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convair880mfan
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Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:57 pm

I haven't flown for years but the last few years I flew, some airliners I was on were held on the ground when there were too many takeoffs and landings at a destination airport.

Only twice did I experience a jetliner flying a holding pattern: once in 1971 on a TWA Boeing 707 that was circling over Lake Michigan before landing at O'Hare.

Another time was when I flew from ABQ to SAN. Fog had messed up schedules there and things were backed up. We had a 45 minute ground hold in ABQ and this was extended an hour and then an hour more. While over the Salton Sea the Captain came on the intercom and said that we would be circling. Apparently after the fog lifted, all the departing flights had left but now there was a traffic jam with all the arriving aircraft coming in.

Are holding patterns still used? And which fields use them quite often?
 
bigb
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:06 pm

Hold Patterns aren’t necessarily air field specific. It’s just a flight pattern that is used to buy time before aircraft can proceed to its intended destination and or alternate or holding patterns can be used as a course reverser for a approach in a non-radar environment.

Holding patterns are still used today.
 
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BWIAirport
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:35 pm

At least pre-covid, if you're flying to LHR long-haul and you departed on time, you're gonna do some circles before you land.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:41 pm

I’ve done holds in the US, the UK, Russia, India (lots), Brazil (more lots), Dubai at the wrong arrival times, Tahiti (once to delay for approach clnc), so yes when needed a hold.
 
convair880mfan
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:40 pm

Is anyone at "fault" when an airplane has to enter a holding pattern or is it weather, SOP or something else? Seems like a holding pattern would add to the fuel bill of an airline. Maybe I am wrong. Do airplanes still fly a racetrack pattern in the hold.
 
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77west
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 12, 2022 11:29 pm

convair880mfan wrote:
Is anyone at "fault" when an airplane has to enter a holding pattern or is it weather, SOP or something else? Seems like a holding pattern would add to the fuel bill of an airline. Maybe I am wrong. Do airplanes still fly a racetrack pattern in the hold.


They are not ideal, but do allow airports like Heathrow to operate at peak efficiency buy feeding a new arrival every couple of minutes from the same direction (for that particular hold, Heathrow has 4 stacks I believe). Yes it is a racetrack generally
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 12:28 am

convair880mfan wrote:
Is anyone at "fault" when an airplane has to enter a holding pattern or is it weather, SOP or something else? Seems like a holding pattern would add to the fuel bill of an airline. Maybe I am wrong. Do airplanes still fly a racetrack pattern in the hold.


As 77west says, due to the complexity of all the arrivals and such, they are an essential component of operations. Keeping a busy airport "fed" at maximum efficiency will be much more economically beneficial overall.

It bears mention that they are typically flown at rather economical speeds. No point flying faster than you need to in the hold. That just burns more fuel.

There doesn't necessarily need to be a published pattern either. ATC might just ask you to make an orbit en route if they need a couple of minutes delay.

Another application of holding patterns if for emergencies. Say you have an engine failure on takeoff and continue. You might enter a hold while you're setting up for the return. Much simpler to have the airplane fly in ovals than keep getting vectored.
 
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AirKevin
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 12:40 am

Back in 2004, we flew a few laps in a holding pattern just prior to arrival into NRT because there was apparently an issue with the runway (not sure what the actual issue was as the pilots hadn't specified). Then in 2017, we flew one lap in a holding pattern over the Allentown area just prior to arrival into EWR for flow control. We had made a 180 to the right, at which point the pilots made the announcement. The way he said it, I had assumed we would be there for a while, but shortly after making a second 180 to the right, the plane went left, and he announced that we were going in.
 
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77west
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:39 am

Another example is weather - my brother in law was flying to Rarotonga from Auckland and when they got to Raro the weather was pretty rough, they went into a hold for a while (5 or 6 laps with extended legs) to see if would improve. No luck so all the way back to Auckland! 7.5hrs flying for nothing.
 
Woodreau
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 4:38 am

In the US holding is a last resort tactic.

ATC has Traffic Management that will implement metering if needed to ensure arrivals don’t overwhelm airports

The ground holds that you refer to is an example of that. We get issued EDCT times. Based on the EDCT times we are used by ATC, we can either have our traffic guy in SOC try to negotiate for a better EDCT time or we can’t and rather than board everyone and wait at the end of the runway for our EDCT time. We just keep everyone at the terminal. Board and push to meet the expected EDCT time.

The tarmac delay penalty rule have driven a lot of decisions now to hold passengers in the terminal versus waiting on the ramp or at a holding pen waiting for takeoff. Or if it just get really bad flights will just cancel rather than risk the fines for exceeding the time limit.

