Top

Standard Terminal Arrival

Introduction:

  • Standard Terminal Arrivals (STARs) provide a transition from the en-route structure to an outer fix or an instrument approach fix/arrival waypoint in the terminal area to simplify clearance delivery procedures
  • A STAR is an ATC coded IFR arrival route established for application to arriving IFR aircraft a certain airports, published for pilot use in a graphical [Figure 3] and/or textual [Figure 4] form
    • RNAV STAR/FMSP procedures for arrivals serve the same purpose but are only used by aircraft equipped with FMS or GPS
  • They can be found inside the instrument approach plates, and online at http://aeronav.faa.gov/index.asp?xml=aeronav/applications/d_tpp by searching the terminal procedures for the airport you are operating out of and listed alphabetically
Standard Terminal Arrival Publication
Figure 1: Standard Terminal Arrival Publication

Publication:

  • STARS are published in a kneeboard sized handbook [Figure 1]
  • The Terminal Procedures Publication (IAP) Change Notice is published to add any new or update any revised Instrument Approach Procedures (IAPs) to the TPPs during the second half of the 56 day airspace cycle
  • There is no Change Notice effective during the first 28 days of the Airspace Cycle

Restrictions:

  • STARS may have mandatory speeds and/or crossing altitudes published
  • Additionally, STARs may have planning information depicted to inform pilots what clearances or restrictions to "expect"
    • "Expect" altitudes/speeds are not considered STAR procedures crossing restrictions unless verbally issued by ATC, and are for planning purposes only
    • These altitudes/speeds must not be used in the event of lost communications unless ATC has specifically advised the pilot to expect these altitudes/speeds as part of a further clearance
      • Reference 14 CFR Section 91.185(c)(2)(iii)
  • Speed Restrictions:

    • Published speed restrictions are independent of altitude restrictions and are mandatory unless modified by ATC
      • Pilots should plan to cross waypoints with a published speed restriction, at the published speed, and should not exceed this speed past the associated waypoint unless authorized by ATC or a published note to do so
  • Altitude Restrictions:

    • Pilots navigating on STAR procedures must maintain last assigned altitude until receiving authorization to descend so as to comply with all published/issued restrictions
    • The phrase: "Descend VIA" authorizes the pilot to:
      • Descend at pilot’s discretion to meet published restrictions and laterally navigate on a STAR
      • When cleared to a waypoint depicted on a STAR, to descend from a previously assigned altitude at pilot’s discretion to the altitude depicted at that waypoint, and;
      • Once established on the depicted arrival, to descend and to meet all published or assigned altitude and/or speed restrictions
    • NOTE-1: When otherwise cleared along a route or procedure that contains published speed restrictions, the pilot must comply with those speed restrictions independent of any descend via clearance
    • NOTE-2: ATC anticipates pilots will begin adjusting speed the minimum distance necessary prior to a published speed restriction so as to cross the waypoint/fix at the published speed. Once at the published speed, ATC expects pilots will maintain the published speed until additional adjustment is required to comply with further published or ATC assigned speed restrictions or as required to ensure compliance with 14 CFR Section 91.117
    • The "descend via" is used in conjunction with STARs to reduce phraseology by not requiring the controller to restate the altitude at the next waypoint/fix to which the pilot has been cleared
    • Air traffic will assign an altitude to cross the waypoint/fix, if no altitude is depicted at the waypoint/fix, for aircraft on a direct routing to a STAR
      • Air traffic must ensure obstacle clearance when issuing a "descend via" instruction to the pilot
    • Minimum en route altitudes (MEA) are not considered restrictions; however, pilots must remain above all MEAs, unless receiving an ATC instruction to descend below the MEA

Clearances:

  • Lateral/routing only:

    • Pilots are cleared to fly the lateral path of the procedure
    • Compliance with any published speed restrictions is required
    • No descent is authorized
      • Example: "Cleared Tyler One arrival"
  • Routing with assigned altitude:

