Today, at my part 141 flight school I failed a stage check (flight test), because I did not perform a hold. I'm in com-multi training and was shooting a single engine approach in a Beechcraft Baron. I was inbound from the SSW preparing to shoot the GPS 01 approach. I knew the AUGIE route said "no pt", however, because I was a straight in approach, I believed that the hold was not required. So I started the approach at the BEJCY (IAF) rather than turning off course.

The examiner failed me right then and there. After the flight, he told me the ONLY time a hold/procedure turn is not required is where a "no pt" route is published. Aren't there other circumstances that relieves a mandatory hold/pt?



5 Answers 5


The correct thing to do very much depends on the clearance that you were given.

If you were simply cleared direct to BEJCY and cleared for the approach, then your instructor is correct and you should have completed the procedure turn as charted.

If the clearance included the words straight in (i.e. "cleared for the straight in GPS 01 approach"), then you could not perform the procedure turn even if you wanted to, without getting permission first.

If you are receiving radar vectors to final (i.e. "Fly heading xxx, cleared for the GPS 01 approach") or if you are doing a timed approach from a holding fix then you may not perform the procedure turn either.

There are also charts which have notes saying "NOPT for arrivals between radials xxx and xxx." or similar, which would also preclude you from performing the procedure turn under the appropriate conditions.

By default, the procedure turn is required if depicted unless there is a specific reason not to.

The AIM says:

5 − 4 − 9. Procedure Turn and Hold − in − lieu of Procedure Turn

a. A procedure turn is the maneuver prescribed when it is necessary to reverse direction to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach course. The procedure turn or hold−in−lieu−of−PT is a required maneuver when it is depicted on the approach chart, unless cleared by ATC for a straight−in approach. Additionally, the procedure turn or hold−in−lieu−of−PT is not permitted when the symbol “No PT” is depicted on the initial segment being used, when a RADAR VECTOR to the final approach course is provided, or when conducting a timed approach from a holding fix. The altitude prescribed for the procedure turn is a minimum altitude until the aircraft is established on the inbound course. The maneuver must be completed within the distance specified in the profile view. For a hold−in−lieu−of−PT, the holding pattern direction must be flown as depicted and the specified leg length/timing must not be exceeded.


The pilot may elect to use the procedure turn or hold −in−lieu−of−PT when it is not required by the procedure, but must first receive an amended clearance from ATC. If the pilot is uncertain whether the ATC clearance intends for a procedure turn to be conducted or to allow for a straight −in approach, the pilot must immediately request clarification from ATC (14 CFR Section 91.123).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Memonic SNoRT-Hold: Straight-in, No PT, Radar vectors, Timed approaches, Holding-in-lieu-of. So the comment about "only a 'no pt' note" is wrong, but these other exceptions don't seem to apply to your situation, unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Dec 2, 2015 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, that makes sense. It's a tad challenging to keep up with the ifr regs with everything com multi training throws at you. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Blake.W
    Dec 2, 2015 at 4:48
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Blake.W Indeed, I always say that the regulations are the hardest part of flying and require the most attention in order to stay legal. Of course, staying safe needs to be the top priority, but very rarely is it safer to do the illegal thing.... $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Dec 2, 2015 at 6:50

This is a good scenario from which a lot of people can learn. This is a situation where both the student and the examiner were wrong. It's common for pilots to get into the mindset that ATC always knows best and you just have to comply with whatever they say. Granted, ATC usually does know best, but anytime you are unsure if a clearance would be safe for you or if you can even comply with the clearance, you must refuse that clearance and request an amended clearance. This is during all operations, normal and emergency.

It's also common for students to become slaves to the memory aids to lists of things they are required to do, such as flying a charted holding pattern. What you must do however is always keep your brain turned on and think about your situation. In the situation you describe, your primary goal was to conduct a safe operation. As the PIC, you are allowed to deviate from regs and established procedures at your discretion in the interest of safety and to the extent required to meet the emergency. But you have to do two things: 1) declare an emergency and 2) tell ATC what you're doing. I'm assuming you did the first, but you didn't do the second.

