How do holding patterns work?

Hi IFC, as you would know this weekend EGLL will controlled by IFATC. Considering there is going to be a substantial amount of traffic airspace will certainly become congested. This will more than likely cause delays and holding patterns instructed by IFATC. I will be flying into this airspace in hours time, and I would like to get a grasp on how to fly a holding pattern. I understand that they are usually one minute long intervals with left or right turns, though I’m unsure of how to go about this if instructed to fly one by ATC. Will I be able to set this into autopilot? Or will I have to change the headings manually in regards to my location from the pattern?

Its not pattern work @Alexander_Nikitin.

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Please take a second read @Alexander_Nikitin

Isn’t this pattern work?

So, basically, the ATC will put you in a holding pattern above a certain Waypoint or VOR, and they will also instruct which turns to make. If they put you in a holding pattern over, for example Biggin VOR, right turns. You will fly to Biggin VOR and begin a series of right hand 360’s until the ATC decide to hand you over to tower for landing.


Okay thanks! So will ATC instruct us to turn when we need to, or do we just follow the pattern and turn the heading when needed?

You will fly to the VOR or waypoint at an assigned heading and then be instructed to make a series of 360s

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ye London is really popular for Holding patterns due to the amount of aircraft around and the other London Airports. If you are put on hold dont panic take your time and follow ATC instructions carefully.

Safe landings @Ben_McCarthy

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Okay great! I understand now thanks for helping me out, I appreciate it.


no problem were all here to help.

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I have flagged this for closure, if you have any other queries regarding your inbound to Heathrow, please shoot me a PM.

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There’s over 100 inbounds last time I looked. It’s going to be hectic, though that’s what makes it fun.

Thanks so much once again, I appreciate it.

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what did i do wrong @Patrick_McCormack

No Josh, not you! I flagged it for closure as the OP’s question has been answered. Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong.

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ah i get it got confuzzled

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Hopefully this may help you @Ben_McCarthy

Usually only direct entry pattern is sufficient. If there is holding, just follow and maintain safe distance with the aircraft in the pattern as well will do :)

Safe landings for you and everyone else! ;)

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Thank you! This really helps

I didn’t see this mentioned, but the holding pattern will show up on your map.

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Can you set it as a waypoint? For example will it show up as a normal instruction in purple writing at the top (such as turn turn heading 90*), like it would usually when you’re just flying from waypoint to waypoint?