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5 Answers

STAR – Crossing Altitudes

Asked by: 2656 views Airspace, FAA Regulations

See KEWR Philbo Three Arrival: For example refer segment between STEFE and SOMTO. If cleared "descend via" I cross STEFE at or above 13000 and SOMOTO at 11000. However, note the 5000 foot altitude on this segment. When would a pilot use the 5000 foot altitude? Thank you for the feedback.

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5 Answers



  1. Mark Kolber on Jul 01, 2013

    It’s an advisory* minimum altitude for the segment when not “cleared via.”

    Remember that “cleared via” altitudes (like all parts of a STAR) are charted work-saving replacements for ATC instructions. They are not minimum IFR altitudes for other purposes.

    *I recently raised a question in another forum as to whether the route altitudes like the 5000′ are truly MEAs, since they look like MEAs. I’ve wondered about this because I have seen STAR segments co-located with Victor airways where the identical segment on the STAR is thousands of feet higher than the MEA on the en route chart.

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  2. Ale on Jul 01, 2013

    Mark,
    The 5000 ft is not an advisory minimum altitude. It’s the MEA between STEFE and SOMOTO.
    Ref: JEPPESEN, INTRODUCTION, SID/DP AND STAR LEGEND GRAPHIC, PAGE 82.

    Dan,

    I will answer your question with a question.

    While en route, cruising at FL250, the ATC issued a clearance for me to descent to 2500 feet with crossing restriction of 13000 ft at point A and 11000 ft at point B. However, the en-route chart shows that the MEA between A and B is 5000 ft. When would I use the 5000 foot altitude? the answer is: I can descent to the MEA (i.e. 5000 ft) at any time I see a reason for it provided I obtain an ATC clearance; otherwise, I must comply with the crossing restrictions.

    So, in our case, the 5000 ft is our MEA, whereas, the 13000 & 11000 are the ATC restriction altitudes (used for safe and efficient ATC management); ATC may clears us to fly below alt restrictions but won’t clear us to descent below the MEA (with some exceptions).

    “…Altitude crossing restrictions associated with SIDs and STARs exist for two primary purposes: 1) to provide vertical separation from traffic on different routings that cross the same fix, and 2) to contain traffic vertically within a given ATC controller’s sector in cases where other sectors within the same facility, or sectors in another facility, are layered above and below…”

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  3. Mark Kolber on Jul 01, 2013

    Ale, I know. The legend for the FAA charts says the same thing. But take a look at the STAR for the DRONE1 into KORF (http://155.178.201.160/d-tpp/1307/00291DRONE.PDF). As an example, compare the “MEA” for the RDU transition with the exact same route on the en route chart (http://skyvector.com/?ll=36.217834851630215,-77.69824219117845&chart=302&zoom=3&plan=V.K7.RDU:V.K7.TYI:V.K7.CVI:F.K7.DRONE)

    So defining MEA as the FAA does, the “lowest published altitude between radio fixes that assures acceptable navigational signal coverage and meets obstacle clearance requirements between those fixes.” what are the MEAs along that transition? FL190 descending down to 11,000 crossing CVI (the STAR) or 9-16 thousand feet lower (the en route chart)?

    See my question? If you have the Jepp charts for the same transition, I’d be curious how they “approach” it.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Jul 02, 2013

    >>The 5000 ft is not an advisory minimum altitude. It’s the MEA between STEFE and SOMOTO.

    Ale, the legend for the FAA charts say the same thing. But before you commit to that, take a look at the DRONE1 arrival into KORF. Here’s the graphic chart (http://%28http//155.178.201.160/d-tpp/1307/00291DRONE.PDF) and the text description (http://155.178.201.160/d-tpp/1307/00291DRONE_C.PDF). Although it works for either transition, let’s use the RDU transition.

    On the RDU transition, the segments from RDU to CVI shows a FL190 altitude along the segment (I’m not talking about the turbojet planning information) going down to 11,000′ after CVI to DRONE.

    The legend for the FAA SID/STAR charts agrees with you – it tells us this is the MEA for those route segments. The FAA defines the MEA as “the “lowest published altitude between radio fixes that assures acceptable navigational signal coverage and meets obstacle clearance requirements between those fixes.”

    OK. So, according to the DRONE1 charts, there is no guaranteed navigation signal or obstacle clearance below FL190 along the routing from RDU to CVI. After crossing CVI, it goes down to 11,000′ until DRONE.

    Now, look at the low en route chart for the exact same route – http://skyvector.com/?ll=36.217834851630215,-77.69824219117845&chart=302&zoom=3&plan=V.K7.RDU:V.K7.TYI:V.K7.CVI:F.K7.DRONE

    RDU → TYI MEA 2500′; TYI → CVI MEA 1800′; CVI → DRONE MEA 2,000′.

    So, is the “lowest published altitude between radio fixes that assures acceptable navigational signal coverage and meets obstacle clearance requirements” FL190 descending down to 11,000 crossing CVI (the STAR) or 9-16 thousand feet lower (the en route chart)?

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  5. Mark Kolber on Jul 02, 2013

    Sorry for the duplicate post. Somehow the first one didn’t show up in my browser when I came over to read the forum this morning.

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