Tom Horne

Holding in lieu of Procedure Turn?

September 4, 2008 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

My “On Final, On the Gauges” article in the August AOPA Pilot discussed IFR final approach procedures, and it apparently hit a nerve in the “holding in lieu of” department. My read of the AIM, as set out in AIM 5-4-9, is that you don’t need to make that trip around the holding pattern–even if it’s published in bold on the approach plate–as long as: No PT is on the chart, when you’re getting radar vectors to the final approach course, when you’re doing a timed approach from a holding fix. Anyone ever done a timed approach? Not me.

Member George Shanks wrote me to emphasize that most RNAV (GPS) approaches with the “T”-style entry paths to the FAF are also exempt from holding. “If the approach is in the “T” or inverted “L” format and fly-by waypoints are in use … it would not be necessary to use the course reversal pattern.”

Jose Riera has a good question: “If a holding pattern is depicted at the FAF, you are required to make one turn around before resuming your course inbound to the runway. Can you tell me why this is?”

Personally, I don’t know. Maybe it has to do with steering clear of obstacles or terrain. All I know is that most times you’ll be on vectors from ATC, and a hold-in-lieu-of PT would be unlikely. Which is good, because let’s face it, most of us just don’t want to hold …..

Anybody else with views on holding at the FAF?


17 Responses to “Holding in lieu of Procedure Turn?”

  1. Christopher Weiss Says:

    It’s not that you don’t need to do the hold-in-lieu-of. The hold is *not permitted* when “No PT” is depicted.

    Quote from Instrument Procedures Handbook pp 5-39 in the “Course Reversal” section:
    However, the procedure turn or the hold-in-lieu-of-PT is not permitted when the symbol “No PT” is depicted on the initial segment being flown, when a RADAR VECTOR to the final approach course is provided, or when conducting a timed approach from a holding fix.

  2. Ron Stup Says:

    My guess would be that the holding pattern at the IAF is a device that allows ATC to continue the flow of traffic into a fairport when radar coverage is lost. I was an air traffic controller in the Marine Corps from 1963 to 1967. At that time there was no altitude information available to the radar controllers. Additionally, radar coverage was sometime unreliable (frequent equipment failures) and some parts of the country didn’t have radar coverage at all. Approach control would use the published hold at the IAF as a place to stack arriving aircraft. When radar would fail, we’d keep traffic flowing by having them enter the published hold at the top of the stack at 1,000 foot intervals.

    We’d clear the lowest aircraft for the instrument approach and have them report leaving their assigned altitude. Once we received that report, we’d tell the next lowest aircraft in the stack to descend and maintain the altitude just vacated by the lowest aircraft and have him report leaving his assigned altitude. We’d continue up the stack dropping each aircraft, in the holding pattern, by 1,000′ as soon as the aircraft below them reported leaving their assigned altitude.

    In my opinion, the holding pattern at the IAF still remains a device to allow ATC to safely maintain an orderly flow of traffic into an airport in the unlikely event of total radar failure. Under normal circumstances, I don’t think it is necessary to enter the hold in a functioning clarification.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Ron Stup

  3. Richard Terrelonge Says:

    Hold in lieu. So what constitutes a course reversal at a hold in lieu. The answer I like is that it is that you are done when established on the final approach course after executing the appropriate entry procedure. This would mean passing the holding fix twice.

    The other answer I have heard is that you have to complete the entry and then do one turn around the hold; Having passed the holding fix three times.

    Any thoughts.

  4. Richard Terrelonge Says:

    I must have mis communicated. If you arrive at the holding fix on the outbound course and you will be a hold in lieu (there is no no-pt) have you complied if you do the appropriate entry and are now in bound (pass the holding fix twice once outbound and once in) or are you required to do the entry and one hold (pass the holding fix three times – once for outbound once after the entry and once after the hold)?

  5. Scott Anselm Says:

    I had this same question come up today and would like to find out the answer as well. If I find something I will post it.

  6. Scott Anselm Says:

    Just found this:

    4. A holding pattern in lieu of procedure turn may be specified for course reversal in some procedures. In such cases, the holding pattern is established over an intermediate fix or a final approach fix. The holding pattern distance or time specified in the profile view must be observed. Maximum holding airspeed limitations as set forth for all holding patterns apply. The holding pattern maneuver is completed when the aircraft is established on the inbound course after executing the appropriate entry. If cleared for the approach prior to returning to the holding fix, and the aircraft is at the prescribed altitude, additional circuits of the holding pattern are not necessary nor expected by ATC. If pilots elect to make additional circuits to lose excessive altitude or to become better established on course, it is their responsibility to so advise ATC upon receipt of their approach clearance.

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  8. Arthur F McAllister Says:

    Holding pattern at the FAF?

    Never saw one that was part of the approach procedure, and not instead a holding pattern there as the missed segment.

    I would love to see an example of a hold at the FAF which is printed in bold. I doubt it exists except as a misprint.

  9. Arthur F McAllister Says:

    I should clarify the previous post – I omitted “in cases where the FAF and IAF do not coexist” after the words “in bold”.

  10. Nick L Says:

    The holding pattern is completed after the appropriate entry is established (Teardrop, Parallel, or direct) you can shoot the approach simple as that

  11. Dave Howard Says:


    VOR RWY 5 into Casa Grande, AZ, has a coincident hold fix/FAF at the Stanfield VOR. The hold is depicted in bold.

    Casa Grande is a non-towered field with ILS, VOR and GPS approaches located in close proximity to Phoenix and at least 11 flight schools, it gets pretty lively! Practice approach traffic stacks up at 500′ intervals – similar to the description above by Mr. Stup – with each aircraft reporting FAF inbound, stepping down and what altitude they are leaving and entering the hold.

    The volume of IFR training and ‘practice approaches’ into Casa Grande and the infrequency of actual IFR WX means that the hold is a very busy and essential part of traffic flow and coordination. Thus, the issue of straight-in or hold-in-lieu very rarely becomes an issue.

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  15. John Says:

    Look at VOR/DME-A Abilene Municiple (K78). If flying from the Salina VORTAC on course and at 3000′ cleared for the approach do you have to do a turn in holding? I would say not because I am on the correct course, no need for reversal and I have no alttitude to loose. Any thoughts?

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