Saturday, January 10, 2009

M - I - C - K - E - Y....

I flew into KMCO recently; this is the large airport in Orlando, FL, home of Walt Disney World. The Captain and I were reminded of this as we started the STAR into the airport because we were cleared the the MTATA intersection. This was the next intersection after HKUNA. Sound familiar, Lion King fans?

To explain: A STAR is Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR), an ATC coded Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) arrival route established for application to arriving IFR aircraft destined for certain airports - to simplify clearance delivery procedures and facilitate transition between en route and instrument approach procedures (from the AIM). In other words, instead of controllers having to give pilots lateral and vertical guidance (and speed adjustments) into larger airports, clearing a pilot to fly a STAR means that the pilot is responsible for the routing and other requirements, making a controller's job easier - everyone is on the same page.
In this example, the PIGLT arrival (ha ha), pilots will navigate to the Valdosta VOR, and then fly to HKUNA. Reading the chart, they can expect to cross HKUNA at Flight Level (FL) 270. In the mind of the pilot, she can plan ahead if they do get this crossing restriction. If the pilot is at FL 410, and has been given a descent to FL 370, she might plan on descending slowly because she only has to lose 4000 feet. But if she knows that she might have to lose 10,000 more feet by HKUNA, she can descend faster to FL370 so she isn't doing a "chop and drop" before HKUNA (power to idle, speedbrakes extend, etc.). Then the chart says expect MTATA at FL250, followed by JAZMN and JAFAR (no crossing restrictions). Notice all of these intersections are five characters - this is standard for plugging into our Flight Management Systems (FMS).

At PIGLT, the STAR starts to get specific depending on what airport one is landing at (this STAR can also apply if the destination is KORL - Orlando Executive Airport). Note PIGLT says, Expect 11,000ft and KMCO landing south (like we landed on 18R), 250kts. This slows arriving aircraft down in preparation for arrival, even though we would have had to slow down to 250kts once we descended below 10,000ft (the speed limit in all situations for all aircraft - this is an operating restriction based on the Federal Aviation Regulation or FAR).

Next is TTIGR, which says KMCO landing South and aircraft landing KORL and KISM (Kissimmee), expect Radar Vectors (headings assigned by ATC) prior to TTIGR. And so on.

Anyway, this is just one of the Arrivals. Some of the other recognizable STARS are the GOOFY FIVE and the MINEE FOUR. Other cities may have sports teams, casino (Las Vegas), or other such references.

No comments:

Post a Comment