If we push expecting to take off and while taxiing we get used an unexpected EDTC time we are more than likely going back to the gate to give the passengers the opportunity to deplane before the 3 hour limit is reached.

Once in the air ATC will issue speed restrictions and issue delay vectors to space aircraft over the arrival gates.

If speed assignments and delay vectors aren’t enough then holding instructions start going out.

Situations where I’ve encountered holding commonly is usually due to weather. Like when visibility starts going below limits. Planes can’t land when the weather is below limits so arrivals come to a standstill.

Or after a frontal passage and airports get flipped from landing one direction to landing the opposite direction. Arrivals need to get stopped while the last of the planes landing one direction complete their approaches and land. ATC flips the airport around then starts accepting arrivals again.

So holding is not as prevalent as it was in the past due to better traffic management. But it’s still used.

The last time I had to hold was because some Very Important Person was visiting and was taking a little longer to depart the airport. So while the VIP was at the airport nobody was going in or out. So we got to hold to wait for him.


And also as mentioned holding is used to do a course reversal when you fly a full instrument procedure or in a non radar environment or the controller isn’t issuing vectors to final and just clears you for an approach but doesn’t clear you for a specific approach.
 
Tristarsteve
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:37 am

Arriving at LHR from Stockholm, which I have done many hundreds of times, the hold is normal.
Once about 4 years ago the pilot announced over the PA that we were missing the hold and going straight in. He was as surprised as we were.
But in the past few years , one lap around is the normal, not more.

I went to school in Epsom near LHR. We had the Epsom beacon in our grounds. My aviation interest started in 1963 watching the aircraft circling overhead at 0800 waiting their turn to land, as we waited to go into school. Quite often we could count 8 to 10 B707 circling.
 
113312
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:25 pm

Yes, holding patterns are still used. However, some things have changed. You rarely will see a holding pattern flown as part of an instrument approach. A holding pattern might be part of the published procedure but would only be used when radar services are not available or in the rare case of communications failure. In the past, holding patterns were flown manually based upon heading and time with adjustments for wind effects. Today, holding patterns are part of the FMS database or can be added by the pilots. Once programed into the navigation system, the autopilot can accurately fly the prescribed track and manage the entry and exit automatically as well. Push button flying.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 2:40 pm

I’d love to see pilots raised on “glass” enter and fly an intersection hold with dual VORs.
 
113312
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:04 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’d love to see pilots raised on “glass” enter and fly an intersection hold with dual VORs.


You are so correct. When I learned to fly, I had to do holding at intersections using a single VOR radio. Also had to use ADF. While we are at it, we had to be able to fly an arc based upon time between segments. Modern equipment makes flying precise and much easier to plan and execute. However, little brain power is needed. While the old ways were subject to errors, so are the modern methods just different modes of error.

I am afraid that most modern pilots are not capable of basic navigation.
 
E90SLAM
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:28 pm

Seemed holding was quite common in HKG and NRT when there's influx of inbound flights (long and short hauls) in pre-covid era. Either ATC will instruct them to do some "wiggles" or even put flights on holding pattern for a few circles before approaching.
Longer route, buy more time and separation.
 
Woodreau
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 8:23 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’d love to see pilots raised on “glass” enter and fly an intersection hold with dual VORs.


I wonder if they teach the TTTTT anymore.... lol
 
Cubsrule
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 13, 2022 8:52 pm

Woodreau wrote:
So holding is not as prevalent as it was in the past due to better traffic management. But it’s still used.


Your overview was excellent, but there are also some additional reasons for fewer holds these days. One is less disparity in approach speeds in the fleet of air carrier aircraft. Chicago Approach used to hold big groups of 1900s and Jetstreams and then run them in continuously. Those low-performance props are all but gone from the US now.

Also, weather holds are probably less common than they used to be because better equipment both on aircraft and on the ground allows more approaches at lower minimums in more places.
 
LH707330
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:43 pm

Woodreau wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’d love to see pilots raised on “glass” enter and fly an intersection hold with dual VORs.


I wonder if they teach the TTTTT anymore.... lol

My institution does this, ditto steam gauge needle flying. Automation suffers from GIGO (AA965, EK407), and raw-data flying suffers from math errors and instrument misinterpretation under high workloads. If properly combined, the right blend of raw data and glass leads to better situational and positional awareness and ultimately safer flight. I always carry spare checklists to slap on iPads or the MFD if I think someone is fixating on putting the noodle on the pink line.
 
