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2 Answers

GPS hold entry

Asked by: 4916 views Instrument Rating

I know that GPS holds are 4nm, but when entering the hold should you fly 4nm outbound when entering parallel or teardrop, and where can I reference this answer?

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2 Answers



  1. John D. Collins on Mar 24, 2013

    RNAV (GPS) procedures use a distance hold rather than a timed hold. Many of them are the 4 NM variety, but other distances are also used. The distance or time is a maximum and a shorter distance may be flown at the discretion of the pilot unless you are specifically cleared to fly the full distance. At the distance limit, the turn back to intercept the inbound holding leg is required to commence if you have not already done so.

    See in the AIM both section 5-3-8 on holding and 5−4−9. Procedure Turn and Hold−in−lieu of Procedure Turn. In 5-4-9 (a) it states:in the introductory paragraph: “The maneuver must be completed within the distance specified in the profile view. For a hold−in−lieu−of−PT, the holding pattern direction must be flown as depicted and the specified leg length/timing must not be exceeded.” This wording has changed over the last few updates to the AIM to clarify that the distance is a maximum.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Mar 25, 2013

    In addition to the AIM revisions, the question was also part (it answers a number of questions) the subject of a 2011 FAA Chief Counsel opinion letter:

    ==============================
    In. response to your fifth question, it is permissible, without specific ATC clearance, to shorten published outbound DME legs in a holding pattern as long as the issued holding pattern leg length is not exceeded. If A TC verbalizes leg lengths for either a charted or uncharted holding pattern, the pilot does have to obtain A TC clearance to shorten outbound legs to less than that which has been cleared. “When an ATC clearance has been obtained, no pilot in command may deviate from that clearance unless an amended clearance is obtained, an emergency exists, or the deviation is in response to a traffic alert and coIlision avoidance system resolution advisory.” See 14 C.F.R. 91. 123(a)
    ==============================
    http://tinyurl.com/445hxxl

    My own rule #1 is that you and ATC need to be on the same page. So, my practical take is that, if you are going to fly shorter legs once established in the hold, to at least inform ATC you are going to do so. There are holds with 7 NM legs; a bit far for a 172, so when I entered them (usually for practice) at my old home base, I generally informed ATC I would only be flying 4 NM legs. The hold being inside Bravo airspace, it seemed the heads-up was appreciated.

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