What is MAHF in Aviation? (Missed Approach Holding Fix)

Missed Approach Holding Fix, abbreviated as MAHF, is a significant concept in aviation that plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of flight operations. As the name implies, a Missed Approach Holding Fix is a designated point where an aircraft can safely hold and await further instructions after executing a missed approach procedure.

During a missed approach, an aircraft is unable to land at its intended destination airport for various reasons, such as unfavorable weather conditions, equipment failure, or other safety concerns. In such situations, the aircraft needs to follow a predefined procedure to climb away from the airport and await further instructions from air traffic control (ATC).

The concept of a Missed Approach Holding Fix ensures that a missed approach procedure is completed safely and allows the aircraft to hold at a designated location without interfering with other air traffic. This holding fix provides a precise point for ATC to monitor and coordinate the aircraft’s movements, ensuring orderly and efficient flow in busy airspace.

The Role of Missed Approach Holding Fix

Missed Approach Holding Fix is an essential component of instrument flight procedures and contributes to the overall safety and efficiency of aviation operations. Let’s explore its role in more detail:

The Sequence of a Missed Approach

When an aircraft executes a missed approach, it follows a specific sequence of actions to ensure a safe departure from the runway and subsequent climb. The sequence typically involves the following steps:

1. Missed Approach Point (MAPt): The missed approach point is a predetermined point on the approach path where the pilot initiates the missed approach procedure. It is defined based on time, distance, or a specific location, such as a navigation fix. The MAPt is typically located near the runway threshold or a specific altitude.

2. Climb Instructions: After reaching the MAPt, the pilot communicates with air traffic control (ATC) to receive climb instructions. These instructions include an assigned altitude, heading, and any other relevant information to safely climb away from the airport.

3. Initial Phase of Climb: The initial phase of climb involves retracting the landing gear, adjusting the aircraft’s configuration, and complying with the assigned climb instructions. The aircraft climbs to an initial altitude, typically specified in the instrument approach procedure or assigned by ATC.

4. Missed Approach Holding Fix: Once the initial climb phase is completed, the aircraft proceeds to the Missed Approach Holding Fix. This holding fix serves as a point where the aircraft can hold and await further clearance or instructions from ATC. The MAHF is typically located at a safe distance from the airport, allowing other traffic to continue their operations smoothly.

5. Holding Procedure: At the Missed Approach Holding Fix, the aircraft enters a holding pattern as instructed by ATC. The holding pattern ensures that the aircraft remains within a specific airspace volume and maintains a safe distance from other air traffic. The holding pattern can be depicted by specific navigation aids, such as VOR (Very High-Frequency Omni-Directional Range) or NDB (Non-Directional Beacon), or by using RNAV (Area Navigation) techniques.

Importance of Missed Approach Holding Fix

The concept of a Missed Approach Holding Fix holds significant importance in aviation due to the following reasons:

Ensuring Safe Separation

Aircraft separation is crucial for maintaining safety in busy airspace. When an aircraft executes a missed approach, it may be in close proximity to other departing or arriving aircraft. By establishing a designated Missed Approach Holding Fix, ATC ensures safe separation between the aircraft conducting the missed approach procedure and other traffic.

The Missed Approach Holding Fix allows ATC to monitor the movements of the aircraft and plan for appropriate spacing between departing and arriving aircraft. This ensures that the missed approach procedure does not interfere with the normal flow of air traffic and minimizes the risk of potential conflicts or collisions.

Furthermore, the assigned holding pattern at the Missed Approach Holding Fix ensures that the aircraft remains within a specific airspace volume, reducing the risk of unauthorized entry into controlled airspace. This enhances overall safety and coordination within the airspace system.

Facilitating Efficient Traffic Flow

In addition to safety considerations, the concept of a Missed Approach Holding Fix also plays a vital role in ensuring efficient traffic flow in busy airports and airspace. By designating a specific location for the missed approach holding, ATC can effectively manage the sequencing and spacing of departing and arriving aircraft.

When an aircraft enters the holding pattern at the Missed Approach Holding Fix, ATC can coordinate with other aircraft to maintain optimal flow and reduce congestion. This is particularly crucial during high traffic periods or when multiple aircraft are concurrently executing missed approach procedures.

The Missed Approach Holding Fix enables ATC to devise efficient departure and arrival routes, considering factors such as airspace constraints, weather conditions, and runway capacities. By strategically managing the flow of aircraft, ATC can minimize delays and maximize the utilization of available resources.


In summary, Missed Approach Holding Fix is a fundamental concept in aviation that ensures the safe and efficient completion of missed approach procedures. By providing a designated point for aircraft to hold and await further instructions, the MAHF facilitates safe separation from other air traffic and enables ATC to manage traffic flow effectively.

The implementation of a Missed Approach Holding Fix enhances the overall safety and coordination of aviation operations, contributing to a seamless and organized airspace system. Pilots and air traffic controllers rely on this concept to navigate through unexpected situations and ensure the smooth operation of flights, even in challenging conditions.

For More: What is ATQP in Aviation? (Alternative Training And Qualification Programme)