Holding procedures


This lesson provides the student with a general knowledge of holding and its role in departure and arrival procedures.


  • Purpose of holding
  • Holding patterns
  • Entry techniques


Instructor actions

  • Describe reasons for holding and introduce the topic
  • Illustrate techniques using Tim's simulator
  • Have the student solve multiple scenarios
  • Introduce wind correction and have student describe the technique
  • Evaluate student knowledge with questions emphasizing understanding rather than rote
  • Conclude with an oral quiz, identifying and correcting errors

Student actions

  • Maintain active involvement by responding to questions and taking notes
  • Guide the instructor through holding with several simulator scenarios
  • Complete an oral quiz and demonstration of the concepts

Completion standards

The lesson will be complete when the student can demonstrate an understanding of the techniques for hold entry and holding with minimal instructor guidance.

Teaching outline

  • Why do we hold?

    • we could be waiting for a further clearance
    • weather may be slowing the system
    • there could be air traffic delays
  • Holds are designed to keep us within a known area of airspace

    • racetrack layout
    • can be published or issued by ATC on the spot
    • holding instructions include altitude and an expect further clearance (EFC) time
    • maximum speeds increase with altitude

      • minimum holding (MHA) to 6,000 ft - 200 knots
      • 6,001 ft to 14,000 ft - 230 knots
      • 14,001 ft and higher - 265 knots
  • Elements:

    1. holding fix - intersection, navaid, etc
    2. holding radial or bearing
    3. holding position - relative to fix; west, southwest, south
    4. turn direction - standard is right turns at standard rate (3° per second)
    5. leg timing or distance - standard is one minute

Hold entry

  • Three types, depending on which of three sectors we enter from

    • direct

      1. we fly to the fix, turning to follow the outbound
      2. turn immediately if more than 180° is required; otherwise, wait briefly
    • parallel

      1. we fly to the fix, then begin the first turn to parallel the inbound.
      2. fly outbound for one minute (or leg distance)
      3. turn towards the fix on the protected side through 180°
      4. intercept the inbound at approximately 45°
    • teardrop

      1. overfly the fix, turning 30° from the inbound to the protected side
      2. fly outbound for one minute (or leg distance)
      3. turn at standard rate towards the fix to intercept inbound
    • Entry counts as our first turn in holding
    • Time the outbound from abeam the fix or wings level

      • the ideal inbound leg is exactly one minute - outbound varies

Wind correction

  • Headwind and tailwind situations will impact our inbound leg significantly
  • The solution is to add or subtract double the time we were off

    • What do we do if we're off by more than thirty seconds?
  • Crosswinds require a wind correction angle to be determined

    • when tracking inbound, make a note of the correction angle required
    • when tracking outbound, triple that angle up to 30°
  • We know the approximate winds aloft. Try to predict the wind situation. Don't just fly a normal entry and correct later.
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