Holding at GPS Waypoints

Making it Count

Well-Known Member
#21
So I had something interesting happen recently along these lines that I've been wondering about...

Approaching the west coast from points east we were initially given a descent clearance on our assigned arrival. A couple seconds later we got "cancel the descent clearance, maintain FL320, proceed direct (fix a ways off shore) and expect holding instructions.

Okay... The wheels must have just come off...

So we are direct to the fix on a generally west southwest heading and receive the holding instructions "direct FIX, hold southwest on the inbound course, left turns, 15 mile legs, maintain FL320, EFC like eleventy hours from now."

I start to work that out but... It doesn't quite make sense. Now I'll admit holding isn't something we do very often so I might be out of practice and wrong about this but:

Direct to the fix on a southwesterly heading and holding on the inbound course with left turns would be holding southeast of the fix, would it not?

So in my head I've got some possibilities, the cardinal direction is wrong, the intended course is wrong and/or the direction of turns is wrong and whatever combinations of the three. I suspect the cardinal direction is wrong, so I go to ask about it.

Suddenly the frequency is completely jammed and when I ask all the controller does is repeat the instructions and now I can't get a word in. We're approaching the fix, my mouth is getting dry, captain is no help, and I haven't even addressed the fact that our EFC is like tenty hours past our fuel state.

Luckily just prior to the fix we get a vector toward final.

So, friends, Romans, controller types... Am I an idiot and have a fundamental flaw in my reasoning and caused that problem for myself? Or was it a rough evening for the controller?

Never did find out why the wheels came off. Went on vacation instead.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
My thought would be that the controller wanted you to maintain current heading directly to the fix then continue exact same heading past fix so you were holding on the southwest side of the fix. Then use the reciprocal of your initial heading as your inbound heading whatever that was after your entry turn. I agree the instructions are kinda weird but if they were busy then they just didn’t want to mess with figuring out your exact course at the time and just gave you a cardinal direction hoping you understood.

Reason it would be southwest of the fix in my mind would make the most sense, since you said you were pretty far off the coast and my guess is you needed to come back to the East at sometime to land. It wouldn’t make any sense to hold you on a Westerly inbound heading in the hold then send you back East after it. The controller was using it to course reverse you. Unless wherever they were sending you next had a relatively Westerly heading in which I have no explanation.

I always use the cardinal direction as my outbound heading. If they say I messed up then I would always have that as my backup. Cardinal direction never leads me wrong. If they stated wrong then its on them.
 
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cmac88

Well-Known Member
#22
So I had something interesting happen recently along these lines that I've been wondering about...

Approaching the west coast from points east we were initially given a descent clearance on our assigned arrival. A couple seconds later we got "cancel the descent clearance, maintain FL320, proceed direct (fix a ways off shore) and expect holding instructions.

Okay... The wheels must have just come off...

So we are direct to the fix on a generally west southwest heading and receive the holding instructions "direct FIX, hold southwest on the inbound course, left turns, 15 mile legs, maintain FL320, EFC like eleventy hours from now."

I start to work that out but... It doesn't quite make sense. Now I'll admit holding isn't something we do very often so I might be out of practice and wrong about this but:

Direct to the fix on a southwesterly heading and holding on the inbound course with left turns would be holding southeast of the fix, would it not?

So in my head I've got some possibilities, the cardinal direction is wrong, the intended course is wrong and/or the direction of turns is wrong and whatever combinations of the three. I suspect the cardinal direction is wrong, so I go to ask about it.

Suddenly the frequency is completely jammed and when I ask all the controller does is repeat the instructions and now I can't get a word in. We're approaching the fix, my mouth is getting dry, captain is no help, and I haven't even addressed the fact that our EFC is like tenty hours past our fuel state.

Luckily just prior to the fix we get a vector toward final.

So, friends, Romans, controller types... Am I an idiot and have a fundamental flaw in my reasoning and caused that problem for myself? Or was it a rough evening for the controller?