    • "Cleared Tyler One arrival, descend and maintain flight level two four zero"
      • The pilot must descend to FL 240 as directed, comply with any published speed restrictions, and maintain FL 240 until cleared for further vertical navigation with a newly assigned altitude or a “descend via” clearance
    • "Cleared Tyler One arrival, descend at pilot’s discretion, maintain flight level two four zero"
      • The pilot is authorized to descend to FL 240 at his discretion, to comply with any published speed restrictions, and then maintain FL 240 until issued further instructions
  • Lateral/routing and Vertical Navigation:

    • "Descend via the Eagul Five arrival"
      • The pilot is authorized to descend at pilot’s discretion on the Eagul Five arrival; the pilot must descend so as to comply with all published altitude and speed restrictions
    • "Descend via the Eagul Five arrival, except, cross Vnnom at or above one two thousand"
      • The pilot is again authorized to descend at pilot's discretion on the Eagul Five arrival, but requires the pilot to cross Vnnom at or above 12,000
  • Lateral/routing and vertical navigation clearance when assigned altitude not published on procedure:

    • "Descend via the Eagul Five arrival, except after Geeno, maintain one zero thousand"
      • The pilot is authorized to track laterally on the Eagul Five Arrival and to descend at pilot’s discretion so as to comply with all altitude and speed restrictions until reaching Geeno and then maintain 10,000
      • Upon reaching 10,000, aircraft should maintain 10,000 until cleared by ATC to continue to descend
    • "Descend via the Eagul Five arrival, except cross Geeno at one one thousand then maintain seven thousand"
      • The pilot is again authorized to track laterially on the Eagul Five Arrival and to descend at pilot’s discretion so as to comply with all altitude and speed restrictions until reaching Geeno and then maintain 10,000, except the aircraft must cross Geeno at 11,000 and is then authorized to continue descent to and maintain 7,000
  • Direct routing to intercept a STAR and vertical navigation clearance:

    • "Proceed direct Leoni, descend via the Leoni One arrival"
      • in the first clearance an altitude is published at Leoni; the aircraft proceeds to Leoni, crosses Leoni at the published altitude and then descends via the arrival. If a speed restrictions is published at Leoni, the aircraft will slow to comply with the published speed
    • "Proceed direct Denis, cross Denis at or above flight level two zero zero, then descend via the Mmell One arrival"
      • In the second clearance, there is no altitude published at Denis; the aircraft must cross Denis at or above FL200, and then descends via the arrival
  • Pilots cleared for vertical navigation using the phraseology “descend via” must inform ATC upon initial contact with a new frequency, of the altitude leaving, “descending via (procedure name),” the runway transition or landing direction if assigned, and any assigned restrictions not published on the procedure
    • Example 1. Delta 121 is cleared to descend via the Eagul Five arrival, runway 26 transition: “Delta One Twenty One leaving flight level one niner zero, descending via the Eagul Five arrival runway two-six transition"
    • Example 2. Delta 121 is cleared to descend via the Eagul Five arrival, but ATC has changed the bottom altitude to 12,000: “Delta One Twenty One leaving flight level one niner zero for one two thousand, descending via the Eagul Five arrival, runway two-six transition"
    • Example 3. (JetBlue 602 is cleared to descend via the Ivane Two arrival, landing south): “JetBlue six zero two leaving flight level two one zero descending via the Ivane Two arrival landing south"
  • Pilots of IFR aircraft destined to locations for which STARs have been published may be issued a clearance containing a STAR whenever ATC deems it appropriate
  • Use of STARs requires pilot possession of at least the approved chart. RNAV STARs must be retrievable by the procedure name from the aircraft database and conform to charted procedure. As with any ATC clearance or portion thereof, it is the responsibility of each pilot to accept or refuse an issued STAR. Pilots should notify ATC if they do not wish to use a STAR by placing “NO STAR” in the remarks section of the flight plan or by the less desirable method of verbally stating the same to ATC
  • STAR charts are published in the Terminal Procedures Publications (TPP) and are available on subscription from the National Aeronautical Charting Office

