I'm learning ATC and one question is worrying me..

How do I tell a pilot to exit a hold and continue inbound...

Eg: pilot has entered hold and done one orbit. and started the second, and I want the aircraft to turn again 180 degree on inbound.

Basically how do I tell an aircraft to break out the stack, and continue flight plan.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Note that a hold and an orbit are different to one another. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 3:06

3 Answers 3


This depends on what exactly you want the aircraft to do:

Immediately depart the hold and fly directly to another fix:

N1234 cleared to 'clearance limit' via direct 'fix' and then as previously filed.

Immediately depart the hold and fly an assigned heading:

N1234 Cleared to 'clearance limit' via radar vectors. Fly heading 'heading'.

Proceed to another fix after passing the holding point inbound:

N1234 After 'holding fix', cleared to 'clearance limit' via direct 'fix' and then as previously filed.

Fly the published approach after passing the holding point inbound:

N1234 Maintain 'altitude' until 'holding fix', cleared 'approach name'.


Lastly, add the altitude to any of the above clearances if it is different than the current altitude by adding a climb/descend and maintain 'altitude' clearance.


Simply clear the aircraft to a new fix or provide vectors, depending on the situation. There's no need to explicitly state that they should exit the hold. If you'd like them to continue as per the flight plan, you can use something like (at least in the US):

NOVEMBER 368 JULIET ECHO, CLEARED TO (destination) VIA LAST ROUTING CLEARED [(further instructions)].

Reference: FAA AIM, paragraph 4-6-2

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is nothing against your answer (which is a direct quote from the AIM so should be correct), but I have never heard this clearance used. Instead I hear "as previously filed/cleared". $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 14:49

When you issue the hold you should give them an expect further clearance time, so that's one way to imply that they will be exiting.

Usually I hear ATC say "report procedure turn inbound" or in the case of your question, "report inbound to [the fix]" right after the aircraft turns outbound the second/third/nth time. When the pilot reports inbound, ATC might say "pass [hold fix] at or above [altitude]," but definitely "proceed on course/you're clear for the approach."

Sorry if my terminology is off, I haven't flown IFR in a while.


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