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SID/STAR for IFR flights


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Just flew my second IFR flight and had some questions. I chose a SID, STAR, and Approach for my route. The ground controller at my departure airport however gave me a totally new SID, which really confused me because I wasn't expecting to get a new route after I had already planned one out. I didn't plan one for my first flight and the controller was confused I didn't have one, whereas this second flight the controller gave me a totally new one. So this left me confused on how I'm supposed to file an IFR flight plan.

Is the responsibility on me to find the correct SID/STAR/Approach for my route or the controllers?

Perhaps I just chose wildly incorrect procedures... 🤷🏼‍♂️

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Depends greatly on where in the world you are.

In the US, the pilot files the SID and STAR along with the enroute portion.  In many other places, the pilot files the enroute portion, and the SID and STAR are assigned by ATC.

If you file an IFR plan, you're expected to include a route, and it would indeed confuse a controller if you did not do so.  On the other hand, that route should comply with some basic conventions for reasonable traffic flow, the main one being that you should stick to charted IFR airways as much as you can and try to avoid too many route segments that cross randomly from one nav-aid to another.  In fact, there are many "preferred IFR routings" in the US which you should try to file unless there's a compelling reason (usually weather) to do something different.  So that might be why the controller tried issuing you a better one.

EDIT TO INCLUDE: also, sometimes the SID or STAR you choose is not pertinent to your aircraft type (it may say, for example, "TURBOJET ARICRAFT ONLY"), or, it may only be pertinent to one landing direction when the airport's current operation is in the opposite flow.

Here's a quick tutorial on IFR route planning in the US -- hopefully it helps.

 

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr
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Cheers,

-R.

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Thank you for this! I actually just bought a Navigraph subscription this morning because I thought it'd make flight planning idiot proof. Though it seemed to help a little, it's still pretty involved as your video demonstrates. I think I'll stick to using SimBrief to automatically generate a flight plan. I didn't realize SimBrief was also generating the SID/STAR routing as well because it doesn't show that (as far as I can tell) on the webapge, but now that I actually loaded up the PLN file into MSFS2020 I see the departure and arrival procedure.

So with that being solved, what do you recommend for approach? I had this problem where I was trying to find an approach, but nothing connected directly to the end of the approach. Is this a case of just choose what's closest? Or perhaps let ATC vector you in?

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Simbrief is an excellent resource.

On top of it, if you fly airliners, FlightAware is a great resource for flights to and from North America: https://de.flightaware.com/live/flight/DLH401

Enter your airfield of departure and arrival, if this city-pair is served by real airlines, you'll get a list of realworld flightplan routes, flight numbers and even the parking gates. This way you can simulate your flight 100% realistic in terms of flightplanning. Simbrief and Skyvector take their flightplan route suggestions from the same source that FlightAware gets it from, except that FlightAware displays additional information that you might find interesting. When I fly in North America I use it all the time in order to use realistic callsigns and parking gates.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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11 hours ago, Faiz-ur Rahman said:

So with that being solved, what do you recommend for approach? I had this problem where I was trying to find an approach, but nothing connected directly to the end of the approach. Is this a case of just choose what's closest? Or perhaps let ATC vector you in?

You can make your best guess prior to departing from your origin, but, you never really know what approach and runway you'll get for arrival until you're descending toward your destination.  The first thing that usually happens once you're passed from the Center to the Approach controller is you're given your expected approach and runway assignment.  The keyword is "expected" because even then, it may change depending on the needs for traffic flow.

A reasonably functional FMC should allow you to adjust your programmed route to terminate with any approach needed, on-the-fly once you're assigned it.  If you're flying something a bit more rudimentary and can't adjust the programmed path in flight, you might not be able to accept RNAV approaches and would have to stick with visuals, or ILS/LOC/VOR/NDB approaches that you tune and track using your NAV or ADF radios.

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr
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Cheers,

-R.

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8 hours ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Simbrief is an excellent resource.

On top of it, if you fly airliners, FlightAware is a great resource for flights to and from North America

Yep, I covered both in my video.  They're great for airliner flights, but for anything GA, you have to look really carefully at the suggested routes and ensure they're pertinent for your aircraft type. 

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Cheers,

-R.

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4 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

You can make your best guess prior to departing from your origin, but, you never really know what approach and runway you'll get for arrival until you're descending toward your destination.  The first thing that usually happens once you're passed from the Center to the Approach controller is you're given your expected approach and runway assignment.  The keyword is "expected" because even then, it may change depending on the needs for traffic flow.

A reasonably functional FMC should allow you to adjust your programmed route to terminate with any approach needed, on-the-fly once you're assigned it.  If you're flying something a bit more rudimentary and can't adjust the programmed path in flight, you might not be able to accept RNAV approaches and would have to stick with visuals, or ILS/LOC/VOR/NDB approaches that you tune and track using your NAV or ADF radios.