Never did find out why the wheels came off. Went on vacation instead.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
Just sounds like poor instructions that certainly warrant a question but when in doubt I would hold in the direction stated so southwest of the fix. Again when given holding instructions almost every controller is giving wide berth to any other traffic at the same altitude
 

cmac88

Well-Known Member
#23
The only place that truly gives any clarity is the chart in the AIM where your holding course is always the course based on the fix/navaid.
Screenshot_20180709-210124_Drive.jpg
 
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MidlifeFlyer

Well-Known Member
#24
Just sounds like poor instructions that certainly warrant a question but when in doubt I would hold in the direction stated so southwest of the fix. Again when given holding instructions almost every controller is giving wide berth to any other traffic at the same altitude
The instruction to hold southwest on "the inbound course" makes no sense. ATC makes mistakes too. The aircraft is direct to the fix on a southwesterly heading. The controller might have meant hold southwest on the reciprocal (parallel or teardrop entry) or hold northeast on the current course (direct entry), which makes the most sense for an ad hoc delaying hold. That's common.

Flying into Santa Fe one time, inbound on a northwesterly heading to the VOR, I got, "hold southeast if the VOR," with only an altitude and an EFC. Made perfect sense. This one doesn't.

I'd definitely get clarification on this one.

(@trafficinsight, Where did you get southeast? The direction of turns makes no difference)
 

trafficinsight

Well-Known Member
#25
The instruction to hold southwest on "the inbound course" makes no sense. ATC makes mistakes too. The aircraft is direct to the fix on a southwesterly heading. The controller might have meant hold southwest on the reciprocal (parallel or teardrop entry) or hold northeast on the current course (direct entry), which makes the most sense for an ad hoc delaying hold. That's common.

Flying into Santa Fe one time, inbound on a northwesterly heading to the VOR, I got, "hold southeast if the VOR," with only an altitude and an EFC. Made perfect sense. This one doesn't.

I'd definitely get clarification on this one.

(@trafficinsight, Where did you get southeast? The direction of turns makes no difference)
I misspoke, and either way if the discrepancy was north/south it wouldn't have been an issue, but east/west in this case was a huge difference.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

MidlifeFlyer

Well-Known Member
#26
I misspoke, and either way if the discrepancy was north/south it wouldn't have been an issue, but east/west in this case was a huge difference.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
Not sure I get it. Probably not important, but here's what you were describing and the two possible inbound courses.
Holding1.png
 
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Landis

Well-Known Member
#27
@trafficinsight if this was NorCal or Oakland Center I can confirm similar confusing instructions when the "excrement strikes the ventilation device." On a similar instruction that I couldn't figure out I queried them and got the reply "Doesn't really matter. Hold wherever you want on your current course, leg lengths/turn direction your discretion. Maintain 11000. EFC tomorrow."
 

NovemberEcho

Dergs favorite member
#28
I’ve always hated and disagreed (in principal) with how holding instructions work. I always felt if I tell you to hold north on the 360 radial, then you should be northbound on the 360 radial. I feel like that would end a lot of confusion.
 

cmac88

Well-Known Member
#29
@trafficinsight if this was NorCal or Oakland Center I can confirm similar confusing instructions when the "excrement strikes the ventilation device." On a similar instruction that I couldn't figure out I queried them and got the reply "Doesn't really matter. Hold wherever you want on your current course, leg lengths/turn direction your discretion. Maintain 11000. EFC tomorrow."
Sounds right..... haha. Coworker told an RJ to enter a present position hold, RJ responded that the option wasnt in his box. "Turn left, I'll tell you when to stop.":biggrin:
 

MidlifeFlyer

Well-Known Member
#31
I’ve always hated and disagreed (in principal) with how holding instructions work. I always felt if I tell you to hold north on the 360 radial, then you should be northbound on the 360 radial. I feel like that would end a lot of confusion.
I think you'd find at least as many folks confused by being instructed to hold north of a fix with the entire holding pattern being south of the holding fix.

