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How does a pilot follow a holding pattern? Do pilots have to manually change heading and altitude (through the autopilot) each time they are making a turn? Or is it something the Flight Management Computer (FMC) can handle?

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  • $\begingroup$ You might need to improve your question. You added air-traffic-control tag in your question but the question body has nothing to do with ATC. Also "How do holding patterns work?" is a very broad title that will call for a variety of answers. $\endgroup$ – Stelios Adamantidis Oct 24 '17 at 8:02
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Generally speaking the Flight Management Computer supports holding patterns. The pilot inputs the holding fix (usually a NDB/VOR), the direction of the hold (Left/Right), the inbound course, and the time/distance that one holding leg shall take to execute. These information can be found on aeronautical charts, as IFR holding patterns are published for each airport. As far as I know pilots are also trained to fly holding patterns manually, but you can understand that flying the pattern manually is not as precise as flying the pattern via the autopilot.

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