Thanks again! This helps explain why SimBrief doesn't add the approach to the flight plan.

In terms of SimBrief, should I always expect it to generate a SID/STAR for my route? I flew KJAX to KTPA today and it looks like SimBrief only generated the SID and I had to calculate the STAR myself.

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SimBrief pulls from recent flights filed on VATSIM.  That doesn't mean those routes were valid and complete. 

Looks like the FlightAware IFR Route Analyzer had some decent suggestions.  Referring back to what I said in the video, that's the second place I recommend looking. 

https://flightaware.com/statistics/ifr-route/

In any case, if you want to use SimBrief to prefile, format, and generate a full brief document for your flight, but find a better route from somewhere else, you can manually enter it in SimBrief's Flight Details page.  You're not limited to the suggestions it gives. 

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Cheers,

-R.

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9 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

SimBrief pulls from recent flights filed on VATSIM.

oh, does it? I thought that it primarily used search results from the same source that Skyvector and Flightaware get their data from, too. Outside this coverage area it would revert to "historic" flightplans from VATSIM. But I assume that you are more into the workings of Simbrief, so I am happy to have learnt something new.

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Actually I misspoke a bit -- I believe it pulls from recent routes created *within SimBrief* regardless of whether you then file them on VATSIM.  I do know that when creating a tutorial years ago on how to create an IFR route between two airports when SimBrief had no suggestions, after creating the tutorial, SimBrief started suggesting the route I created for that flight when I attempted to repeat the demonstration.

Point is, it definitely has user-created routes, which may not be fully vetted, among its sources. 

It may also pull from FlightAware and the PRD; I don't know.  I would've guessed that such routes get into SimBrief's database when other sim pilots file them. 

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr
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Cheers,

-R.

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On 9/7/2020 at 11:12 AM, Robert Shearman Jr said:

You can make your best guess prior to departing from your origin, but, you never really know what approach and runway you'll get for arrival until you're descending toward your destination.  The first thing that usually happens once you're passed from the Center to the Approach controller is you're given your expected approach and runway assignment.  The keyword is "expected" because even then, it may change depending on the needs for traffic flow.

A reasonably functional FMC should allow you to adjust your programmed route to terminate with any approach needed, on-the-fly once you're assigned it.  If you're flying something a bit more rudimentary and can't adjust the programmed path in flight, you might not be able to accept RNAV approaches and would have to stick with visuals, or ILS/LOC/VOR/NDB approaches that you tune and track using your NAV or ADF radios.

Another question from my flight tonight. A center controller cleared me for a visual runway approach tonight. Unfortunately MSFS2020 crashed before I could fly what I assumed he meant and maybe get yelled at if I was wrong. 😅 I assume this means that I can use whatever approach I want (e.g. RNAV or ILS). Or does it mean to just hand fly the plane in? Can I opt to still use an instrument approach (e.g. RNAV or ILS)?

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"Cleared for the visual" means that you are supposed to fly a visual approach. You are allowed to use whatever navigation aids you want to achieve this, however, you must play by the rules of that visual approach, which means, in general, that you must maintain visual runway contact at all times - you can use an ILS beam to align yourself with the runway, but you may not trust the ILS beam as your primary reference, and upon losing visual contact, you must go around. If you use RNAV waypoint to align yourself with the runway, the same rule holds: you must not use the FMS as your primary navigation reference, you must go around the moment you lose visual contact, and you must make sure that the FMS doesn't fly a path that a pilot hand-flying based on visual cues alone wouldn't fly.

On top of that, many visual approaches come with additional restrictions that you are required to obey, and ILS and other navigation aids may conflict with that. Take for example this approach into LOWI: https://charts.vacc-austria.org/LOWI/LOWI_Approach_Visual Approach_28032019.pdf - there is a localizer available (OEV), but it is offset from the runway threshold, and only intended for the intial portion of an ILS approach; which means that it is practically useless for a visual approach. You can use the localizer to supplement visual cues, but ultimately, the landing must be made visually.

