Holding Speeds

To limit the maximum size of holding patterns, maximum holding speeds were published. The maximum holding speed is 200 knots indicated when at or below 6,000 feet. If above 6,000 feet and at or below 14,000 feet, the maximum speed is 230 KIAS. When above 14,000 feet, the maximum speed is 265 KIAS. The maximum hold speed can also be specified on charts or by air traffic control.

Pilots often times choose to slow the airplane to a slower, more fuel efficient speed for holding. If you need to slow, you should make your speed reduction about 3 minutes prior to reaching your holding fix. You must cross the hold fix at or below the maximum hold speed.

Unanticipated Holding

Air traffic control should issue holding instructions at least 5 minutes before you arrive at your clearance limit. If you are approaching your clearance limit and have not receive instructions, ask air traffic control about their plan for you.

If you are unable to obtain instructions from air traffic control and reach your clearance limit, enter a standard hold on the course at which you approached the fix. Again, in a standard hold you will make right turns and maintain a 1 or 1.5 minute inbound leg, depending on your altitude. Since you would be holding on your inbound course, a direct entry is used.

Non-Standard and As Published Holding Patterns

If the controller desires left turns, they will normally state "left turns" in the clearance. They might also state this as "non-standard turns", however.

Additionally, distance is often used instead of timing. If a distance is used, simply fly outbound until reaching the specified distance and turn inbound. Although uncommon, air traffic control could also specify a particular inbound leg timing as well.

When the phrase "hold as published" is used, you are to hold as depicted on your aeronautical chart.

Holds at a Fix or Waypoint

Holds need not be assigned at a navaid. A hold could also be assigned at an RNAV waypoint, a DME fix, or an intersection of two radials.