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Evan Reiter

Boston RNAV STARs and WTM & U.S. Northeast Redesign

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Effective today, the Boston Virtual ATC ZBW ARTCC is taking part in the Windsor, Toronto, Montreal (WTM) and northeast United States modernization project. This includes:

  • Implementation of multiple RNAV Q-routes and T-routes
  • Re-designing preferred (RNAV) routes between several major airports
  • Implementing new optimum profile descent (ODP) RNAV STARs at KBOS

In all, 80 airways/routes in Boston Center (ZBW) airspace will change, including 12 new and 17 amended Q routes, 14 amended jet routes, and 28 route deletions (along with the new STARs).


These changes ONLY affect BVA members who fly RNAV-equipped aircraft, and even then most of the changes affect only turbojets. Those of us flying non-jet aircraft and shorter IFR flights are not affected by the changes.


Members who use Navigraph to update their aircraft will be able to access all of the new waypoints, airways, and procedures with the latest cycle (1412) installed. If you use the freeware source of navdata updates for the default FSX GPS, those are current for cycle 1412 as well.


Most of the preferred routes within the ZBW ARTCC (e.g., KBOS to KACK) are unaffected because they use low-level airways. However, routes headed northwestbound (e.g., to CYYZ, KDTW, etc.) will use new preferred routing. Routings are available in the usual NFDC Preferred Routes application and -- of course -- on FlightAware.


The biggest changes that pilots of RNAV-equipped aircraft inbound to KBOS will notice are those stemming from the KBOS RNAV STAR OPD project. The KRANN3 arrival has been replaced with the ROBUC1, and the QUABN and OOSHN RNAV STARs have been updated. A new RNAV STAR (ZELKA1) has been added with a vertical profile that will serve KBED, KBVY, and KLWM. Each of these RNAV procedures that include vertical navigation extending beyond the Boston TRACON (previously, the RNAV arrivals at KBOS only had depicted altitude instructions and "descend via" operations within Boston TRACON).


To reflect real-world operations, we will NOT begin "descend via" operations on November 13 but will complete a phased in approach. Pilots can expect Boston Center to issue the applicable STAR and runway transition with a specific crossing restriction. For example, pilots on the QUABN3 arrival could be "cleared via Runway 4R transition, cross UROWT at and maintain 11,000". In this case, the pilot is authorized to fly the lateral routing of the procedure (i.e., Runway 4R transition) but must cross UROWT at 11,000', and remain at that altitude until given another descent instruction. The altitude restrictions before UROWT are cancelled, but all published speed restrictions (e.g., 280K over SEETS and DUBLE, and 270K at UROWT) are still required. Pilots are NOT expected to begin "descend via" operations until so cleared.


Once handed off to Boston Approach, pilots will receive the familiar "descend via" instruction, at which point pilots are expected to descend to comply with the published altitude and speed restrictions on the appropriate runway transition.


As "descend via" operations become more common on our server, please keep the following points in mind:

  • Do not comply with the vertical profile altitude restrictions until given "descend via" by ATC.
  • By default, all published speed restrictions along a route or procedure are required (independent of any "descend via" clearance) unless ATC issues an alternative speed instruction. A subsequent "descend via" clearance for a vertical profile cancels any ATC-assigned speed restrictions and requires compliance with all published speeds unless the controller specifically assigns a speed after the "descend via" clearance is issued.
  • Minimum Enroute Altitudes (MEAs) are not part of any vertical profile. MEAs are identified on the procedure graphic along the track, whereas procedure restrictions are identified beside the related waypoint. Only the published altitude restrictions are relevant to "descend via" instructions. MEAs simply provide for the lowest safe altitude for obstruction clearance and radio navigational aid reception.

As always, feel free to ask ATC if you have any questions about the instruction you have been given. Additional information will be posted as Boston Center phases in "descend via" and the vertical profiles extending outside of Boston Approach's airspace become operational.



Evan Reiter

Community Director
Administration Team

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Guest slayer816



https://notams.aim.faa.gov/lta/main/vie ... 5513498498


Boston Virtual ATC Administration are in the process of realigning procedures to reflect the above notice. Always follow ATC instructions, DO NOT descend until instructed; when instructed "Descend via" follow the instructions per the NOTAM.


Send all questions to [email protected] or my email below.



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