  • Some of the "preferred routes" in the A/P-1/A and Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD) contain STARs
  • Use of STARs requires pilot possession of at least the approved textual description
  • It is the pilots responsibility to accept or refuse an issued STAR
    • If a pilot does not wish to play, in a busy environment especially, expect possible holding delays

Flight Plans:

  • Pilots should notify ATC if they do not wish to use a STAR by placing "NO STAR" in the remarks section of the flight plan or stating to ATC
    • If the controller is busy, the pilot might be cleared along the same route and, if necessary, the controller has the pilot copy the entire text of the procedure
  • Ultimately you are only requesting no STARs which means the controller may still assign one depending on traffic requirements
    • Always, always, always carry current publications with you for all airports or alternate airports on your route of flight

STAR Chart legend Goofy Five Arrival Standard Terminal Arrivals
Figure 2: STAR Legend
Figure 3: Visual Depicted STAR
Figure 4: Textual STAR

RNAV STAR:

  • All public RNAV STARs are RNAV1
  • These procedures require system performance currently met by GPS or DME/DME/IRU RNAV systems that satisfy the criteria discussed in AC 90-100A, U.S. Terminal and En Route Area Navigation (RNAV) Operations
  • RNAV1 procedures require the aircraft's total system error remain bounded by +1 NM for 95% of the total flight time
  • For procedures requiring GPS, if the navigation system does not automatically alert the flight crew of a loss of GPS, the operator must develop procedures to verify correct GPS operation

Local Flow Traffic Management Program:

  • The local flow traffic management program is a continuing effort by the FAA to enhance safety, minimize the impact of aircraft noise and conserve aviation fuel
    • The enhancement of safety and reduction of noise is achieved in this program by minimizing low altitude maneuvering of arriving turbojet and turboprop aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds and, by permitting departure aircraft to climb to higher altitudes sooner, as arrivals are operating at higher altitudes at the points where their flight paths cross
    • The application of these procedures also reduces exposure time between controlled aircraft and uncontrolled aircraft at the lower altitudes in and around the terminal environment
    • Fuel conservation is accomplished by absorbing any necessary arrival delays for aircraft included in this program operating at the higher and more fuel efficient altitudes
  • A fuel efficient descent is basically an uninterrupted descent (except where level flight is required for speed adjustment) from cruising altitude to the point when level flight is necessary for the pilot to stabilize the aircraft on final approach
    • The procedure for a fuel efficient descent is based on an altitude loss which is most efficient for the majority of aircraft being served
    • This will generally result in a descent gradient window of 250−350 feet per nautical mile
  • When crossing altitudes and speed restrictions are issued verbally or are depicted on a chart, ATC will expect the pilot to descend first to the crossing altitude and then reduce speed
    • Verbal clearances for descent will normally permit an uninterrupted descent in accordance with the procedure as described above
    • Acceptance of a charted fuel efficient descent (Runway Profile Descent) clearance requires the pilot to adhere to the altitudes, speeds, and headings depicted on the charts unless otherwise instructed by ATC
    • PILOTS RECEIVING A CLEARANCE FOR A FUEL EFFICIENT DESCENT ARE EXPECTED TO ADVISE ATC IF THEY DO NOT HAVE RUNWAY PROFILE DESCENT CHARTS PUBLISHED FOR THAT AIRPORT OR ARE UNABLE TO COMPLY WITH THE CLEARANCE

Conclusion:

  • Pilots of IFR aircraft destined to locations for which STARs have been published may be issued a clearance containing a STAR whenever ATC deems it appropriate
  • Use of STARs requires pilot possession of at least the approved chart
  • RNAV STARs must be retrievable by the procedure name from the aircraft database and conform to charted procedure
    • As with any ATC clearance or portion thereof, it is the responsibility of each pilot to accept or refuse an issued STAR
  • STAR charts are published in the Terminal Procedures Publications (TPP) and are available on subscription from the National Aeronautical Charting Office or they may be printed off websites such as Airnav.com

References: