AAV Training Module
Procedure Turns
By Gary Hader
Asst. Training Director - Checkrides

A procedure turn is the maneuver used when it is necessary to perform a course reversal to establish the aircraft inbound on a final approach course. The procedure turn is not required when the symbol "NoPT" appears on the approach plate, when the flight is radar vectored 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 shown in one of three different ways, 45/180 degree procedure, a holding pattern, or a teardrop procedure. Components of the procedure are depicted in the plan and profile view of the appropriate Instrument Approach chart. The maneuver must be completed within the distance and at the minimum altitude specified in the profile view. In the profile view below, the procedure must be completed within 10 NM of the VOR at a minimum altitude of 3000 MSL.


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.


Standard 45/180 Procedure Turn -

To practice this type of procedure turn, start timing after passing A for 2 minutes (A to B). At B, turn 45 degrees (standard rate) left or right as shown on the approach procedure chart. After rolling out, fly your new heading for approximately 1 minute (B to C).

At C, start a turn of 180 degrees (C to D). At completion of the turn, time for approximately 45 seconds from D to E. The actual amount of time will vary with the wind. Set you VOR/CDI to the inbound course. As you begin to see activity on your VOR/CDI needle, start your turn at E for the 45 degree change of heading to inbound course. This heading will be the reciprocal of heading at beginning of maneuver. Continue tracking inbound and complete the prescribed Instrument Approach Procedure.

If you are flying the procedure turn as part of an Instrument Approach Procedure, you would begin the first turn at B at your discretion after passing the outbound waypoint A, as shown on the chart. Keep in mind that there may be a maximum distance within which this entire procedure must be performed.

Holding in Lieu of Procedure Turn -

A holding pattern in lieu of a procedure turn may be shown for course reversal in some procedures. In these 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. 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 the pilot 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 -


When a teardrop procedure turn is shown and a course reversal is required, this type of procedure must be executed. The teardrop procedure consists of a departure from an IAF (A) 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 heading of the original entry heading. As in the Standard 45/180 procedure, use your VOR/CDI needle to track inbound .

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