Thursday, October 02, 2008

Charting a New Course



The new Northern California T-routes I wrote about a while back in April now appear on the NACO and Jeppesen IFR en route charts. For some pilots, this should be a welcome relief. Here's an email I received a while back:
I frequently fly IFR from S50 to KRHV. Just before SAC, they amend my filed plan (... V23 SAC V334 SUNOL) to "... depart SAC at hdg 157 and intercept the ECA 215 radial, then fly hdg 215 to CEDES". The first time they gave me this clearance, it was a curve ball, I got off GPS mode and navigated to CEDES using VORs (I could have used OBS, but didn’t bother). However, upon closer inspection, I realized that all they did was send me to MOVDD, then CEDES. So I wonder why they simply don’t clear me "... direct MOVDD direct CEDES". In the 3 times I have flown this route IFR, every single time, I got this funky clearance.

Assuming controllers have been briefed on T-routes and assuming they can determine when an aircraft is equipped for en route RNAV, this reader's amended clearance should simply be "cleared Sacramento, Tango 259, CEDES ..."

At least one ZSE controller told me a few months ago that they had not been trained on the use of T-routes and, at that time, were not assigning them in clearances even if specifically requested by pilots to do so. There are a bunch of aircraft out there equipped to fly T-routes and we can only hope the FAA will work out the training and procedural side of things.

6 comments:

Colin Summers said...

Okay, at KSBA at the end of August I was getting my clearance to depart to the south toward KSMO. Just VFR. Clearance delivery asked, "Do you have the November routes?" I had NO idea what they were talking about, so I said, "Negative." They then read me the clearance.

What is a November route?

John said...

Colin,

Good question. I did some research and can't find any reference to an N-route. I'm suspecting the controller was referring to noise abatement routings for VFR aircraft, but that's just a guess.

Perhaps a pilot from KSBA or a controller from Santa Barbara TRACON out there can offer some insight?

Malibu said...

pColin and John,

In So. Cal, Tower Enroute Control(TEC) routes are used almost exclusively for flights within the SO. Cal area. Look at your AFD to find the route You need only look up the airport of departure and your destination airport for your type of airplane, jet or prop and you will see the route you will be expected to fly. Very easy.

Assuming you are fling a prop (cruise speed <189knots) you would expect SBAN12 ("November 12") KWANG CMA VNY V186 DARTS to get you from SBA to SMO

Every so often these routes get updated and when they do, the identifier letter will change. Currently, they are "N" November routes.

John said...

Malibu,

I'm familiar with the Socal TEC routes in the A/FD. Though there are no such routes for Northern California, I've used the Socal TEC routings on several occasions. I'd never heard of them referred to as November routes, I usually just heard "Cleared as filed." Thanks for enlightening us!

This still begs the question why a controller would ask Colin if he had "the November routes" when he was departing VFR ...

BTW, I once asked a supervisor at Bay Approach (before the Norcal TRACON was created) why there were no TEC routes for Northern California. His terse response was "It's not a priority ..."

Malibu said...

John,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that a clearance is strictly an IFR animal. The fact that Colin was read a clearance leads me to believe that the controller didn't understand that Colin wanted VFR, presumably VFR flight following.

Your understanding is correct that TEC routes are IFR routes. A So. Cal. pilot is free to roll his own VFR route, subject to the many classes of airspace in So. Cal.

I'm surprised that more TEC routes haven't sprung up. They are easy to use, predictable for both the pilot and controller and would seem to reduce work load all the way around.

mocoibohapu said...

I've been flying daily at Sba for years. It is an Air Traffic Control training facility and mistakes are made! I wouldn't be the least bit surprised that a controller was confused about a flight's VFR/IFR status. Controllers usually know more than we do (they work at their "home" field every day, all day--we go to lots of different places), but don't count on it (especially at Sba)