Question about "join radial" without further clearance

Question about "join radial" without further clearance

Postby mh81 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:47 pm

I filed IFR out of KSNA and got (approximately) this clearance: "fly heading 220 radar vectors Seal Beach VOR Santa Monica VOR then as filed". After taking off, departure gave me "fly heading 280 join the Santa Monica 125 radial". All good so far. Fly west, intercept the radial, turn right, and fly to SMO.

My question is, without further instructions (let's assume the frequency was congested and I wasn't able to get clarification), what am I expected to do on reaching SMO? If I'd heard "resume own navigation", I'd have just continued happily on after Santa Monica. Without that "resume own navigation" instruction, though, what is ATC expecting that I will do? Is it assumed that I'll continue on the clearance I received before taking off?

In this case I was able to ask for clarification and get further instructions, but I'm curious what ATC's expectation for me would have been if I hadn't been able to reach them.

The audio is here: The "join radial" instructions are at about the 30 second mark. I get clarification at about 1:55.


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Re: Question about "join radial" without further clearance

Postby Keith Smith » Mon Feb 03, 2020 9:39 pm

If the SMO R-125 wasn't part of the cleared route to begin with, then I would question the controller as to what to do next. However, since the SMO R-125 was part of your cleared route (flight, including the route, shown here:, then it would be reasonable to assume that you would continue with the cleared route at that point (that would be at SMO).

The controller essentially gave you a shortcut, bypassing SMO and V23, as is common with that real world airspace. Technically, "resume own navigation" should've been included in the instruction as mention in your post, however, the lack of such an instruction doesn't really introduce any ambiguity as to how to proceed. The controller did not alter the clearance limit (ie you should not hold at SMO, or at some random point on the SMO R-125).
Keith Smith
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Re: Question about "join radial" without further clearance

Postby jx_ » Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:03 pm

"Resume own navigation" phraseology is never required until after an aircraft is established on its own navigation for the first time on each flight. This translates to all departing aircraft being vectored off the ground. Since you were assigned heading 220 you were never established on own navigation and therefore should not expect hear "resume own nav".
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