I had some good instrument instructors who helped me learn it for an
airman flight check.
If you remember the 6 Ts:
Turn Time Twist Throttle Talk Track; they were devised for a very good
reason. If you only have one omni the first step is to intercept the radial that
is the holding course, from either direction. Once you are established on that
radial, figure out the wind correction angle, then hold the heading. Next tune
in the 2nd VOR (twist) and determine which side of the aircraft the station is
If the needle is on the same side as the station you're not there yet (same
side, safe side). When the needle starts to centre then start your turn. If the
needle flips to the opposite side of the VOR and you miss it, you've passed the
radial, start your turn. Time outbound and set up the VOR to track the inbound
course again. If you're making a parallel entry from the opposite direction, use
the same technique to get established inbound. Besides wearing the knobs out on
your avionics it works pretty good. There may be other methods but this was the
easiest for me. Of course if you have 2 receivers or a DME it works much easier.
The Holding Pattern
Triple the outbound wind correction
Wind makes a big difference
@90 knots a 15 knot 90-degree wind is one mile off course in one minute
It is possible to have a wind in which a proper holding pattern cannot be
One of the difficulties of VOR
understanding involves that the presentation of a radial is always outbound or
FROM the VOR while all hold instructions are inbound on the assigned radial.
Essential this means the pilot must mentally reverse the radial assigned to go
inbound on its reciprocal heading. The choice is whether you let ATC twist your
thinking using radials before you begin flying or whether you fly headings only
because that's what you will be doing anyway.
While you are inbound on the 330
radial (heading of 150 that they don't mention. You are told to hold on the 315
radial (requires either direct to VOR or a turn to the right to intercept and
fly inbound on the 315 radial prior to reaching the VOR). The problem is not
you, it is the convoluted manner of presenting the hold with numbers that are
reciprocal to the ones you will actually use and even worse not in the order of
Electronic Positional Awareness Errors
Bend in airway between two VORs
Use of stale database.
Intercept of radial to wrong navaid.
Use of wrong GPS coordinates.
Pilotage and Dead Reckoning are your GPS backups.
Transposition of two of the three possible letters is a common error.
Given the choice between an ATC command and a GPS reading, obey ATC.
Use ’nearest’ to maintain geographic orientation
GPS has greatly increased the CFIT problem
There is no phase of flying that cannot be made more difficult by technology.
New Look at Holding
The hold as used in IFR is a method
of parking and/or turning around an airplane. In my studies I have found some
nice to know things about holds and intersections.
The hold has the straight
legs of a racetrack because the older gyros would cause precession during
continuous circles. The straight-away allow the gyro to settle down. We still do
it but I understand that
it is not really needed, today.
If you take an intersection crossed at right angles as a + sign and beginning
at the top left you can get eight different holding patterns.. Draw it and let
the patterns overlap so you can see all eight in one drawing. Use arrows to show
the direction of the pattern or R/L .
Assume that in your flight
you are arriving from the south and are heading north. The direction is not
important but the numbering of the holds remains the same.
This is what you have when driving a car into a + intersection and can
be visualized while stopped at an intersection. Beginning at the top left number around the + until you have all
the holds from one to eight.
Of the eight holds four are
direct entry and do not reverse the direction of flight. The other four turn the
aircraft around in a direction opposite to that of their arrival.
Good practice would be to
always fly the #1 VOR and intersect the #2 VOR Use the outbound legs to make the
required changes in frequency and OBS.
Note that the two holds at
the top (1&2) are teardrop entries and for right turns you turn left for #1 and
for left turns you turn right for one minute before turning to the inbound leg
and reversing the OBS while timing for one minute (ideal)
The other two holds that
reverse arrival directions are below the horizontal cross bar (+) and are called
parallel outbound holds. Again the one on the left gives a right turn holding
pattern and the one on the right gives a left turning holding pattern.
The four direct entry holds
turn right or left as required. Right turns understood unless left turns are
specified on crossing the fix and fly in the outbound direction specified in the
clearance initially for one (To be adjusted) minute. Holds to the right side of
the vertical bar will in right turns and holds to the left side of the vertical
bar will be left turns.