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AIM

10/12/17

5

−3−19

En Route Procedures

5

−3−8. Holding

a.

Whenever an aircraft is cleared to a fix other

than the destination airport and delay is expected, it
is the responsibility of ATC to issue complete holding
instructions (unless the pattern is charted), an EFC
time and best estimate of any additional en
route/terminal delay.

NOTE

Only those holding patterns depicted on U.S. government
or commercially produced (meeting FAA requirements)
low/high altitude en route, and area or STAR charts should
be used.

b.

If the holding pattern is charted and the

controller doesn’t issue complete holding instruc-
tions, the pilot is expected to hold as depicted on the
appropriate chart. When the pattern is charted on the
assigned procedure or route being flown, ATC may
omit all holding instructions except the charted
holding direction and the statement AS PUBLISHED;
for example, HOLD EAST AS PUBLISHED. ATC
must always issue complete holding instructions
when pilots request them.

c.

If no holding pattern is charted and holding

instructions have not been issued, the pilot should ask
ATC for holding instructions prior to reaching the fix.
This procedure will eliminate the possibility of an
aircraft entering a holding pattern other than that
desired by ATC. If unable to obtain holding
instructions prior to reaching the fix (due to
frequency congestion, stuck microphone, etc.), then
enter a standard pattern on the course on which the
aircraft approached the fix and request further
clearance as soon as possible. In this event, the
altitude/flight level of the aircraft at the clearance
limit will be protected so that separation will be
provided as required.

d.

When an aircraft is 3 minutes or less from a

clearance limit and a clearance beyond the fix has not
been received, the pilot is expected to start a speed
reduction so that the aircraft will cross the fix,
initially, at or below the maximum holding airspeed.

e.

When no delay is expected, the controller

should issue a clearance beyond the fix as soon as
possible and, whenever possible, at least 5 minutes
before the aircraft reaches the clearance limit.

f.

Pilots should report to ATC the time and

altitude/flight level at which the aircraft reaches the
clearance limit and report leaving the clearance limit.

NOTE

In the event of two-way communications failure, pilots are
required to comply with 14 CFR Section 91.185.

g.

When holding at a VOR station, pilots should

begin the turn to the outbound leg at the time of the
first complete reversal of the to/from indicator.

h.

Patterns at the most generally used holding

fixes are depicted (charted) on U.S. Government or
commercially produced (meeting FAA requirements)
Low or High Altitude En Route, Area, Departure
Procedure, and STAR Charts. Pilots are expected to
hold in the pattern depicted unless specifically
advised otherwise by ATC.

NOTE

Holding patterns that protect for a maximum holding
airspeed other than the standard may be depicted by an
icon, unless otherwise depicted. The icon is a standard
holding pattern symbol (racetrack) with the airspeed
restriction shown in the center. In other cases, the airspeed
restriction will be depicted next to the standard holding
pattern symbol.

REFERENCE

AIM, Paragraph 5

−3−8 j2, Holding

i.

An ATC clearance requiring an aircraft to hold

at a fix where the pattern is not charted will include
the following information: (See FIG 5

−3−2.)

1.

Direction of holding from the fix in terms of

the eight cardinal compass points (i.e., N, NE, E, SE,
etc.).

2.

Holding fix (the fix may be omitted if

included at the beginning of the transmission as the
clearance limit).

3.

Radial, course, bearing, airway or route on

which the aircraft is to hold.

4.

Leg length in miles if DME or RNAV is to be

used (leg length will be specified in minutes on pilot
request or if the controller considers it necessary).

5.

Direction of turn if left turns are to be made,

the pilot requests, or the controller considers it
necessary.

6.

Time to expect further clearance and any

pertinent additional delay information.

9/13/18

AIM