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J van E

Approach information and clearance

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I wonder about the real life procedure when it comes to receiving the STAR. I use ProATC and recently the procedures have changed. At a certain moment, quite a while before the actual approach, ATC tells you which STAR you have to use. It doesn't tell you the runway and transition. When does a real pilot receive the STAR info? And what does he do with it? I fly the Airbus and can't add the STAR to the plan without knowing the runway. So should I (and does a real pilot) look up the STAR using charts and find out which runway it belongs too? ProATC tells you the runway and transition (without repeating the STAR) when you have to contact approach, which often is too late to enter everything into the FMC/MCDU.


In ProATC I can figure things out easily by looking at the inflight information panel but I wonder how a real pilot handles this. Does he also only get a STAR and that's it and when does he enter everything into the FMC/MCDU?

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Probably depends on the country you are flying in, UK wise you will know the runway in use due to getting the atis beforehand, your flight plan will also most likely route to the start point of a couple of stars so you will know which one. 


If i was flying into a place i hadn't before, preflight brief would include star to be used given the weather etc expected.


Regarding fmc, generally if you know what it will be due to previous experience etc then it will be put in on the ground at your dep airport. but quite often i stick it in on handover to approach control when they tell us it, if we are being lazy or don't know which one exactly! But as i said you normally get a good idea from where the flightplan takes you, i.e. if you are coming from the north there will be a set of stars from there for the available runways, the other stars wont be relevant as they will be from other directions.


descent is normally by ATC (in the flying i do), including when to transition, but there will often be minimum and maximum levels/altitudes in stars similar to SLPs etc


If it tells you the star though, i feel it should tell you the runway in use too, as some stars aren't specific. And (again, in my experience) most stars end up with vectors anyway.

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As james says you pull the ATIS about an hour out through the ACARS.  Also it comes from experience.  When you operate out of places several times, you will most likely guess which one they will use.


One airport I dislike in KIND approaching from the south. they will assign the runway after you have been cleared a descend via on the arrival.  Depending on the FMS verision when you change the runway it will leave the current DIRECT TO waypoint but dump everything else.  A quick re-sequence of the flight plan is required.


Most STARS you can change the runway and the STAR remains the same.  However, this poses a problem if the pilot changes the runway and then inadvertently reloads the STAR.  Then the FMS leaves the current DIRECT TO and dumps everything else.  Then you are going to see some very quick typing.  As a matter of technique, I don't hit the EXECUTE button when less than 3 miles to the current waypoint.


Some FMS's can handle changing JUST THE RUNWAY and will re-update the STAR.


I am not that familiar with the Airbus FMS.  Maybe someone else can chime in.

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Thanks! Useful and interesting information! Someone else also already told me (PM) that the expected (!) STAR is often already entered into the system even before pushback. So I will start doing that too, or maybe during cruise, and use the ProATC flight information as if it is some sort of pre-briefing. I always waited for ATC to tell me everything but I understand now ATC is in fact sort of confirming things, not exactly telling me something new. Well, unless things have changed in the meantime, of course. Never really thought about all this before... ;)

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