When to request descent via STAR

November, 18, 2021 by AviationChampion

You’re on a flight from Los Angeles on your way to San Francisco, and Center opens for the Oakland FIR. How should you know when to request descent via STAR?

First things first, STAR is an abbreviation for Standard Terminal Arrival Route. As for the departure side of things, this is what’s known as “SID’s”. This abbreviation is short for Standard Instrument Departure. When someone is planning a flight, it’s very likely to see a SID and STAR on their route.

Now that you’ve read the definitions of those two abbreviations, it’s time to discuss the descent part of your route. According to the Flying Guide | Pilot to Radar Controller Communication Table, a pilot should only request descent via STAR when they are within 1 minute of their top of descent.

If you’re not good at calculating the top of descent, a very useful strategy according to Calculating Top of Descent – Flying Magazine, “A quick and easy way to figure it out is to start with your altitude above field elevation and multiply that number by three. This will give you the approximate distance in nautical miles from the airport to start a 500-foot-per-minute descent in the typical light general aviation airplane and reach pattern altitude.”

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!

AviationChampion is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He lives in the United States currently residing in Ohio. He loves to control busy airports in his free time and work on things to keep himself busy. His favorite things to do include dirt biking, ATV riding, going to the beach, spotting airplanes at his local airport (KCMH), zip-lining and flying on Infinite Flight.