Procedure Turns

A procedure turn is the maneuver prescribed when it is necessary to perform a course reversal to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach course. The procedure turn or holding in lieu of a procedure turn is a required maneuver. The procedure turn is not required when the symbol "NoPT" appears, when radar vectoring to the final approach, when conducting a timed approach, or when the procedure turn is not authorized.

Course reversals included in an Instrument Approach Procedures are depicted in one of three different ways, 45/180 degree procedure, a holding pattern, or a teardrop procedure. The maneuvers are required when it is necessary to reverse direction to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach course. Components of the procedure are depicted in the plan view and the profile view. The maneuver must be completed within the distance and at the minimum altitude specified in the profile view:
IAP Profile View

A procedure turn barbed arrow indicates the direction or side of the outbound course on which the procedure turn is made. Headings are provided for course reversal using the 45 degree procedure turn. However, the point at which the turn may be commenced, and the type and rate of turn is left to the discretion of the pilot. Some of the options are the 45/180 procedure turn itself, the racetrack pattern, the teardrop procedure turn or the 80/260 course reversal.

The absence of the procedure turn barbed arrow in the plan view means indicates that a procedure turn is not authorized for that procedure. A maximum procedure turn speed of not greater than 200 knots KIAS should be observed when turning outbound over the IAF and throughout the maneuver to ensure staying within the obstruction clearance area. The normal procedure turn distance is 10 NM. Descent below the procedure turn altitude begins after the aircraft is established on the inbound course.

IAP Profile View

Standard Procedure Turn 45/180 Standard 45/180 Procedure Turn -

To practice this turn other than as part of an approach, start timing at A for 2 minutes from A to B. At B, turn 45 degrees (standard rate). After roll-out, fly 1 minute to C.

At C, turn 180 degrees. At completion of the turn, time 45 seconds from D to E. Start turn at E for 45 degree change of heading to reciprocal of heading at beginning of maneuver.

If you are flying the procedure turn as part of an IAP, you would begin this turn at your discretion after passing the outbound waypoint as charted, then once inbound, watch the CDI or ADF so that you roll out on the inbound course.

Holding in Lieu of Procedure Turn -

A holding pattern in lieu of a procedure turn may be specified for course reversal in some procedures. In such cases, the holding pattern is established over an intermediate fix or a final approach fix (FAF). The holding pattern distance or time specified in the profile view must be observed. Maximum holding airspeed limitations as set forth for all holding patterns apply. The holding pattern maneuver is completed when the aircraft is established on the inbound course after executing the appropriate entry (see Holdings for detailed instructions on flying a holding). If cleared for the approach prior to returning to the holding fix, and the aircraft is at the prescribed altitude, additional circuits are not necessary nor expected by ATC. If pilots elect to make additional circuits to lose excess altitude or to become better established on the course, it is their responsibility to advise ATC upon receipt of their approach clearance. When holding in lieu of a procedure turn, the holding pattern must be followed, except when radar vectoring to the final approach course is provided or when NoPT is shown on the approach course.

Teardrop Procedure Teardrop Procedure -

When a teardrop procedure turn is depicted and a course reversal is required, unless otherwise authorized by ATC, this type of procedure must be executed. The teardrop procedure consists of a departure from an IAF on the published outbound course followed by a turn toward and intercepting the inbound course at or prior to the intermediate fix or point. Its purpose is to permit an aircraft to reverse direction and lose considerable altitude within reasonably limited airspace. Where no fix is available to mark the beginning of the intermediate segment, it shall be assumed to commence at a point 10 NM prior to the FAF.

At B, enter a standard-rate turn for 30 degree change of heading. Time one minute from B to C. At C, enter standard-rate turn for a 210 degree change of heading, rolling-out on the reciprocal of the original entry heading. As usual, intercept the inbound course based on the CDI or ADF.

For practice, you'll find a teardrop procedure on the ILS 12 at KSMX. IAPs with a holding in lieu of a procedure turn include the ILS 30 at KLGB, the ILS 19R at KSNA and the VOR or GPS-A at KVNY.

You can find these charts at

Lastly, you can see the "barbed arrow" on the VOR/DME or GPS-B at KVNY and the VOR or GPS RWY 25 at KSBA, and just about any other approach that is not holding or teardrop. Enjoy!


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