There are also cases where the visual approach, or the visual portion of an RNAV/RNP approach, is substantially different from the ILS approach, and being cleared for the visual does not authorize you to fly the different path that the ILS would have given you. For example, look at LFMN. You might be cleared for the ILS approach for runway 04R, which looks like this: https://www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/dvd/eAIP_10_SEP_2020/FRANCE/AIRAC-2020-09-10/html/eAIP/Cartes/LFMN/AD 2 LFMN IAC RWY04R -ILS LOC.pdf - essentially, a 21-mile DME arc, and then you turn directly onto the localizer course, intercepting whenever it gets into range. But if, instead, you are cleared for the RNP A approach (https://www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/dvd/eAIP_10_SEP_2020/FRANCE/AIRAC-2020-09-10/html/eAIP/Cartes/LFMN/AD 2 LFMN IAC RWY04 FNA RNP A.pdf), then there is absolutely no way you can use the ILS beam in any meaningful way, because you will be intercepting the extended runway centerline one mile before touchdown, way too short to get established, and trying to fly this approach based on instruments will get you in trouble fast - flying the RNAV waypoints down to the MAPT, and then continuing visually, really is your own choice here. Likewise, some airports have visual approaches with a prescribed flight path, and of course you are not authorized to deviate from that path.

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Strictly speaking on a "visual approach" it is up to pilots how they achieve line up with the final approach track. Under normal circumstances you would aim at being fully configured and on an optimum 3 degree vertical path the latest at 1,000ft and 3 NM from the runway threshold. Nobody will stop you from using your autopilot to line up with final approach.

On final you also do what you want: if you prefer to follow an ILS, a VOR radial, a QDM to an NDB, an RNP approach or just fly it visual - do what you deem the safest way to get you down to the runway!

When flying airliners or other planes that have a navigation display, it is good practice to program an extended centerline and then use the runway and the extended centerline on your navigation display to maintain situational awareness. Many real world operators make this a mandatory item to improve safety.

Programming such an extended centerline varies between the different types of FMC and GPS systems. Here's a video of an online flight where you can see the extended centerline being programmed for a Boeing 767-300.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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All that of course still under the condition that you obey the restrictions of the published visual approach.

You can use all the navigation aids you want, but you cannot outright substitute a different approach plate, unless it puts you on a flight path that meets the restrictions of the visual approach you were cleared for.

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2 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

All that of course still under the condition that you obey the restrictions of the published visual approach.

You can use all the navigation aids you want, but you cannot outright substitute a different approach plate, unless it puts you on a flight path that meets the restrictions of the visual approach you were cleared for.

Essentially meaning that if they cleared me for visual approach on runway 8L (for example), I should stick to an approach plate that would keep me on 8L?

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19 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

You can use all the navigation aids you want, but you cannot outright substitute a different approach plate, unless it puts you on a flight path that meets the restrictions of the visual approach you were cleared for.

Say again, I did not understand you.

Let me repeat my previous post: when you are cleared for a "visual approach", then you can maneuver visually as you like. If ATC wants you to follow a certain trajectory, then they have to tell you! When I fly to Nice in the real world, we sometimes ask for and get cleared for a visual approach to runway 04L. In this case, ATC always issues the condition "remain clear of Cape D'Antibes" to make sure that people stay over the sea and do not overfly this peninsula due to noise-restrictions. Apart from this, you can do whatever you want to do, it's a visual approach. This is a completely different thing from the RNP A approach that is followed by prescribed visual manoeuvring tracks to runway 04L - they are mandatory and are to be followed, this is NOT a visual approach.

16 hours ago, Faiz-ur Rahman said:

Essentially meaning that if they cleared me for visual approach on runway 8L (for example), I should stick to an approach plate that would keep me on 8L?

No, you have been cleared for a visual approach to runway 8L and in the absence of any restrictions by ATC or special airport considerations, you can do whatever you like. As mentioned in my previous post, common practice is to be established on final latest at 1,000ft AAL at 3 NM from the runway threshold to satisfy the "stabilized approach criteria". Of course, there are some airports that prescribe in their airport briefing pages that e.g. on a visual approach you have to be on final no later than 5 NM from threshold or similar. Usually this is for noise considerations, an issue that we do not have at VATSIM, luckily.

On a visual approach, using an ILS, VOR, NDB or an extended centerline on your Navdisplay are just aids to help you to 100% identify the runway you are going to, to help you reaching the final approach segment at the correct altitude and speed, to help you with situational awareness. After all, it's a visual manoeuver, separation from terrain and from other traffic is your own responsibility.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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1 minute ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Say again, I did not understand you.

Let me repeat my previous post: when you are cleared for a "visual approach", then you can maneuver visually as you like. If ATC wants you to follow a certain trajectory, then they have to tell you! When I fly to Nice in the real world, we sometimes ask for and get cleared for a visual approach to runway 04L. In this case, ATC always issues the condition "remain clear of Cape D'Antibes" to make sure that people stay over the sea and do not overfly this peninsula due to noise-restrictions. Apart from this, you can do whatever you want to do, it's a visual approach. This is a completely different thing from the RNP A approach that is followed by prescribed visual manoeuvring tracks to runway 04L - they are mandatory and are to be followed, this is NOT a visual approach.

Bad example maybe.

