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Military Training Routes

Introduction:

  • The Military Training Route (MTR) Program is a joint venture by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense (DOD), developed for use by military aircraft to gain and maintain proficiency in tactical "low level" flying
  • These low-level training routes are generally established below 10,000' Mean Sea Level (MSL) for speeds in excess of 250 knots to accommodate both Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)
    • Route segments however, may be defined at higher altitudes for purposes of route continuity during descent, climb-out, and mountainous terrain, etc.
  • Routes are identified and charted with a series of letters and numbers to quickly identify route characteristics
  • In order to safely integrate, pilots utilizing MTRs are held to strict standards during the conduct of the route as published in the Flight Information Publications (FLIP)
Military Training Routes
Figure 1: Military Training Routes (MTRs)

Route Information:

  • Visual Routes (VR):

    • VR, or VFR routes, are designed to be flown at 1,500' AGL and below
    • Conducted under VFR, except when flight visibility must be 5 Statute Miles or more and flights shall not be conducted below a ceiling of less than 3,000' AGL
    • Pilots departing on IFR clearances to fly VRs are required to file to the fix/radial/distance of entry
    • Pilots transitioning to IFR, upon exiting a VR, are required to have on file a previously filed IFR flight plan from the appropriate fix/radial/distance of their point
    • For VR routes, the nearest flight service station will be notified (255.4 megahertz (MHz)) by the pilot upon entering the route with entry time, number/type aircraft, exit fix, and estimated exit time
    • Pilots of aircraft operating on a VR route will adjust their transponder to code 4000, unless otherwise assigned by ATC
  • Instrument Routes (IR):

    • IR, or IFR routes, are designed to be flown above 1,500' Above Ground Level (AGL)
    • Conducted in accordance with IFR regardless of weather conditions
    • Require a specific Air Traffic Control (ATC) entry clearance prior to entering
    • Pilots shall be responsible for obtaining an IFR ATC exit clearance prior to exiting an IR route
Military Training Routes
Figure 2: Area Navigation Chart
MTRs Depiction
  • Specific route information is contained in the Department of Defense (DOD) Flight Information Publication (FLIP) AP/1B along with additional MTR (slow routes/air refueling routes) information, or through the 56 Day National Airspace Systems Resources (NASR) Subscription from the National Flight Data Center (NFDC)
    • MTRs for particular chart pairs (ex. L1/2, etc.) are alphabetically, then numerically tabulated
    • The tabulation includes MTR type and unique identification and altitude range
  • Route width varies for each MTR and can vary in width from 4 to 16 miles on either side of the charted MTR centerline
    • Route segments with a width of 5 Nautical Mile (NM) or less, both sides of the centerline, are shown by a .02" line
    • Route segments with a width greater than 5 NM, either or both sides of the centerline, are shown by a .035" line
Military Training Routes
Figure 3: VFR Navigation Chart
MTRs Depiction
  • A thorough review of FLIP AP/1B, temporary route advisories, Chart Updating Manual (CHUM), and Chart Updating Manual Supplement (CHUMSUPP) is essential to ensure flight safety and maximum training from each sortie

Route Identification:

  • MTRs are identified by their flight rules and segment altitudes associated with arrows that indicate the direction of flight along the route
  • Routes numbered 001 to 099 are shown as IR1 or VR99, eliminating the initial zeros
  • MTRs with no segment above 1,500' AGL shall be identified by four number characters (IR1206/VR1207)
  • MTRs that include one or more segments above 1,500' AGL shall be identified with three number characters (IR206/VR207)
  • Alternate IR/VR routes or route segments are identified by using the basic/principal route designation followed by a letter suffix, e.g., IR008A, VR1007B, etc.

