So in looking at the instrument currency requirements for the FAA (6 approaches, holds, intercepting & tracking courses), I'm having difficulty nailing down what constitutes a hold.

Based on AIM 5-4-9(a)(5) where it talks about HILPT, it sounds like all I need is to do the hold-entry and get established inbound, which feels a bit odd since for a parallel-entry since that's nearly equivalent to a procedure turn (which I believe wouldn't count as a hold).

The holding pattern maneuver is completed when the aircraft is established on the inbound course after executing the appropriate entry.

Based on the above, I assume if I fly a HILPT as part of an approach in actual/simulated instrument conditions, I can count that as a hold. Following that logic, would flying the hold-entry at a missed approach fix also qualify as flying a hold? Or does that excerpt above only apply to a HILPT?

Is there any official guidance/interpretation provided in regards to this?


3 Answers 3


The entry of a hold is sufficient for the holding procedures task on the instrument rating practical test in the US and for execution of an instrument approach procedure that begins with a hold, so it follows that it would also be the appropriate standard of completion for currency purposes regarding the required holding procedure.

I think the text you quoted in the question serves as a sufficient source by itself.


Think about it this way: when do you report established in the hold?

Short answer: there isn't a clear definition of what "established" means with respect to a hold. One reports entering the hold upon crossing the fix that defines the hold.

14 CFR 61.57(c)(1)(ii) simply requires "Holding procedures and tasks." It does not specify which part, if any, of a hold is required.

For the sake of proficiency (or recency of experience, which is not necessarily the same as proficiency), which is the intent and purpose of 61.57(c), one should consider the elements of holding and procedures that are important. Holding isn't possible unless one can correctly identify the hold and determine how to enter it. Making the entry correctly (speed, altitude, correct direction of turns, establishing on the correct inbound course and on the protected side of the hold) is important, because that's the foundation of remaining in the hold, and in the case of a hold in lieu of a procedure turn, it's the essence of the entry to the approach procedure. This is basic to any holding procedure, and should be considered when seeking proficiency and currency. Most instructors will at least want to see a student or someone seeking an instrument proficiency check complete the hold entry back to the fix.

Since 1992, the FAA has held that for an approach to be counted for recency of experience, it must be conducted to minimums. One cannot simply fly the beginning of the approach, and count it for recency of experience. No such interpretation has been provided for holding procedures. A conservative rendering of the regulation, which does not specify the extend of the holding procedure that must be completed, would be to execute the full hold. If one is only doing a hold every six months, then doing at least a full hold isn't a lot to ask.

In context of the thread, by the time one has completed the entry and established on the inbound course to the fix defining the hold (for a hold in lieu of a procedure turn), one is certainly established inbound, and if cleared for the approach prior to crossing the fix (and if configured and ready for the approach), one has met the requirements to reverse course and become established. One might not get a full turn in the hold, yet has performed "holding procedures and tasks."


  • $\begingroup$ "...Since 1992, the FAA has held that for an approach to be counted for recency of experience, it must be conducted to minimums. " Actually, according to this FAA 2015 interpretation, IAP can be logged (even if you transition to VMC prior to MDA/DH), as long as you complete the Initial, Intermediate segments and are established on the final segment. See faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/files/other_visit/aviation_industry/… $\endgroup$
    – Paul Carew
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ The quote from @PaulCarew's link: A pilot may log an IAP for currency or training when the pilot accomplishes the IAP in accordance with the following conditions: ... When conducted in an aircraft maneuvering in IMC, and the aircraft transitions from IMC to visual flight conditions on the final approach segment of the IAP prior to or upon reaching MDA or DA/DH $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 0:47

I'm sure someone may have a more specific answer, but I would simply consider an entry and one lap (back to the fix) as a loggable hold. I wouldn't personally log less than one lap because I didn't really practice the technique, timing, and protected side management that completing an entire lap entails.


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