When To Enter Arrival / Approach

Good afternoon forum,

When flight planning, i’ve always created the entire route. SID / STAR / Approach but am wondering how “real world” that is?

For longer flights would a pilot enter the STAR and Approach based on current conditions and then possibly get it changed enroute / closer to destination? Or do they not file it and wait until closer to arrival to get the clearance from ATC?

Thanks in advance.

Both.Mostly though I believe it is done enroute.
Some aircraft, I believe the Boeing 777 is one, does not like arrivals to be programmed before departure.
Doing so causes problems with the FMC.
Someone responded to me on this same question about a year ago here.

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Hey there,

You will find it varies in real life for a number of different reasons. Some flight plans are filed with the SID and STAR included as part of the flight plan, whilst others are not.

Below is a couple of real world examples:

Here a flight from Manchester, EGCC to Dublin, EIDW:

EGCC N0344F240 ASMIM1S ASMIM L975 WAL/N0368F260 L10 PENIL/N0358F260 M144 GIGTO/N0350F240 M144 UNDUX/N0298F140 M144 BAGSO BAGSO2X EIDW

As you can see it contains both the SID (ASMIM1S) and the STAR (BAGSO2X) as part of the published flight plan.

Here is another example of a flight from Mallorca in Spain to Vigo, Spain:


As you can see in this routing, the actual SID and STAR is not published as part of the flight plan. It includes EPAMA which will be the end point of the SID and BARKO which will be the starting point of the STAR, but doesn’t publish the actual specific procedure for either of them.

The reason they are or aren’t included as part of the OFP varies for many reasons.

Hope this helps! :slight_smile:


So if getting the arrival while in flight do you wait until you are handed over to tower or approach, request active runway and then request the approach you would like?

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IRL you would be told what to expect for the active runway - approach, and if not satisfactory for you, you can request another. ATC may not be able to do that, so you will have to do as directed.

Unfortunately, in the sim in a lot of cases, that notification comes too late and can be wrong (eg: landing with a strong tailwind) , so I generally program mine en-route and go with that.
The sim ATC doesn’t care much for that, but you need to bear in mind the sim ATC is a “work in progress” and needs substantially more improvement.

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Others have answered your core question, so I’ll just mention liveATC (great to listen to while playing the game too)

Listen to liveATC for very busy airports like LAX, SFO, MIA, JFK etc. Pick the Approach frequencies and you will hear all this play out.

ATC will say stuff like “Expect runway two seven left” you will also hear crews make requests (“Any chance for two seven right?”) etc.


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Thanks for the tip!

I do use Pilot2ATC with ATC Chatter (which is recorded from live ATC chatter back and forth with pilots). The cool thing about that is it is frequency based. So if I tune into ground, between my talking back and forth I hear actual live (recorded) clips of ground control and pilots then when I flip to tower, approach, etc… it’s all the correct type of chatter.

So yes, now that you put it that way, I do hear them get the approaches I just wasnt sure if those were approaches they already filed or if it was fresh.

Thanks again!

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What I haven’t tried in P2ATC and I will today is just filing my SID/STAR and route and leave approach blank and see if P2ATC will assign the approach while in flight.

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