Military Training Routes
Figure 4: IFR Enroute Chart MTRs Depiction

Route Charting:

  • IFR Enroute Low Altitude Chart:
    • This chart will depict the centerline of all IR routes and all VR routes that accommodate operations above 1,500' Above Ground Level (AGL)
    • MTRs are not shown on inset charts or on IFR Enroute High Altitude Charts
  • VFR Sectional Aeronautical Charts/Terminal Area Chart:
    • These charts will depict MTR centerlines in black
  • Area Planning (AP/1B) Chart (DOD Flight Information Publication):
    • This chart is published by the National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) primarily for military users and contains detailed information on both IR and VR routes
  • The designator IR or VR is not repeated when two or more routes are established over the same airspace
    • Example: IR201-205-227
  • Alternate IR/VR routes or route segments are identified by using the basic/principal route designation followed by a letter suffix
    • Example: IR008A, VR1007B

Sectional Charts
Figure 5: Sectional Charts

Military Training Route Conduct:

  • Pilots shall familiarize themselves with the route and are responsible for remaining within the route's structure
    • If the aircraft departs the defined route, by exit or upon completion, FAR 91.117d (maximum speed) applies
    • Caution is advised when climbing above the MTR structure as this may place aircraft in close proximity to airway traffic
  • Operations will be conducted at the minimum speed required to accomplish the mission
  • Unless otherwise delineated in an MTR special operating procedure, aircrew shall avoid charted, uncontrolled airports by 3 NM laterally or 1,500' AGL vertically
  • Note the avoidance criteria for airfields and the need to remain clear of published noise-sensitive areas
  • Aircrew shall avoid Class Bravo, Charlie and Delta airspace
  • Aircrew shall minimize disturbance to persons/property on the ground
  • All route entries shall be accomplished at published entry/alternate entry points only
  • All route exits shall be accomplished at published exit/alternate exit points only

Flight Information Publications:

Military Training Explanation
Figure 6: Military Training Sectional Explanation
  • The FLIP contains charts and narrative descriptions of these routes
  • This publication is available to the general public by contacting:
    • Defense Logistics Agency for Aviation
    • Mapping Customer Operations (DLA AVN/QAM)
    • 8000 Jefferson Davis Highway
    • Richmond, VA 23297-5339
    • Toll free phone: 1-800-826-0342
    • Commercial: 804-279-6500
  • This DOD FLIP is available for pilot briefings at FSS and many airports
  • Information available includes times of scheduled activity, altitudes in use on each route segment, and actual route width
  • Route width information for IR and VR MTRs is also available in the FLIP AP/1B along with additional MTR (slow routes/air refueling routes) information
  • For the latest information regarding publication availability visit the NGA Web site:

Case Studies:

  • NTSB Identification: MIA01FA028B The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The failure of the F-16 flight lead pilot and F-16 accident pilot to maintain an adequate visual lookout while maneuvering. Factors contributing to the accident were: the F-16 flight lead pilot's decision to discontinue radar traffic advisory service, the F-16 flight lead pilot's failure to identify a position error in his aircraft's navigational system, the F-16 pilots subsequent inadvertent entry into class C airspace without establishing and maintaining required communications with air traffic control (ATC); and ATC's lack of awareness that there was more than one F-16 aircraft in the formation flight, which reduced the ATC controllers ability to detect and resolve the conflict that resulted in the collision

Conclusion:

  • National security depends largely on the deterrent effect of our airborne military forces
  • To be proficient, the military services must train in a wide range of airborne tactics
  • MTRs require maneuvers and speeds which occasionally make the see-and-avoid aspect of flight more difficult, requiring increased vigilance
  • Nonparticipating aircraft are not prohibited from flying within an MTR; however, extreme vigilance should be exercised when conducting flight through or near these routes
  • When requesting MTR information, pilots should contact a Flight Service Station (FSS) with their position, route of flight, and destination in order to reduce frequency congestion and permit the FSS specialist to identify the MTR which could be a factor
    • If concerned with a particular route, pilots should contact FSS within 100 NM of that MTR to obtain current information or route usage in their vicinity

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