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4 Answers

RNAV directing routing.

Asked by: 766 views FAA Regulations, Instrument Rating, Student Pilot

When I was doing my research on direct routing I saw a interesting article as below

AIM states that,

  • Pilots of aircraft equipped with approved area navigation equipment may file for RNAV routes throughout the National Airspace System and may be filed for in accordance with the following procedures:
    • File airport-to-airport flight plans
    • File the appropriate RNAV capability certification suffix in the flight plan
    • Plan the random route portion of the flight plan to begin and end over appropriate arrival and departure transition fixes or appropriate navigation aids for the altitude stratum within which the flight will be conducted. The use of normal preferred departure and arrival routes (DP/STAR), where established, is recommended
    • File route structure transitions to and from the random route portion of the flight
    • Define the random route by waypoints. File route description waypoints by using degree-distance fixes based on navigational aids which are appropriate for the altitude stratum
    • File a minimum of one route description waypoint for each ARTCC through whose area the random route will be flown. These waypoints must be located within 200 NM of the preceding center’s boundary
    • File an additional route description waypoint for each turn-point in the route
    • Plan additional route description way-points as required to ensure accurate navigation via the filed route of flight. Navigation is the pilot’s responsibility unless ATC assistance is requested
    • Plan the route of flight so as to avoid prohibited and restricted airspace by 3 NM unless permission has been obtained to operate in that airspace and the appropriate ATC facilities are advised

Above texts are directly quoted from AIM and I often see pilots filing direct route from airport to airport and sometimes flying direct to VORs on each airway without actually flying the full airway. When I noticed my colleague pilot filing that way, I was doubtful because he did not flight planned using full airway structure.

Since the above AIM text says the word '~may be filed for in accordance with the following procedures...' is my colleague pilot doing the right thing, abiding by the regulation ?

Also, some of the Tango(T) routes consist of VORs and still flyable with GPS(which are meant to be flown with GPS...) What will happen if the VORs go out of service and will the T airway be decommissioned and put on NOTAM?



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4 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    John D Collins on Nov 05, 2016

    There is no regulation requiring the route to follow these guidelines or recommendations. They are good practices. Regardless of the route filed, ATC will assign the route in the pilot’s clearance. There are only a few situations where a route will result in the rejection by ATC, for example, you file direct thru the Washington DC FRZ. In some instances, route legs over 500 NM from the FIR boundary, particularly originating in Alaska may not be accepted by the automation.

    In general T routes will survive the elimination of VOR’s, but the same is not true for airways. In fact more T routes will be required when VOR’s are eliminated in some areas where route structure is still needed.

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  2. connor on Nov 05, 2016

    Thank you sir, so as long as I have a means to navigate directly to the fix, waypoint or intersections on airway I can file direct?

    Also question about my colleague, can he file route including VORs only ?

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  3. John D Collins on Nov 06, 2016


    Of course the route can consist of VOR’s only. On long cross country flights, that is how I typically file. So for example from the Charlotte area to the Washington DC area going to Manassas, I file GSO CSN as my route going northbound. Coming southbound, I file the SID with the GVE transition and then to GSO. I have to use my RNAV GPS to navigate the route.

    Usually adding VORs along my route only adds a minute or two to the flight. For example, the GSO CSN route from my airport Rock Hill KUZA to Manassas (KHEF) is 281 NM direct, and an extra 4 NM by using the VORs as anchor points. Controllers have a good idea of my route by using the VORs and I can cross check the GPS with my VOR when I am in reception range of the VOR.

    You can pretty much file what you want. A route consists of route elements. The route elements can named waypoints, facilities (VOR, NDB), Airports, latitude/longitudes, VOR/radial/distance fixes, Air Traffic Routes (airways, T routes, Q routes, SIDs and STARs

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  4. atcfinest on Nov 21, 2016

    The center’s computer system has pre-determined routes for controllers to issue. When you file ABC direct DEF, if that initial routing takes you through airspace the center computer does not think you should be in, it will automatically:
    1. generate routing to get you around the “problem” area
    2. restrict your file altitude to allow the routing you requested
    3. tie that routing into the last fix in the center airspace or your destination.

    Sometimes this is helpful if you are taking off from airports the green book does not have routing for. Other times, controllers tend to expect you’ll file routes you can accept and that are published.

    This being said, if N123AB files from KSNA to KFLO. LA Center’s computer will automatically generate preferential routing out of KSNA and through LA center’s airspace direct KFLO. What can be difficult to plan for is when ATC adds routing to your “direct” flight or has to vector you around special use airspace. Either way, do your best to file where you WANT to go. Also, if there’s a STAR, please file it – it’ll help everyone in the long run.

    As for VOR’s, I’ve been a controller for 11.5 years and I’ve heard the same thing since day one. Even heard it as a student pilot almost 20 years ago. Not sure there ever going to total be removed from the system. I can tell you the VOR we use at the airport I work at it pretty important.

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