So you should have failed - not because you didn't enter the hold - but because you didn't adhere to your clearance! All you had to do was get a different clearance. And since you were an emergency aircraft, you didn't need to make it a "request" either. You just state what you're going to do: "Baron 34P will be making a straight in approach." Period. End of issue. In that regard, your examiner was quite wrong to suggest that flying the holding pattern was either "required" or the correct thing to do under the circumstances. So he failed you for the wrong reason. In fact, had you entered that hold during an airline sim check, you'd be failed for unsatisfactory judgement.

Flying a hold in this case simply cannot be defended from a risk-management standpoint because (provided that you're not too high at the holding fix to safely continue the approach) it is poor judgement and poor decision-making. Flying around on one motor is not a good time to be spending extra time in the air. Consider also that if you are flying an instrument approach in MO, it's probably winter time and you're probably picking up some ice on that Baron. Remember that YOU are the pilot-in-command. The FAA makes lots of to-do about your responsibility as PIC. Keep in mind, provided along with that responsibility is your authority to make decisions, including deviating from rules during an emergency. Just keep ATC informed of your plans, and they will accommodate you.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Very good point about the emergency condition, since one engine was "out" (probably throttled back by the examiner). But in general the statement that you should communicate with ATC holds true, whenever you are not sure if you should hold or not, etc. Yours is the best answer so far. It is entirely correct that you never have to accept an ATC clearance, but once you do you are required to follow it until amended. $\endgroup$
    – Bill
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ Only a controller, no flying experience, but your answer seems very dangerous and incorrect (at least in a general sense). Surely a pilot reacting to an emergency can do anything they deem reasonable before advising ATC, yes? "Aviate, navigate, communicate." Telling them soon is always desirable, and the pilot will be held to account for their actions at some point later, but saying "You must declare an emergency out loud or you can't react to it" doesn't seem reasonable. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Mar 9, 2021 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the order in which you do it isn't important. If you have an engine failure on takeoff, you'll be busy for a bit. The important thing is that you declare your intentions as you are able. In the case of just stating you'll fly it straight in, you've loads of time for that. In a real emergency when lives are on the line, you can be forgiven for silence as long as your actions were appropriate. But on a checkride? Maybe, maybe not. At least you have arguments you can make during debriefing. You are right though - the radio call doesn't have to come first. Didn't mean to imply that. $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2021 at 21:59

Since an answer above already explains the conditions whereby you don't require a procedure turn, here's a mnemonic device to remember:


  • S - Straight in approach
  • H - Holding in lieu of a procedure turn
  • A - Arc
  • R - Radar vectored to final app course
  • P - NoPT depicted on chart
  • T - Timed approach
  • T - Teardrop course reversal
  • $\begingroup$ I would argue that a teardrop entry and HILPT do not belong as they would not be displayed along with a procedure turn. Most DME arcs have a NoPT verbiage. Heck, the other four would be reasons not to do a HILPT or teardrop entry. $\endgroup$
    – wbeard52
    May 4, 2018 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with beard. Your list is double-dipping arc, holding, and teardrop with "No PT" tags because arcs are labeled as such and teardrops and holds can be considered a PT in and of themselves. $\endgroup$ May 19, 2019 at 2:43

Being in that you were an "Emergency Aircraft" (engine failure) situation it could be argued that you did the safer thing under PIC Emergency authority. However, you likely should have stated that to the examiner at the time initiating the approach without the PT.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.se! $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Oct 3, 2017 at 18:19

I think your Examiner needs an examination. The AIM says "when it is necessary to reverse direction to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach course." You were straight in, no course reversal was necessary AND you were single engine. Doing a procedure turn would NOT be the safest course of action. This topic has caused a lot of angst and requires clear communication of expectations with ATC. Many Controllers will tell you doing a course reversal when one is not necessary could cause traffic problems. Best to query the controller and hear (and have recorded) "cleared straight in for the approach" or words to that effect. The key is being “aligned with the final approach course.” Some new TAA RNAV approach plates resolve this issue with a No PT arc instead of only labeling select fixes.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! Your answer may be better received by the community you provide some sources for what you say. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    May 10, 2018 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a good source: it says you should clarify with ATC whether or not you should do the procedure turn in such instances. faraim.org/aim/aim-4-03-14-351.html $\endgroup$
    – Bill
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.