August 2011 Issue

Dissecting The Hold

Despite currency requirements, for-real holds are too rare for us to stay proficient. Understanding them is easy if we break them down to the basics.

November 12345, cleared to Avsaf, hold east as published, expect further clearance at 1845." Thatís a typical clearance into a holding pattern for an IFR flight when ATC needs to "park" it somewhere until traffic or other conditions allow it to continue to its destination. A holding clearance usually isnít something a pilot or crew wants to hear, and they are much rarer in these times of flow control and ground delays, which are designed to minimize holding in the first place. But ATC still hands them out when needed, and FAR 61.57, Recent Flight Experience, requires regular practice in "holding procedures and tasks" to maintain currency. For the most part, holding can be relatively simple: Fly to the fix and turn right. But it also can get a bit complicated if the hold isnít published. And there are ways to avoid it entirely if youíre willing to play ball with ATC and eliminate the reason for the hold. Letís explore.

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