IMO, the trouble with holding isn't the instructions or, really anything about holding itself. It's the overcomplicated way holds are taught. I remember one discussion where a pilot was convinced a hold on the 270 degree radial with an inbound course of 090 was "hold southwest" if it were right turns and "hold northwest" if it were left turns.
 

NovemberEcho

Dergs favorite member
#32
I think you'd find at least as many folks confused by being instructed to hold north of a fix with the entire holding pattern being south of the holding fix.

IMO, the trouble with holding isn't the instructions or, really anything about holding itself. It's the overcomplicated way holds are taught. I remember one discussion where a pilot was convinced a hold on the 270 degree radial with an inbound course of 090 was "hold southwest" if it were right turns and "hold northwest" if it were left turns.
no, i mean you track outbound on the 360 radial.
 

Stinger

Well-Known Member
#35
Read what I wrote again. Basically saying if I say hold north on the 360 radial, I mean track outbound on the 360 radial. If it WAS like that, I think it would make it easier to understand. At least from a controllers perspective.
That'd introduce so many problems. The way holding works, a pilot knows to start a 180 degree standard rate turn when they reach the holding fix. If the fix was the start of your outbound track....well you'd never be able to consistently (without following a gps track) fly that hold. Which would then make the protected lateral airspace in a non-radar hold even bigger.
 

trafficinsight

Well-Known Member
#36
Read what I wrote again. Basically saying if I say hold north on the 360 radial, I mean track outbound on the 360 radial. If it WAS like that, I think it would make it easier to understand. At least from a controllers perspective.
Im sure you know this quite well but...

It would work okay now with GPS and stuff but historically you track inbound to the fix because the fix was radial/radial, radial/dme, or radial/fan marker, sometimes NDB's got involved....maybe even 4 course ranges!

If you crossed the fix and tracked outbound your only way of knowing when to turn back inbound is through time, and since no one is good enough to know exactly how the wind has affected your distance travelled there's definitely no way of knowing when to turn back to the fix...

So, we track inbound and time outbound.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 
#37
I think you'd find at least as many folks confused by being instructed to hold north of a fix with the entire holding pattern being south of the holding fix.

IMO, the trouble with holding isn't the instructions or, really anything about holding itself. It's the overcomplicated way holds are taught. I remember one discussion where a pilot was convinced a hold on the 270 degree radial with an inbound course of 090 was "hold southwest" if it were right turns and "hold northwest" if it were left turns.
Wait, wouldn't it be?

I generally assume you're 100% correct, so take this as a query for clarification, because ... that's how I'd read and fly it?

I'm inbound on the 270° radial, heading 090°, and I cross the fix, turn left, I'm holding in the northwest quadrant, on the 270° radial. If I turn right, I'm holding in the southwest quadrant, on the 270° radial, right turns.

Is this not correct? Can you further clarify?

The sky is actually green, what?!

-Fox
 

Roger Roger

Paid to sleep, fly for fun
#38
Wait, wouldn't it be?

I generally assume you're 100% correct, so take this as a query for clarification, because ... that's how I'd read and fly it?

I'm inbound on the 270° radial, heading 090°, and I cross the fix, turn left, I'm holding in the northwest quadrant, on the 270° radial. If I turn right, I'm holding in the southwest quadrant, on the 270° radial, right turns.

Is this not correct? Can you further clarify?

The sky is actually green, what?!

-Fox
No, it’s “hold west” either way.
 

MidlifeFlyer

Well-Known Member
#40
Wait, wouldn't it be?

I generally assume you're 100% correct, so take this as a query for clarification, because ... that's how I'd read and fly it?

I'm inbound on the 270° radial, heading 090°, and I cross the fix, turn left, I'm holding in the northwest quadrant, on the 270° radial. If I turn right, I'm holding in the southwest quadrant, on the 270° radial, right turns.

Is this not correct? Can you further clarify?

The sky is actually green, what?!

-Fox
The quadrant us exclusively based on the location of the inbound course. Look at the picture I posted above. There is a reason I did not show either right or left turns. They don't change the location of the inbound course.

Edit. Look at the one below too. Do the direction of turns make any difference?
 
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