Filing Direct or via navaids?

Benchracer52

Newcomer
Aug 1, 2010
2
0
1
Newly minted Commercial pilot here that is trying to learn the system and am getting very confusing info from flight instructors and examiners.

To skip all of that and get right down to the basics.

Assuming I have a GPS on board - do you guys prefere I file direct and you guys handle it from there or do you prefere I file the entire route via intersections, VORs and airways??

I will gladly go into detail of my experiances leading up to this question but did not want to bore you with the details on my first post.
 

ATC HD

Junior Member
Jun 15, 2008
130
0
16
Raleigh, north carolina
Re: Question for you guys.

Newly minted Commercial pilot here that is trying to learn the system and am getting very confusing info from flight instructors and examiners.

To skip all of that and get right down to the basics.

Assuming I have a GPS on board - do you guys prefere I file direct and you guys handle it from there or do you prefere I file the entire route via intersections, VORs and airways??

I will gladly go into detail of my experiances leading up to this question but did not want to bore you with the details on my first post.
I'd prefer you file direct if you have a GPS. If for some reason, say you're going to fly through ATL's class B and they need to route you around it, we'll make sure you get the re-route. I'm at a level 7 and it's usually not a problem. Some of the bigger places may have a different answer.

HD
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
991
7
18
Direct works well for us. If you can't go direct due to airspace configurations, our flight data computer will often insert the preferential routing onto your flight plan and we'll issue it when we talk to you. For known problem airports near our airspace, we simply memorize which routings could cause a problem and we know ourselves how to re-route you. If it's a destination far enough away that we're not familiar with it, then we expect a controller further down the line will issue you amended routings.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
561
0
16
Arizona
I think you should do a little planning and file direct for areas that make sense and not direct for other areas. If there's SUA, for example, that you know from experience that you can't get through regularly, file around it. Ask for direct once airborne if it seems sensible. In other words, do your part.
 

Benchracer52

Newcomer
Aug 1, 2010
2
0
1
I think you should do a little planning and file direct for areas that make sense and not direct for other areas. If there's SUA, for example, that you know from experience that you can't get through regularly, file around it. Ask for direct once airborne if it seems sensible. In other words, do your part.
Thanks to all of you for your responses. This answer is how I have been handling it.

My goal is always to plan ahead and get the "cleared as filed" clearance.
 

center_greenhorn

You send em ill blend em
Jan 23, 2009
34
0
6
I have flown GA aircraft to just about every state in the country and am now a center controller. My general rule of thumb is if your between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rockies, file direct. There might be areas of limited radar coverage that the controller might have to put you on a non radar route (ie over a ground based nav within limitations).

Over the Rockies I file airways, especially in the winter so if i get caught in ice I can get low as possible if that's my escape route, just added safety.

East and West coast, it depends. First I look at FLTPLAN.COM and see what routes have been issued to like type aircraft, they will give you a list of options. If there is no defined route, I file Direct and have a pen ready to copy because its not going to be direct in the clearance.

Every facility has Letters of Agreements that have to be followed and standard operating procedures, they are not published (Pref routes are published in the AFD but generally for Jets) so its hard to determine what they'll give you. So why waste your time planning a complex flight plan just to have the controller give you something different. Just remember to have extra fuel in case you get a DP or STAR.

This method has worked very well for me and it is what I teach to my flight students. Just always be ready to copy a new route and fuel plan for the worst case scenario.
 

PorkBarrel

Rookie
Nov 21, 2008
35
0
6
I would file direct and see what we issue you on Clearance Delivery, and this is based on our computer flight data that spits out a PDR (Preferential Departure Route). If it's a destination you will routinely fly to, have your company refile the way that ATC cleared you last time. Of course, routes can change daily based on weather, flow programs to airports and/or airspace, but see what ATC assigns when most flying conditions are normal and good. I don't understand why some daily routine flights never change what they file based on previous PDRs. It would be easier for us to say "Cleared as filed," as there would be less of a chance of a pilot not understanding a route, disliking it and requesting a change, or missing a readback. Hope that helps.
 

The Shadow

Rookie
Jul 2, 2008
38
0
6
Right of center
There's a million answers to this question. It depends alot to do with the part of the country you're flying through and the altitude. On the west coast you can get direct and any high altitude you want all day long... but if you file a flightplan in conflict with terrain or military airspace we'll just send you back to flight service to file a proper flightplan.
 

ZMAOceanVM

Newcomer
Aug 13, 2010
12
0
1
Boerne, TX
I'm sure the ZDC, ZNY, ZOB guys would agree... File an airway and we'll figure out your direct. Sometimes the bends on the airways are there for a reason. Helps the controller from sending you into active military airspace, helps you by preventing something bad from happening.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
561
0
16
Arizona
To aid smaller facilities that do not have a lot of automation, it is helpful to put enough routing information on the flight plan to identify the initial transition into the enroute environment for flights that travel extended distances to possibly unfamiliar airports (to the initial controller). After that, file direct if you want.

