Tower En Route Control Route Descriptions
The graphic depiction of TEC routes located in the CS is not to be used for navigation or for detailed flight planning because not all city pairs are depicted. The information is intended to show geographic areas connected by TEC. [Figure 2-19] Pilots should refer to the route descriptions for specific flight planning.
As shown in Figure 2-20, the route description contains four columns of information. The first column is the approach control area within which the departure airport is located, which are listed alphabetically. The second column shows the specific route, airway, or radial that is to be used. The third column shows the highest altitude allowed for the route, and the fourth shows the destination airport, which are also listed alphabetically. When flight planning, it is important to always check current publications for information about the departure and destination airport. Routes are effective only during each respective terminal facilities normal operating hours. Always check NOTAMs to ensure that appropriate terminal facilities are operating for the planned flight time. Altitudes are always listed in thousands of feet. ATC may request that the pilot changes altitude while in flight in order to maintain the flight within approach control airspace. ATC provides radar monitoring and, if necessary, course guidance if the highest altitude assigned is below the MEA.
Shown in Figure 2-21, under the second column, the word “Direct” appears as the route when radar vectors are used or no airway exists. This also indicates that a SID or STAR may be assigned by ATC. When a NAVAID or intersection identifier appears with no airway immediately preceding or following the identifier, the routing is understood to be direct to or from that point unless otherwise cleared by ATC. Routes beginning and ending with an airway indicate that the airway essentially overflies the airport, or radar vectors are issued. [Figure 2-21] Where more than one route is listed to the same destination, ensure that the correct route for the type of aircraft classification has been filed. These are denoted after the route in the altitude column using J (jet powered), M (turbo props/special, cruise speed 190 knots or greater), P (non-jet, cruise speed 190 knots or greater), or Q (non-jet, cruise speed 189 knots or less). [Figure 2-22] Although all airports are not listed under the destination column, IFR flights may be planned to satellite airports in the proximity of major airports via the same routing. When filing flight plans, the coded route identifier (i.e., BURL 1, VTUL4, or POML3) may be used in lieu of the route of flight.
Airway and Route System
There are three fixed route systems established for air navigation purposes. They are the Federal airway consisting of VOR (low victor airways, high jet routes), NDB (low or medium frequency) and the RNAV route system. To the extent possible, these route systems are aligned in an overlying manner to facilitate transition between each. The majority of the airways are made up of victor airways, jet routes, and RNAV, but some low/ medium frequency (L/MF) airways and routes are still being used in Alaska and one other that is located off the coast of North Carolina and is called Green 13 (G13). [Figure 2-23]
IFR en route charts show all IFR radio NAVAIDs that have been flight-checked by the FAA and are operational. The FAA, Aeronautical Information Services publishes and distributes U.S. Government Civil Aeronautical Charts and flight information publications. IFR en route navigation information is provided on three charts: IFR en route low altitude chart, IFR en route high altitude chart, and Terminal Area Chart (TAC). [Figure 2-24A and B]
IFR En Route Low Altitude Chart
En route low altitude charts provide aeronautical information for navigation under IFR conditions below 18,000 feet MSL. Low altitude charts [Figure 2-25] include the following information:
- Airways [Figure 2-25A]
- RNAV routes [Figure 2-25B]
- Limits of controlled airspace [Figure 2-25C]
- VHF radio aids to navigation (frequency, identification, channel, geographic coordinates) [Figure 2-25D]
- Airports that have an instrument approach procedure or a minimum 3,000 foot hard surface runway [Figure 2-25E]
- Off-route obstruction clearance altitudes (OROCA) [Figure 2-25F]
- Reporting points [Figure 2-25G]
- Special use airspace areas [Figure 2-25H]
- Military training routes [Figure 2-25I]
IFR aeronautical charts depict VOR airways (airways based on VOR or VORTAC NAVAIDs) in black, identified by a “V” (Victor) followed by the route number (e.g., V12). [Figure 2-26] LF/MF airways (airways based on LF/MF NAVAIDs) are sometimes referred to as colored airways because they are identified by color name and number (e.g., Amber One, charted as A1). Green and red airways are plotted east and west, and amber and blue airways are plotted north and south. Regardless of their color identifier, LF/MF airways are depicted in brown. [Figure 2-27]
Airway/route data, such as the airway identifications, bearings or radials, mileages, and altitude (e.g., MEA), minimum obstacle clearance altitude (MOCA), and MAA, are shown aligned with the airway and in the same color as the airway. [Figure 2-26]
All airways/routes that are predicated on VOR or VORTAC NAVAIDs are defined by the outbound radial from the NAVAID. Airways/routes that are predicated on LF/MF NAVAIDs are defined by the inbound bearing.
New low altitude RNAV routes have been created by the FAA. RNAV routes provide more direct routing for IFR aircraft and enhance the safety and efficiency of the NAS. In order to utilize these routes, aircraft must be equipped with IFR approved GNSS. In Alaska, when using RNAV routes, the aircraft must be equipped with Technical Standing Order (TSO)-145a and 146a equipment.
Low altitude RNAV only routes are identified by the letter “T” prefix, followed by a three digit number (T-200 to T-500). RNAV routes are depicted in aeronautical blue, as well as the RNAV route data, which includes the following [Figure 2-28]:
- Route line
- Identification boxes
- Waypoint names
- Magnetic reference bearings
Magnetic reference bearings are shown originating from a waypoint, fix/reporting point, or NAVAID. A GNSS MEA for each segment is established to ensure obstacle clearance and communications reception. All MEAs are identified with a “G” suffix. [Figure 2-29]
Joint Victor/RNAV routes are depicted using black for the victor airways and blue for the RNAV routes, and the identification boxes for each are shown adjacent to one another. Magnetic reference bearings are not shown. MEAs are stacked in pairs or in two separate columns, GNSS and Victor. On joint routes, or victor routes, RNAV specific information is printed in blue. [Figure 2-30]