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airportugal310
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:45 pm

The damned DME arc!! Used to do that one in PVD a lot during instrument training...wonder if it even still exists anymore
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:35 am

I’m sure it’s gone, you should have done arcs at 300 KIAS on a high penetration, calculating lead points at 5000 fpm VVI down.
 
shamrock137
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Sun Jan 16, 2022 7:54 pm

airportugal310 wrote:
The damned DME arc!! Used to do that one in PVD a lot during instrument training...wonder if it even still exists anymore


Haha it does
 
FlyHossD
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Tue Jan 18, 2022 2:19 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’d love to see pilots raised on “glass” enter and fly an intersection hold with dual VORs.


One of my former carriers used NDB/NDB intersections for our (proprietary) instrument departures and missed approaches. That seems so long ago...
 
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scbriml
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Tue Jan 18, 2022 1:42 pm

BWIAirport wrote:
At least pre-covid, if you're flying to LHR long-haul and you departed on time, you're gonna do some circles before you land.


Even worse, you arrive 30 mins ahead of schedule, then spend 45 mins in the hold, then when you finally land, there’s no gate for you! Happy days. :banghead:
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Tue Jan 18, 2022 11:55 pm

scbriml wrote:
BWIAirport wrote:
At least pre-covid, if you're flying to LHR long-haul and you departed on time, you're gonna do some circles before you land.


Even worse, you arrive 30 mins ahead of schedule, then spend 45 mins in the hold, then when you finally land, there’s no gate for you! Happy days. :banghead:


Don't forget curfews! Get some shortcuts and better levels en route then hold for an hour before you can land.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:36 am

I arrived before noise curfew ended at RAF Mildenhall. Eastern Radar sent me to the hold on the approach at 3,000’, maybe lower. Anyway, I asked for F100 in the hold, telling them, if noise curfew was the reason, why would hold making C-5 p’s screeching noise over East Anglia? They said, fine, the curfew says landing, not holding.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Wed Jan 19, 2022 3:38 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I arrived before noise curfew ended at RAF Mildenhall. Eastern Radar sent me to the hold on the approach at 3,000’, maybe lower. Anyway, I asked for F100 in the hold, telling them, if noise curfew was the reason, why would hold making C-5 p’s screeching noise over East Anglia? They said, fine, the curfew says landing, not holding.


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Bless the logic of regulatory verbiage.
 
N1120A
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:55 pm

In the US, the use of published and unpublished holds is pretty uncommon. In general, ATC will just vector you until they can get you on your way - that is one of many nice things about having radar just about everywhere.

I've had to fly exactly two published holds, one because the airport was IFR and several aircraft needed to shoot it the approach and one because the approach required it and I was kept high due to MVA anyway. I've never been given an ATC issued unpublished hold for anything but practice, and this is in over 1000 hours.

In other countries, they are used all the time. LHR, as mentioned, is probably the most famous, where they have multiple published holds where they stack aircraft at various altitudes until ready to accept them.

Woodreau wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’d love to see pilots raised on “glass” enter and fly an intersection hold with dual VORs.


I wonder if they teach the TTTTT anymore.... lol


They do, though this one guy I know drives me crazy by twisting his agonizingly slow heading bug on his Aspen before he turns.

Actual radio VOR holds are overrated. Airliners have been able to program holds for decades.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are holding patterns used very much anymore and at which airfields?

Thu Jan 20, 2022 9:10 pm

N1120A wrote:
In the US, the use of published and unpublished holds is pretty uncommon. In general, ATC will just vector you until they can get you on your way - that is one of many nice things about having radar just about everywhere.

I've had to fly exactly two published holds, one because the airport was IFR and several aircraft needed to shoot it the approach and one because the approach required it and I was kept high due to MVA anyway. I've never been given an ATC issued unpublished hold for anything but practice, and this is in over 1000 hours.

In other countries, they are used all the time. LHR, as mentioned, is probably the most famous, where they have multiple published holds where they stack aircraft at various altitudes until ready to accept them.

Woodreau wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’d love to see pilots raised on “glass” enter and fly an intersection hold with dual VORs.


I wonder if they teach the TTTTT anymore.... lol



They do, though this one guy I know drives me crazy by twisting his agonizingly slow heading bug on his Aspen before he turns.

Actual radio VOR holds are overrated. Airliners have been able to program holds for decades.


I’ve held for traffic at F330 in Washington airspace, probably a couple dozen times elsewhere in the US over the years, but much less in the last decade. Lots in Brazil, India, even Europe at military bases, quite frequently going into Frankfurt, Ramstein and Spang especially during fighter recoveries. Once got lapped in the hold by a B747, both of us waiting to go into ETAR.

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