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6/17/21 

AIM 

Section 4.  Arrival Procedures 

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1.  Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR) 

Procedures 

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 
procedures. 

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. 

NOTE

 

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 
clearance. 

REFERENCE

 

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 will 
contain the phraseology “DESCEND VIA.” If 
vectored or cleared to deviate off 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. If the STAR contains published altitude 
and/or speed restrictions, those restrictions are 

canceled and pilots will receive an altitude to 
maintain and, if necessary, a speed. 

(a) 

Clearance to “descend via” authorizes 

pilots to: 

(1) 

Descend at pilot’s discretion to meet 

published restrictions and laterally navigate on a 
STAR. 

(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. 

NOTE

 

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 
MEA. 

EXAMPLE

 

1. 

Lateral/routing clearance only. 

“Cleared Tyler One arrival.” 

NOTE

 

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. 

Arrival Procedures 

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