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GPS/RNAV Holding

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Well-known member
Oct 2, 2003
Question about GPS holding patterns. On a 4 NM holding pattern at a GPS waypoint, how far/long do you fly outbound after crossing the fix on a parallel or teardrop entry? One minute or 4 NM? Reading through 5-3-7 in the AIM, paragraph 3 talks about the entries (specifically parallel and teardrop) and flying outbound for one minute after crossing the fix before turning back inbound. Does this apply to GPS/RNAV/DME holding as well? Paragraph 5 doesn't seem to address this. I does say that subsequent outbound legs are flown using DME or ATD distance, but it doesn't say anything about the entry. I'm still new to GPS usage under IFR and I stumped myself with a student today entering the missed approach holding pattern after a GPS approach. Here's the approach we were flying:

Thanks for your input.
If i was flying the missed... I would fly my normal 1 min leg outbound after crossing the fix.

Just my .02
The holding pattern charted in the app plate will tell you which method you need to use. I invite you to look at different chart and you will see some that are 1min and others that are 4nm. If there is no mileage specified you need to execute the holding pattern following the times as per the info that a copy FYI.
I hope this helps you answer your question.

4. Timing.
(a) Inbound Leg.
(1) At or below 14,000 feet MSL: 1 minute.
(2) Above 14,000 feet MSL: 11/2 minutes.
The initial outbound leg should be flown for 1 minute or 1 1/2 minutes (appropriate to altitude). Timing for subsequent outbound legs should be adjusted, as necessary, to achieve proper inbound leg time. Pilots may use any navigational means available; i.e. DME, RNAV, etc., to insure the appropriate inbound leg times.
(b) Outbound leg timing begins over/abeam the fix, whichever occurs later. If the abeam position cannot be determined, start timing when turn to outbound is completed.​
5. Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)/ GPS Along Track Distance (ATD). DME/GPS holding is subject to the same entry and holding procedures except that distances (nautical miles) are used in lieu of time values. The outbound course of the DME/GPS holding pattern is called the outbound leg of the pattern. The controller or the instrument approach procedure chart will specify the length of the outbound leg. The end of the outbound leg is determined by the DME or ATD readout. The holding fix on conventional procedures, or controller defined holding based on a conventional navigation aid with DME, is a specified course or radial and distances are from the DME station for both the inbound and outbound ends of the holding pattern. When flying published GPS overlay or stand alone procedures with distance specified, the holding fix will be a waypoint in the database and the end of the outbound leg will be determined by the ATD. Some GPS overlay and early stand alone procedures may have timing specified. (See FIG 5-3-5, FIG 5-3-6 and FIG 5-3-7.) See paragraph 1-1-19, Global Positioning System (GPS), for requirements and restriction on using GPS for IFR operations.​
[SIZE=-2]FIG 5-3-5[/SIZE]
Inbound Toward NAVAID



When the inbound course is toward the NAVAID, the fix distance is 10 NM, and the leg length is 5 NM, then the end of the outbound leg will be reached when the DME/ATD reads 15 NM.

[SIZE=-2]FIG 5-3-6[/SIZE]
Inbound Leg Away from NAVAID


When the inbound course is away from the NAVAID and the fix distance is 28 NM, and the leg length is 8 NM, then the end of the outbound leg will be reached when the DME/ATD reads 20 NM.
[SIZE=-2]FIG 5-3-7[/SIZE]
GPS/RNAV Holding



The inbound course is always toward the waypoint and the ATD is zero at the waypoint. The end of the outbound leg of the holding pattern is reached when the ATD reads the specified distance.

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