Shortcuts from cleared flight plan

Questions and comments about the PE Pilot Training Program

Shortcuts from cleared flight plan

Postby maxmoe » Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:35 pm

Hello,

Flew L35 OKACO V386 PSP V388 PDZ PDZ270 RNDAL V363 POXKU V8 SLI KSNA tonight.

At one point on the leg to PSP, ATC gave me shortcut instructions to BANDS.

Two questions, while I add the new waypoint to my flight plan, should keep flying my current direction or turn right some degrees as the full instructions were “turn right direct BANDS”?

Note at that point I did not know where BANDS was.

I turned some 20 seconds later after I keyed in the direct BANDS into the G1000.

What is the acceptable turn time?

Second question, I assume if I don’t get any further instructions that I join my cleared flightplan at the nearest intercept after I passed the direct BANDS?

PS: ATC did not yell at me, so I assume I did it right. Just wanted to confirm the best practice.

Thank you

Max
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Re: Shortcuts from cleared flight plan

Postby Kevin_atc » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:26 am

Hi Max,

You’re expected to comply as quickly as possible, but shortcuts are a bit different than a regular vector because ATC knows you have to set it up in your GPS. If the controller needs it quickly, they should say something like “turn right heading 050, when able cleared direct XXX.” In this example, you would turn to a 050 heading and then plug in the shortcut to your GPS. So, if it takes you 10-15 seconds to plug it in, that’s acceptable.

As for your second question, are you asking if you need to follow the direct line from the exact point you were issued the instruction? You may follow whatever direct point it creates at the time you get it in. No need to backtrack.
If that’s not what your second question was asking, please clarify.

Shortcuts aren’t precision vectors. ATC isn’t expecting the same result as an actual heading vector so you have more leeway with shortcuts.
Kevin
Retired PilotEdge Air Traffic Controller / Instructor
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Re: Shortcuts from cleared flight plan

Postby Keith Smith » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:51 am

If ATC is clearing you to a fix which is part of your existing cleared route, they're going to expect you to make that turn fairly quickly. If you're unable to do so (for example, if the fix isn't a turning point in the flight plan and you don't have it explicitly entered as a waypoint in the programmed route), I would ask for an initial vector while you get that setup. They will then say, "fly heading xxx, proceed direct [fix name] when able."

You can generally assume that when ATC clears you direct to a fix, it is a fix that is along the cleared route. They're not amending the clearance liimt...you're still cleared to the destination. All they're doing is changing the route to present position, direct to said fix, then the rest of the route. You can indeed continue on the cleared route upon reaching said fix.

The only time you'd need to seek clarification on what to do as you're approaching the fix would be if you'd been cleared to a fix that wasn't on your cleared route. If that was the case, the controller would either provide additional routing at the time of the change, ie. "cleared direct [new fix], direct [a fix on the route]," OR, they'd make it a new clearance limit, "cleared to the [new fix name] via direct, hold [holding instructions and EFC time]."

EDIT: had this written out 2 hours ago, save for the last paragraph. Wrote last paragraph when able, went to submit and I see that Kevin has addressed most of it. I'll submit it in any case as there is some additional detail on the second question.
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Re: Shortcuts from cleared flight plan

Postby Marcus Becker » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:55 am

I'm curious if ATC gave new routing because BANDS isn't on your filed route. If so, like Kevin said, you will usually get a heading to fly until you are able to go direct to an assigned fix.
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Re: Shortcuts from cleared flight plan

Postby maxmoe » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:44 pm

I noticed around PSP I get routed to BANDS on the way to PDZ once I reach the assigned altitude. I guess flying the full route is only, if you have a slow climb.
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Re: Shortcuts from cleared flight plan

Postby Keith Smith » Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:49 am

It may have been a controller error. As Marcus said, BANDS is not on any of the airways that made up your cleared route. Direct DEWAY would've made sense, but not BANDS. I would've questioned the clearance and said, "BANDS is not part of current route, where should I go after BANDS?" BANDS is on V16 which is nearby to V388, but it's not actually on V388.
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