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Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2001 8:11 am


Mon Feb 03, 2003 6:39 am

Aside from the SID and STAR, does most commercial turbojet traffic within the US follow "jet airways" aka "high altitude airways," or are flights sometimes allowed to fly direct using GPS or other navagational aids?
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Routings

Mon Feb 03, 2003 9:59 am

Many flights ask for and receive direct routings in the enroute environment. Many are also planned that way to begin with to take advantage of the best winds. One still has to use DPs and STARs in the terminal area.

Between some busier city-pairs, FAA publishes (and expects you to file/fly) "preferred" routes. Many of those use J-routes, but controllers will still offer "direct" if they can on a tactical basis.

If the aicraft is an older "/A" type (no FMC, just VOR equipped), you can still get "direct" but it may not happen as often since you are only going direct between navaids a certain distance apart, and not points-in-space or other navaids much further away...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.

RE: Routings

Mon Feb 03, 2003 12:01 pm

What OPNLguy stated is correct; but, whenever possible. most pilots prefer to get direct routings - it saves time and fuel. With the advent of long range nav systems it is the norm, at least here in the U.S. and Canada to get direct clearances nearly everywhere.

Here's how it's typically done. We will file a latitude/longitude fix which correspondes directly to the airport; or to a fix on a STAR; or to a an appropriate arrival gate for where ever it is that we happen to be going. For example, I am based in Oregon and we frequently fly to Teterboro, NJ. We simply file "lat/long direct" to the Wilkes Barre VOR (LVZ) then via the Wilkes Barre 3 arrival to TEB. We get that routing every time. The key is that we typically operate above FL370 eastbound, usually FL410 or FL 450 and FL390 or FL430 westbound. ATC is very accommodating when it comes to direct routings when you're operating at FL370 or higher. Going eastbound, on a leg of any distance, our altitude of choice would be FL410 initially, then FL450 after a couple of hours or so. At those altitudes, you seldom have to talk to anyone except, of course, for handoffs. (We've had these higher flight levels pretty much to ourselves until fairly recently, but now we're starting to see more and more air carriers up there.) There are still quite a few airliners that do not have RNAV equipment. Those aircraft are forced to fly the airways, unless of course ATC is willing to offer them vectors - which they often do. Most air carrier aircraft spend the majority of their time below FL370. This is still the most crowded airspace and, even with RNAV capability, direct routings below FL370 often involve a lot of vectors.

In the US, as long as you can get to FL370 or higher or stay below FL240 you can pretty much file direct to any two points. There are some caveats though. You've got to avoid active restricted areas and MOAs and there are areas where you will be given specific routings to specific arrival and/or departure gates and/or SIDs and/or STARS. In our operation we routinely fly coast to coast and border to border on a weekly basis. We are on direct routes 90% to 95%. In the mid and western US, it's common for direct airport to airport clearances. On either coast or from any of the major cities you usually won't be given a "direct to" clearance until you've passed one of those fixes or climbed to FL370 or above. Then it's back to business as usual.

Departures from the east coast corridor airports westbound are slightly more involved, but not really. You will still get all of the typically convoluted routings, but once you get above FL370 they will normally reclear you direct to destination. It's just a matter of keeping the climb up. As far as altitudes go, westbound we typically file for FL390 and climb to FL430 as soon as we are able.

Topic Author
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Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2001 8:11 am

RE: Routings

Mon Feb 03, 2003 6:25 pm

Thanks, Jetguy and OPNLguy for the insights!

I sometimes like to look at the routings of flights at, and I've always wondered how "accurate" they were.

RE: Routings

Thu Feb 13, 2003 5:14 am

As a ex-dispatcher I can say that the routing depend by the place and by the time.
Time means that if I have to flight at 1 p.m. probably I have to file using DP jet-routes and STAR.

I remember a ferry flight at night from ORD to DEN we have used last point of DP direct to the transition point of the STAR.

Place means: that in some places such as the European terminal areas you can not fly direct. Or the controller modify the flight plan when you are on flight.

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