General ATC question

Hey Guys! I’ve got a question that I have been asking for a while now!

So today I was flying from Boston to JFK and whilst descending, I was told to ‘Hold over ### airport at ### altitude, Right turns, do not exceed ### knots’

Do I need to change any waypoints throughout this circle around an airfield/airport?

Can somebody please explain to me about this and why it is used?

In my theory, I think it’s used for spacing out traffic when an airspace is too busy.

Hopefully someone from the IFATC team can get to this!

Please let me know because I would really like to know about this in the future when I fly in the sim and this happens again! :)




A hold is to make space for other aircraft and no you don’t have to change your fpl just turn Lnav of fly the heading assigned by Ifatc hope this helps


Ah okay thanks!

Do I keep changing my heading as I’m going around in a circle @Justin_Betances?

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Yeah I think now im not Ifatc so if anything ask an actual Ifatc person

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I am working on becoming Ifatc just have to pass my written exam

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Great stuff!

Best of luck! :)


Yes. That would be a good idea.

Probably one of the IFATC members shall message here!

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Thanks I failed it my first two times

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You can’t ping one

Yes I know.

I’m hoping I said

Oh no! Sorry to hear that!

I hope you pass :)

Can’t wait to see you on the team soon!

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@RickG hey this awesome guy has some Ifatc questions

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Ohhh hell yeaa!

He’s amazing 🤩

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Yeah he’s also my recruiter

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Don’t quote me but I believe a holding pattern appears on your map that you can follow. You do not need to adjust your flight plan. Either do the hold manually or use LNAV.


This is the way to go. The hold which normally appears on your minimap is only there for aesthetics, LNAV will not follow it.


Thank you all for the help!

I really appreciate it :)


Repeating what others have said above, the magenta holding pattern is used for you and the controller. You will need to manually turn around it and what I mean by manually (if you don’t want to manually fly) is to keep your Autopilot setting to the instructed speed and altitude and then toggle your HDG so you make your circle. And stay in that pattern until instructed to leave it from the controller. Most of the time, they don’t last extremely long. SIngle runway ops, it may take longer, however.

The holding pattern can be used for various reasons such as: If your altitude is too high approaching an airport, the controller might put you in a hold and instruct you to descend to lose altitude so you can be vectored to the runway without having to nose dive.

Another use for it is simply a congested airspace and you may have to hold in that pattern until previous traffic is routed enough for the controller to get you in somewhere.

Another reason is that the traffic on the ground is building, causing a very long queue and the controller may put you in a hold to get some of that traffic on the ground, airborne. It’s one of the tools that can be used in those situations.


Thanks so much for the long info there @RickG!

Well explained and understandable 😃


in case someone is curious of how the magenta holding pattern looks like