Use the separation given to you, trust your pilots

October, 12, 2021 by Kyle Boas

Holding patterns can be a great way to tame down and control high traffic areas without having to use huge swooping lines. You issue each aircraft a holding instruction on initial contact, which includes an altitude to maintain while flying in the pattern. Done.

Holding pattern altitude instructions in Infinite Flight can be issued for 3,000ft to 18,000ft MSL. No higher, no lower. I usually use in most scenarios, 7,000ft to 18,000ft MSL. You’d normally stack these holding patterns, meaning you’d have multiple aircraft in one holding pattern.

In the past, I didn’t have enough trust in the pilots. As you know or may not know, on Infinite Flight, aircraft must have 3nm of horizontal or 1000ft of vertical separation at all times. So, I would have one aircraft at every level of the stack. One aircraft at 4,000ft, one at 5,000ft, one at 6,000ft, and so on. By doing that, the max amount of aircraft I could hold would be 15. That’s not very scaleable, as more traffic comes that strategy will become unusable. I didn’t trust the pilots to maintain separation within the hold.

Just recently though, I tried out holding two aircraft at each altitude, maintaining the minimum 3nm horizontal spacing. To my surprise, it worked. I can now hold twice the amount of aircraft in the hold now! Then I tried out three, then four, still worked. I was amazed, why did I never try this before?

Now I can condense the holding pattern down. Instead of having this huge stack usually from 6,000ft to 18,000ft MSL, only holding 12 aircraft. Now I can hold the same amount of aircraft in a stacked hold from 6,000ft to 9,000ft MSL.

This change will drastically improve the time required to stay within the hold, and allow me to use holding patterns more in high traffic.

The main thing to take away is that I need to not overthink things, trust the pilots, and use the separation given to me.

Kyle Boas is the Founder of the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Supervisor and Infinite Flight Appeals team member. — More