Be an ATC Mind Reader

Predicting ATC routings can save both time and hassle.

Tip G1000

Tip G1000

If you fly IFR in busy parts of the country where direct routings are rare, knowing what routes ATC is likely to give you can be a big time saver. You can look up the preferred ATC routings between airport pairs online to get a good idea of what you should file. My favorite site for doing so is fltplan.com, for the simple reason that I can request an email containing my flight plan confirmation before the flight. Knowing exactly what routing clearance delivery is going to give me before I ever leave the house is fantastic.

It can also alert you to ATC errors, which, although rare, can happen. For instance, on a recent IFR trip, I filed my flight plan based on the preferred routing I found online, but when I received my clearance it was slightly different. It added a couple of new victor airways, one of which was nowhere near my route of flight. When I queried clearance about the discrepancy, the controller agreed the routing wasn’t right, and so he gave me a new one — and guess what? It didn’t make sense either.

The problem now was the amended routing transitioned me from one airway to another at a point where there was no intersection. When I dutifully tried to program it into my airplane’s G1000 system it refused the entry. If ATC really wanted me to fly this routing, I’d have to do it the old fashioned way with VOR needles or some deft FMS reprogramming on the fly. Maybe they’d just give me direct to the destination by this point. One could hope.

Anyway, clearance delivery assured me the new routing was correct. After I got my taxi clearance and completed the runup, I dialed up the tower — at which point the controller asked that I switch back to ground for a change to my clearance.

Uh oh.

Of course, the amended routing was wrong. I advised ready to copy and was given an IFR clearance for the third time that morning. Turns out they wanted me to fly the original flight plan routing I had filed based on what I found on fltplan.com. A few easy button presses and knob twists later, I had the original route programmed and was ready to go. The flight itself went off without a hitch.

I could have just told clearance delivery what I was supposed to fly and maybe saved us all the hassle. Sometimes it pays to be an ATC mind reader.