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Re: VATSIM - arrival runway question

For the most part, you don't need to file a STAR nor SID. Simple answer.

Even if you do know the runway in use, it could easily change while enroute. We flip the boat all the time to suit the current meteorological conditions. Any number of unforeseen errors could crop up to make your route unfeasible. The NAVAID you need to use could break while you are on the way, a TFR could appear that prohibits your transit on that specific routing, or more likely... traffic could preclude your routing and require you to be given vectors and altitudes manually.

So, you *CAN* file the STAR/SID that you prefer but should be ready to reprogram if you are given an amended clearance. All of the flight plan amending will happen on the controller side and should not worry you one bit. Once you've filed what you want, your job is done. Any changes thenceforth will be handled behind the scenes and delivered to you verbally via an amended clearance.

Normally, your attention should be drawn to a change by way of specific phraseology... such as.

"Cleared as filed, except change x to y"


"Cleared via Y, rest of route remains as filed"


"Cleared via A, B, C, ... U, V, W, Y, Z" (full route clearance with the change being present)

The simplest solution is for pilots to file point-to-point while omitting specific RNAV portions like SIDs and STARs, because you know that you don't know it. Just file the NAVAIDS and airways you want to use.

ATC will assign it to you, if needed, and then place the appropriate portion into your flight plan as necessary. They may even omit it all together if the entire portion is contained locally within their airspace... the flight plans just help to communicate specifics to adjacent sectors, so if that change has no impact on the next controller... I can just remember what I gave you.

At the end of the day, it isn't your concern but I find it admirable that you are trying to get to the bottom of it. ATC is vigilant for these things, we are experts on our local area and we assume that you are not. You file a wrong/unsafe altitude? We fix it. You file a stupid/inefficient route? We fix it.

No pilot in the world could possibly know the traffic flow for every location on this earth, there are too many variables and things are always changing.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Best of luck. I wish you smooth air and soft landings. o7

Re: VATSIM - arrival runway question

Dark Kitty wrote:If there are any VATSIM pilots here can anyone tell me how you’re supposed to file a flight plan with the correct STAR when you don’t even know which runway you’ll be landing in as the departure airport is probably out of range of the destination ATIS? Thanks

Just summoning you for the answer above, since you posted this a while ago. Just now seeing it after somebody bumped.

Now... assuming you really want to indicate a preference but can't get the ATIS. Just use something like...


You can put your departure and arrival airport into the flight plan tool and it will generate a route for you. The route will normally include the applicable SID/STAR that will work best for your direction of travel. You can also hover over your destination with a mouse and it will bring up the current METAR, then you can use that to infer the runway in use. Then you can make a pretty good guess as to which STAR is being run into the airport. Normally STARs are more about your direction of approach rather than your landing surface. Most STARs will route to multiple landing surfaces and will diverge at some point within the terminal environment to set up for instrument approaches to different pieces of asphalt. In that case, you find out which branch to take when you make initial contact with your terminal radar approach controller. Something like...

"AAL387, Anchorage approach, confirm ATIS hotel, expect ILS runway 7R"

or, if the STAR actually joins the instrument portions and your sequence is already mapped out... you may just get a straight up clearance for the approach even tho you are still 60 miles away.

"AAL387, Anchorage approach ,cleared ILS runway 7R approach"

AAL387 could be way out still descending from the flight levels... but if he is on the NEELL6 arrival... then the method works... you would just continue to descend via the NEELL6 until it connects with the localizer for 7R and then commence the approach.

Just... again... don't be married to the route you file. It is not your fault if ATC needs to change it, it is part of our job and is a very basic task for us to accomplish. You're not really hurting anything by filing a SID/STAR that gets changed later.

Going back to the NEELL6 example, if traffic is in the way... I would not clear you... I may wait until I move some other players around to ensure your spot in line... or I may take you off altogether. Such as....

"AAL387, Anchorage approach, confirm ATIS hotel, fly heading 070, maintain 4000; vectors for sequence"

If you are ever issued a vector off of a STAR, you should also be given an altitude to maintain. You should also be told if you can expect to rejoin the arrival route at a later segment. I might just dog leg you off of it and slow you down to create space and then have you rejoin the arrival on an intercept heading... if that is my intent, I need to convey that to you so that you don't clear out your FMS and have to scramble to get it put back in.

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