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Arrival Procedures

Section 4. Arrival Procedures

5−4−1. Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR)


a. A STAR is an ATC coded IFR arrival route

established for application to arriving IFR aircraft

destined for certain airports. STARs simplify

clearance delivery procedures, and also facilitate

transition between en route and instrument approach


1. STAR procedures may have mandatory

speeds and/or crossing altitudes published. Other

STARs may have planning information depicted to

inform pilots what clearances or restrictions to

expect.” “Expect” altitudes/speeds are not consid-

ered STAR procedures crossing restrictions unless

verbally issued by ATC. 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.


The “expect” altitudes/speeds are published so that pilots

may have the information for planning purposes. 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



14 CFR Section 91.185(c)(2)(iii).

2. Pilots navigating on, or navigating a

published route inbound to, a STAR procedure must

maintain last assigned altitude until receiving

authorization to descend so as to comply with all

published/issued restrictions. This authorization may

contain the phraseology “DESCEND VIA.” If

vectored or cleared to deviate off of a STAR, pilots

must consider the STAR canceled, unless the

controller adds “expect to resume STAR;” pilots

should then be prepared to rejoin the STAR at a

subsequent fix or procedure leg. If a descent

clearance has been received that included a crossing

restriction, pilots should expect the controller to issue

an altitude to maintain.

(a) Clearance to “descend via” authorizes

pilots to:

(1) Descend at pilot’s discretion to meet

published restrictions and laterally navigate on a


(2) 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.

(3) Once established on the depicted

arrival, to descend and to meet all published or

assigned altitude and/or speed restrictions.


1. When otherwise cleared along a route or procedure that

contains published speed restrictions, the pilot must com-

ply with those speed restrictions independent of any

descend via clearance.
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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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
1. Lateral/routing clearance only.

“Cleared Tyler One arrival.”


In Example 1, pilots are cleared to fly the lateral path of the

procedure. Compliance with any published speed

restrictions is required. No descent is authorized.
2. Routing with assigned altitude.

“Cleared Tyler One arrival, descend and maintain

flight level two four zero.”

“Cleared Tyler One arrival, descend at pilot’s discre-

tion, maintain flight level two four zero.”