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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Holding in the A330

How do you enter a holding pattern?

The reason Evergreen hired me with low time was I knew the answer to this question. Well there was more to it than that, but they did give me a simulator check to see if I "could fly" and the results ended with the fact that I also knew how to enter and exit a holding pattern.

The night before the check Bo Corby taught me how to do this amazing feat, without the use of my thumbs. Most pilots were sticking their thumbs up like painting a masterpiece... angling left, then right, or drawing pictures to figure out how to enter.

How do we enter a holding pattern in the A330?

Answer: With a pointer finger and partial gray matter.

I suppose you could use your thumb, but it wouldn't be as graceful as using a pointer finger. Unless of course you're feeling a bit overwhelmed, overworked, or perhaps you could use the finger of your choice.

The point is, we now enter the holding pattern in the MCDU with a press of a button, or two, and the plane does all the work.

Easy as 1, 2, 3...  
  1. Select lateral Nav (left side) on the location you want to hold over. (Or if you were to hold present position, 1 left is where you will start.)
  2. If a holding pattern exists, cross check the hold displayed in the MCDU with the holding pattern on your chart. Edit as necessary. 
  3. Select 6R ... INSERT*
  • If no hold exists... default values: Current inbound course to the fix. Right turns. 1.5 minute legs above 14, 000 feet and 1 minute legs below 14,000 feet. 
  • We have the ability to edit direction of turn, time, distance, and the course, as necessary. 
Holding Speeds:
  • If using managed speed, airspeed will be that for the current flap configuration (Green dot, S or F)
  • If approaching the holding pattern in "selected" speed, and more than 5 knots different from computed hold speed, "SET HOLD SPEED" will be displayed on the PFD.
  • LAST  EXIT values for UTC and FUEL
  • Latest time to exit the hold. 
  • Least amount of fuel on board to exit with alternate, reserve, and extra time.
Deleting the holding pattern:
  • Prior to entering the hold: Clear the HOLD R or HOLD L waypoint. 
  • Prior to entering or during the hold, an IMM EXIT prompt is displayed. Immediate exit.
  • At anytime when you proceed direct to a waypoint.
 Selecting IMM:
  • Prior to entering hold: Plane continues on flight plan.
  • While in hold: Flight returns immediately to holding fix, then continues on flight plan. Holding pattern is erased after crossing fix. 
  • When selected, IMM is replaced with Resume hold prompt. 
Enjoy the Journey! Next destination: Mumbai.
XO Karlene 


  1. Karlene thanks for this A330 wisdom especially with the FMS visual. Holding patterns resemble sort of ground reference maneuver patterns but on a larger scale and higher altitudes.

    Safe flight to BOM!


    1. Thanks Jeremy! Yes... the holding pattern doesn't happen often, but always good to be prepared.

  2. Going to have to try this out in Flight Sim!! :)

    1. Excellent! Let me know how it works for you. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Very interesting! More about the A330 or about other procedures!

    Do you also happen to know the difference between the engine choices for different airplane model in general? I am currently prep-ing for my interview, kinda need to know :S
    I heard RR engines are less efficient for long range, but they provide greater reliability and thrust. However this is not backed up by anyone reliable, just some random replies in a forum.

    1. Martin, I am not sure. It's something we don't deal with... because there is no need. But... inquiring minds want to know. I will ask around today...and come back and let you know. Thanks for the comment and great question!

    2. No, thank you! Take your time! Post it on your blog, Im sure a lot of people are wondering that too!

    3. Thank you Martin! I actually was tired and forgot to ask.


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