Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

3 Answers

What is an “unpublished” RNAV route, and when can you fly it?

Asked by: 5213 views Airspace, FAA Regulations, Instrument Rating

What is an “unpublished” RNAV route, and when can you fly it?

Ace Any FAA Written Test!
Actual FAA Questions / Free Lifetime Updates
The best explanations in the business
Fast, efficient study.
Pass Your Checkride With Confidence!
FAA Practical Test prep that reflects actual checkrides.
Any checkride: Airplane, Helicopter, Glider, etc.
Written and maintained by actual pilot examiners and master CFIs.
The World's Most Trusted eLogbook
Be Organized, Current, Professional, and Safe.
Highly customizable - for student pilots through pros.
Free Transition Service for users of other eLogs.
Our sincere thanks to pilots such as yourself who support AskACFI while helping themselves by using the awesome PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android aviation apps of our sponsors.

3 Answers

  1. Mark Kolber on May 13, 2013

    There’s some discussion of this in the AIM but you have to look in more than one place. Specifically, you have to look at “unpublished RNAV routes” (AIM 5-3-4(b)) and “unpublished routes” in the Pilot/Controller Glossary for the broader defintion.

    But, in this case it’re really just English a route using RNAV equipment that’s not published on the charts – no V, T or Q routes with MEAs and defined courses.

    When you have a clearance to by directly between a series of VORs without being on a Victor airway, you are on an “unpublished” route. When you get a clearance to fly from the departure airport to the destination airport “direct” using GPS navigation, you are on an “unpublished RNAV route.”

    When can you fly one? Well, in addition to the usual – a clearance to do so, required altitude (1,000 AGL/2,000 AGL in mountainous terrain) and, maybe obviously, the proper RNAV equipment – the one extra requirement is that you be in radar contact.

    +2 Votes Thumb up 2 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  2. John D. Collins on May 13, 2013


    I agree with you, an unpublished route (sometimes called a random or impromptu route) is one that isn’t charted. A charted IFR route always has a minimum altitude associated with it that provides terrain clearance. In the current AIM and in the past, anytime an aircraft is flying on an unpublished RNAV route, radar monitoring was required. This is being updated as we speak. Alaska doesn’t have the requirement that the unpublished route requires radar monitoring for over 3 years. The requirement in the CONUS was recently changed and now permits flight on unpublished routes under certain circumstances:

    FAA Order N JO 7110.613, effective 2/19/2013 states:

    Notwithstanding requirements for radar separation or radar monitoring of RNAV aircraft on random (impromptu) routes at FL 450 and below as specified in JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, the altitude and distance limitations of this paragraph do not apply to GNSS-equipped aircraft departing from an airport, under the following conditions:

    a. The GNSS-equipped departure must be cleared via, or reported to be established on, point-to-point route segments.
    b. The points must be published NAVAIDs, waypoints, fixes or airports recallable from the aircraft’s navigation database. The points must be displayed on controller video maps or depicted on the controller chart displayed at the control position. The maximum distance between points when applying nonradar separation must not exceed 500 miles.
    c. Protect 4 miles either side of the route centerline.
    d. Assigned altitude must be at or above the highest MIA along the projected route segment being flown, including the protected airspace of that route segment.

    +4 Votes Thumb up 4 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  3. Mark Kolber on May 13, 2013

    That’s terrific additional information, John.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 1 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.