Otherwise what happens is the clearance delivery dude starts pulling out maps and pubs to figure out where you are going so they can issue the correct clearance and departure procedure. This is not optimal for a person that may be busy with other pilots.

The only other thing that would concern me is having a filed flight plan with FSS that is greatly different than the one you get from the controllers' computer. I don't think the controller's version updates the FSS version. So, if you cancel IFR and ATC services along the way, I think you only have the FSS version for the initial rescue plan. Maybe someone here can confirm/deny. I suppose the ATC version could be pulled back out but that may take some time.
 

boondr

PHD without a degree
Jul 13, 2008
338
2
18
North of the Equator
If you really have no idea, in my neck of the woods, I would say file the best you can with airways, but either way it will be fixed. We modify 90%+ of the routes filed by GA that are unfamiliar with our area. The reason I say make an attempt is that when GA file direct from our airspace to pretty much anywhere is largely taken as arrogant, make an attempt and we'll work with because you tried.

Direct may work elsewhere but here(Northeast) it gets laughed at.
 

PopoySD

Junior Member
Jul 2, 2008
117
0
16
Bay Area, CA
it probably depends where you're flying...filing direct doesn't always help because sometimes it actually screws up with the traffic flow going into some major airport (ie. flying thru the middle of a sequencing sector where the planes are lined up and descending). so it's good to know the traffic flow for the airport you're departing from and where you're going. it helps you as well because it gets you out of being vectored away/around from everybody else and actually end up flying longer than you expected. but you'll also have places where the airports/airspace aren't that busy so filing direct doesn't hurt the operation...so like i said it depends where you are and where you're going.
 
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FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
991
7
18
Filing through restricted airspace is dumb and I would hope most pilots know better. We're familiar with the problem spots near our airspace and are able to figure out (based on the on course heading to any airport) whether the direct route will take the plane into restricted airspace. Then we fix it and issue a full route clearance.

Also, filing direct to airports within the Class B airspace north of us is silly, and you'll never get it without lots of special coordination on our part. However, if you file direct our computer automatically assigns the STAR and we issue it easily. It's really not a burden on us.

This is based on my facility configuration only. Other control environments may have drawbacks for filing direct that I haven't thought of. But to us, it doesn't really matter. We'll either let you go direct or change it easily.
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
1,230
3
38
Nashville TN
Center_Greenhorn probably gave the best advice, but as a few have said filing direct doesn't always work because of restricted airspace, any TFR's, or the destination airport has a STAR that you need to be on.

My recommendation would be to look at your direct routing, if you see restricted airspace then modify your route to go around it, if your destination has arrival procedures file to where the procedure starts. A little pre planning on your part will save you from having to scramble to enter a reroute into your GPS/nav computer.
 

barty

Trusted Member
Sep 25, 2008
312
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I think you should do a little planning and file direct for areas that make sense and not direct for other areas. If there's SUA, for example, that you know from experience that you can't get through regularly, file around it. Ask for direct once airborne if it seems sensible. In other words, do your part.

Agreed. One of the biggest issues I run into with routes are pilots filing right through active special use airspace (you would be shocked how many corporate pilots we have to give vectors for a restricted area that is active almost 24/7/365 up to the low flight levels), across arrival/departure routes, or they ignore SIDs/STARS (turboprop pilots are particularly bad about this) for their intended airport of arrival within class B/C airspace, particularly if it is the primary airport within the terminal area.

It just helps the entire operation run much smoother if pilots would take an extra 5-10 minutes planning their flight instead of just filing direct and expecting ATC to sort everything out once you are airborne.
 

Roddy_Piper

Resident Knucklehead
Jun 15, 2008
3,339
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Vegas baby
www.myspace.com
(you would be shocked how many corporate pilots we have to give vectors for a restricted area that is active almost 24/7/365 up to the low flight levels)

It just helps the entire operation run much smoother if pilots would take an extra 5-10 minutes planning their flight instead of just filing direct and expecting ATC to sort everything out once you are airborne.
which is exactly why i find the longest re-route available to me whenever someone files ABC..XYZ right through restricted airspace. they clearly don't want to do the work of filing a viable flight plan so i'll do it for them.

i've literally had a pilot file TVL..ELP. which is south lake tahoe, nevada direct el paso. he was /W. so i give him a re-route through my airspace, around restricted airspace. his response...i'm unable that route i can't navigate direct those RNAV fixes. WTF?! really?! i'm know /W doesn't mean RNAV, but why in the hell did u file direct then u idiot.
:rant:
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
561
0
16
Arizona
Probably took him a half hour just to put two fixes in the handheld GPS and had no capacity to do more. Sometimes I wonder where these guys get their IFR certs from.

Not long a go, I had a pilot on an IFR flight wandering off course toward Mexico and gave a few helper headings to get back on course. They eventually fessed up that the GPS had failed. No problem, I re-cleared them on course via the closest navaid, which was really already part of their clearance. Gave them a vector to line them up. Initially headed for the navaid and then right back toward Mexico they go. Just had to shake my head and be glad for the freq change to the next controller.