This specifically pertains to VOR approaches, but I guess it can apply anywhere else that has a hold in lieu of procedure turn (HILPT) also. There are numerous examples but let's try one: KUKI VOR-A.

If you were approaching from say the North (thus a teardrop entry is most suitable), does the hold constitute your course reversal, or must you conduct the procedure turn to get established for a simple ASEL? 5.3 miles out seems pretty good to get distance to get established, but maybe I'm missing something as an early instrument student? Do you have to contact ATC to let them know this is the way you'd conduct the reversal?

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    $\begingroup$ The hold on that chart is a dotted line, which means it's part of the missed approach. If it were in lieu of a procedure turn, it would be shown as a solid line. I believe the only course reversal shown on that chart is the procedure turn. ATC could just vector you to final, of course. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jun 15, 2020 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Pondlife - You are very much correct. The hold in the example is for the missed approach procedure. Technically, there is not a hold to start the approach. One can be requested in order to gain time or lose altitude. But, it would be a separate request/clearance for the hold, then a request for the procedure. On the other hand, there is nothing stopping Saigafreak from only flying two miles outbound from ENI before starting their turn back onto the appropriate radial. Though, parallel & teardrop turns would be unorthodox. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    Jun 15, 2020 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ Note the hold depicted is for the missed approach since it has dotted lines; a charted HILPT would be solid. That said, you can ask for nearly anything, and presumably ATC would grant it without requiring you to miss once first. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jun 15, 2020 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ It would be nice if the body of the question had some content that would explain to non-instrument pilots what the acronym in the title actually stands for. (Not ATC, but the other one.) Something about a procedure turn I suppose... $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2020 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Quiet Flyer - Yes, I am instrument rated and not sure about that one. Thought it was an intersection, but it isn’t on the plate, and Stephen used it in the context of a published procedure turn... Somebody? $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2020 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


Typically, the way that it works in my local area is that the pilot would request the full procedure when wanting to use a course reversal. This would be interpreted by ATC to mean the pilot was going to fly direct to the IAF requested by the pilot when requesting the IAP. ATC would then vector the pilot in a manner to get the pilot to intercept the course at the most advantageous angle. The pilot may request to self vector, though. The pilot would then fly outbound on the IAP for the PT.

The PT has to be done along the outbound course. Though there is not a specific distance the pilot must fly in order to do the PT, it has to be flown in such a manner that the aircraft does not exceed a specific distance. The pilot can, however do the PT in as little a space as that provided by a hold.

If the pilot chooses to use the hold as a course reversal instead, they would request the hold first. They would follow that request up either with another radio call or within the same radio call with stating the intent of using the IAP to approach for a landing, touch and go, low approach, etc.

If the pilot does not make their intent clear when requesting the approach ATC will ask for the pilot to state their intentions. On a slow day, they may just ask you to report the FAF when inbound for a landing.

Remember though, the procedure for using an IAP would be to have your aircraft established on the lateral guidance, fully configured for a landing, at or prior to the FAF. That would preclude the possibility of flying directly to the FAF from any other angle or direction, then descending down for a landing. Because of that, ATC would be expecting you to do some type of course intercept or course reversal on the intermediate leg.

  • $\begingroup$ "ATC would then vector the pilot in a manner to get the pilot to intercept the course at the most advantageous angle." — not sure what you mean by this. If someone asks me for the full procedure starting at the IAF, I clear them direct the fix and let them figure out how to get aligned with the final approach course, in accordance with the FARs and the approach plate. I wouldn't vector them onto final approach course or any other kind of course. (Perhaps if I worked at a busier facility I would vector them toward the IAF before clearing them for the full approach.) $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Apr 12, 2021 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ @randomhead - Thanks for your input from your ATC POV. That is my exact point. Unless the pilot asks for the full procedure, ATC has the leeway to vector the aircraft to be lined up with the lateral guidance of the runway. That usually means vectoring them to the Intermediate Leg of the procedure (usually between the IAF & FAF). Our controllers at the busy Class D airports out of which I fly take advantage of this a lot. They will vector the aircraft to the approach so that the time that aircraft has the approach tied up will be limited. Especially when the airspace is extremely busy. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    Apr 12, 2021 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @randomhead - As far as “most advantageous angle” ATC will Vector the pilot to intercept the course at less than a 90° (less than 90° of course correction to intercept) per AIM 5-4-3 & 5-4-6. It is also advantageous to ATC so that they may still control traffic separation. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    Apr 12, 2021 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ I think I see what you mean: where you are ATC does vector onto the approach course, so that the pilot doesn't have the option of executing the full procedure (and tying up the airspace)? That makes sense, and that's where the 90º rule comes in to play—they have to intercept at 90º or less, or they have to be allowed to do a course-reversal maneuver, not both. I think we're on the same page. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Apr 13, 2021 at 17:02

In the case of an airport like KRWL, if I clear you direct FIKLA, I expect you to do a hold in lieu of procedure turn. KRWL RNAV22 If I clear you direct FIKLA, I've put you on a random GNSS route, and I have to keep you in radar coverage until you get to FIKLA. For KRWL, this means keeping you at or above 12,000, which is almost 2000 feet above the start of the profile. You need that hold-in-lieu to get your aircraft down to an altitude that's safe for starting the descent profile.

Even if I could clear you down to 10100 (too much granite in the way), I'd expect you to make a hold-in-lieu at any angle over 90 degrees, and would protect the pattern. The only time I would not protect the pattern with a direct FIKLA routing would be if I specifically cleared you for a straight-in approach, which has its own conditions, including the GNSS radar requirements.

In KRWL's case, I would probably give you either the ARFEJ or CEXIT transitions (which also need 12000 on a random route), and let you get the aircraft down before FIKLA. Note that these are "NoPT" legs, so I will not protect the hold-in-lieu on the back end, only the route legs.


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