Holding Procedures


Gain the skills associated with holding procedures solely by reference to instruments.


This is the required reading for this lesson. Numbers in [brackets] indicate the starting and ending page in the referenced reading material. Read all the pages and sections referenced.


The notes below highlight the important parts in the referenced material. Reading the notes without having read the actual referenced material is generally not sufficient to pass the written exam!

IFH - Chapter 10

  • The "default" holding pattern is
    • At or below 14,000 feet - Right turns, 1 minute straight legs
    • Above 14,000 feet - Right turns, 1.5 minute straight legs
  • Maximum speed in the hold (unless otherwise depicted on chart or directed by ATC) is
    • At or below 6,000 feet - 200 KIAS
    • 6,000 to 14,000 feet - 230 KIAS
    • Above 14,000 feet - 265 KIAS
  • Instructions for ATC directed holds will include four to six of the following items:
    • The hold fix to be used
    • A cardinal direction (north, east, south, west, or some combination thereof) representing which side of the fix you should hold on
    • The course for the inbound leg
    • The turn direction (sometimes given as "standard" = right, "non-standard" = left), or, if not given, right is assumed
    • The leg length (sometimes given as "standard" = one minute / 1.5 minutes as applicable), or if not given, the appropriate one is assumed
    • "Expect further clearance"; either a number of minutes or a Zulu time at which you can expect to be given further instructions
  • The recommended way to enter a standard hold depends on the angle from which you are initially approaching the hold fix:
    1. Parallel entry
      • Entering along the outbound course or up to plus 110 degrees
    2. Teardrop entry
      • Entering along the outbound course or up to minus 70 degrees
    3. Direct entry
      • Entering the inbound course heading minus 70 degrees to plus 110 degrees

      Holding Entry

  • All turns during the hold should be
    • 3 degrees per second (standard rate hold), or
    • 30 degree bank angle, or
    • A bank angle provided by the flight director

Sim Pilot Notes

Use of FMC

If the model of aircraft has a functional FMS, it should be used to program a hold if asked by the instructor. The following describes the Hold pages in the Boeing 737 FMC:

  • The FMC computes holding patterns with constant radius turns based on current winds and FMC commanded airspeed. The pattern size is limited to FAA or ICAO protected airspace. In LNAV, the AFDS tracks the holding pattern using up to a 30 degree bank angle. Strong winds or airspeed in excess of FAA or ICAO entry speeds may result in the airplane flying outside the protected airspace.
  • With LNAV active before sequencing the holding fix, holding pattern entries are determined by the following:
    • The angle between the flight plan leg into the holding fix and the holding inbound course determines the entry method used (parallel, teardrop or direct entry)
    • The airplane flies the initial outbound leg for a specified time (1.0 minute at or below 14,000 feet and 1.5 minutes above 14,000 feet)
    • Teardrop entries use an FMC calculated offset angle designed to intercept the outbound leg at the point where the inbound turn begins
    • Parallel and teardrop entries may cause the airplane to fly beyond the displayed holding pattern; however, the airplane remains in protected FAA or ICAO limits


  • The hold page is used to enter a holding pattern into the route.
  • When the flight plan does not have a holding pattern, push the HOLD function key to show the LEGS page with the HOLD AT line.
  • Two versions of the hold page are possible:
    • An airway or procedure holding pattern (from the navigation database)
    • A flight crew-entered holding pattern
  • The holding page shows actual or default data about the holding pattern. Entries make route modifications, which can be erased or executed. Active holding patterns are magenta on the navigation display.

    Boeing FMC Hold Page

    1. Hold At
    2. Hold At Present Position (PPOS)
    3. Modified Route Hold Status
    4. Fix
    5. Quadrant/Radial (QUAD/RADIAL)
    6. Inbound Course/Direction (INBD CRS/DIR)
    7. Leg Time
    8. Leg Distance (LEG DIST)
    9. Erase
    10. Speed/Target Altitude (SPD/TGT ALT)
    11. Fix Estimated Time of Arrival (FIX ETA)
    12. Expected Further Clearance Time (EFC TIME)
    13. Hold Available (HOLD AVAIL)
    14. Best Speed
    15. Active Route Hold Status
    16. Next Hold
    17. Exit Hold
    18. Exit Armed

Tomas Hansson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Chief Flight Instructor, VATSTAR
DISCLAIMER: all information contained herein is for flight simulation purposes only.
March 2021

Click to listen highlighted text! Powered By GSpeech