But what about this one:

00058LIGHT_VIS33L.svg

Clearly, this is a visual approach, and equally clearly, it gives specific instructions you have to follow upon being cleared for this approach: maintain R128 inbound BOS until reaching the Boston Lighthouse. You can't do "whatever it takes" until that point, and you cannot fly, for example, this one instead:

00058R33L.svg

So yes, normally you can maneuver visually as you like; but when you're cleared for a specific visual approach that has restrictions, then you have to obey them.

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4 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

Bad example maybe.

But what about this one:

00058LIGHT_VIS33L.svg

Clearly, this is a visual approach, and equally clearly, it gives specific instructions you have to follow upon being cleared for this approach: maintain R128 inbound BOS until reaching the Boston Lighthouse. You can't do "whatever it takes" until that point, and you cannot fly, for example, this one instead:

00058R33L.svg

So yes, normally you can maneuver visually as you like; but when you're cleared for a specific visual approach that has restrictions, then you have to obey them.

 

 

There is a difference between what you have posted, and a visual approach. What you have posted is what is referred to as a CVFP: Charted Visual Flight Procedure. Those are approaches, yes, but as you said, there are pointouts that you need to call in sight, along with instructions on what to do when you are cleared for that specific approach.

That is different than a visual approach.The Light Visual Approach that you posted would require you to point out one or both lighthouses, or Fort Warren to be cleared for that particular approach only. 

For a visual approach, I would either have to call that I have the airport in sight, or traffic that has already been cleared for an approach to the airport, so I could follow that traffic. If I'm 30nm out from KBOS from the northeast, and I report that I have the field in sight, I could be cleared for the visual approach. If I'm flying straight north (360 heading), and I'm asked to report traffic at my 10 o'clock, 4 miles, and it's a B737 who is already on final for runway 27 at KBOS, and I report him in sight, I could be told to follow that traffic and be cleared for the visual approach to runway 27.

Both of those scenarios are independent of any CVFP or any instrument-based approach procedure (RNAV, GPS, VOR, ILS, LOC, etc.).

BL.

 

 

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Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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To keep the discussion a little more beginner-appropriate -- I think one of the key differences between a visual and an instrument approach is how you join the final approach course.  On an ILS, you're going to be put on an intercept for final no greater than 30 degrees different than the final approach course, and far enough out to get well established on the localizer before the glideslope comes down to meet you.  On an RNAV you're typically cleared direct one of the inital fixes, and then you follow the charted lateral path all the way in.

But on a (non-charted, generic) "cleared visual approach," you could be cleared from any position in which you have, and expect to maintain, sight of the runway.  That could be on a more-or-less straight-in or a gentle intercept -- or it could be on an extended base, or even a downwind.  You as the pilot need to have enough experience to know what maneuvers make the most sense from where you are to get to what Andreas described, which is that approximate 3nm / 1000AGL and descending on glideslope scenario.

But you can sure as heck have the ILS tuned as a cross-reference, so that when your eyeballs tell you you're coming up on the centerline and you begin turning to intercept it, you should see your localizer needle confirm this assertion.  Then, a glideslope needle and/or your PAPIs/VASIs and your general spatial and attitude awareness about when to start descending should all kind of be in the same ballpark as one another too (not exact, but, close enough to make sense, with a few notable exceptions).

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr
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Cheers,

-R.

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10 minutes ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

To keep the discussion a little more beginner-appropriate -- I think one of the key differences between a visual and an instrument approach is how you join the final approach course.  On an ILS, you're going to be put on an intercept for final no greater than 30 degrees different than the final approach course, and far enough out to get well established on the localizer before the glideslope comes down to meet you.  On an RNAV you're typically cleared direct one of the inital fixes, and then you follow the charted lateral path all the way in.

But on a (non-charted, generic) "cleared visual approach," you could be cleared from any position in which you have, and expect to maintain, sight of the runway.  That could be on a more-or-less straight-in or a gentle intercept -- or it could be on an extended base, or even a downwind.  You as the pilot need to have enough experience to know what maneuvers make the most sense from where you are to get to what Andreas described, which is that approximate 3nm / 1000AGL and descending on glideslope scenario.

But you can sure as heck have the ILS tuned as a cross-reference, so that when your eyeballs tell you you're coming up on the centerline and you begin turning to intercept it, you should see your localizer needle confirm this assertion.  Then, a glideslope needle and/or your PAPIs/VASIs and your general spatial and attitude awareness about when to start descending should all kind of be in the same ballpark as one another too (not exact, but, close enough to make sense, with a few notable exceptions).

Thanks for breaking that down! As someone who is still getting comfortable with judging the correct angle for the approach, I will pray that controllers give me an instrument approach. 😅

Is it okay to ask them for an instrument approach as a preference? 

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