New app helps IFR pilots calculate holding patterns

2 min read

It’s fair to say that instrument pilots are most confident with holding procedures on the day of their instrument rating checkride, and the knowledge and skills slowly fade over time as unexpected holding is rarely required during normal IFR flying. Sure, many RNAV instrument approaches are now using holding patterns as the primary method for course reversal, but there isn’t much for the pilot to think about since the GPS does all the work.

2016-06-02 12.06.40Unplanned holds always seem to come at the most inopportune times, typically towards the end of a flight, when the weather is bad and you’re busy getting ready for descent and landing. A new app aims to take some of the guesswork out of holding, by allowing you to enter the instructions and visualize the procedure right on your iPad.

The Holding Pattern Computer calculates wind correction angles, headings, and required timings, given the assigned fix, your speed, and virtually any wind direction and velocity. It shows which entry procedure is appropriate and helps you remain mentally oriented to the aircraft’s relative position to the pattern, to magnetic north, and any effects of wind.

The app takes a step-by-step approach to entering the holding data, using individual screens for each component. This makes it much easier to focus on one element at a time while continuing to fly the airplane.

Step 1: Enter the holding radial and direction of turns

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Step 2: Enter the leg requirements, in either distance or time

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Step 3: Enter the aircraft heading approaching the fix

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Step 4: Enter your aircraft true airspeed

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Step 5: Enter the the approximate winds aloft speed and direction

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Step 6: View the detailed instructions, including entry type, visual depiction of the procedure and headings to fly to correct for the wind

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The Holding Pattern Computer is available for $3.99 in the app store, and works on both iPhone and iPad.