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Approach — Altitude Assignments Last updated: 2018-01-23

When issuing altitudes you have to ensure that the aircraft operating along a published route with a published MEA (minimum en route altitude) are given altitudes at or above the MEA. If the aircraft is operating along a route with a lower MEA than MVA, you may descend the aircraft to any altitude above the MEA provided that the aircraft will remain on its route. For example, an aircraft operating on an airway with MEA 4000 and the MVA in the area is 5000 may be descended to 4000 as long as the aircraft continues on the airway.


PHRASEOLOGY-
CLIMB/DESCEND AND MAINTAIN (altitude)

In this case, the pilot is expected to start descend upon receiving clearance and should descend at the rates published in the AIM. However, if you allow the pilot to descend at his discretion he may conduct a descent within the context of the term “at pilot’s discretion” as described in the AIM.

PHRASEOLOGY-
CLIMB/DESCEND AT PILOT’S DISCRETION

Example-
LAS_APP: “American 123, descend and maintain 8000”
LAS_APP: “American 123, descend at pilot’s discretion, maintain 8000”

You may also give altitude restrictions for climb/descend clearances:

PHRASEOLOGY-
CROSS (fix, waypoint) AT (altitude).
CROSS (fix, waypoint) AT OR ABOVE/BELOW (altitude).


CROSS (number of miles) MILES (direction) OF (name of fix, waypoint) AT (altitude).


CROSS (number of miles) MILES (direction) OF (name of fix, waypoint) AT OR ABOVE/BELOW (altitude).

Example-
LAS_APP: “American 123, cross IPUMY at or above 11000,descend and maintain 8000”
LAS_APP: “American 123, cross BLD at and maintain 8000,”

You may want to add the following information to some climb/descent clearances:

PHRASEOLOGY-
AFTER PASSING (fix, waypoint),
or
AT (time) (time in hours, minutes, and nearest quarter minute).
or
CLIMB/DESCEND TO REACH (altitude) AT (time (issue time check) or fix, waypoint),
or
A POINT (number of miles) MILES (direction) OF (name of DME NAVAID),
or
MAINTAIN (altitude) UNTIL (time (issue time check), fix, waypoint), THEN CLIMB/DESCEND AND MAINTAIN (altitude).

Many STARs into ZLA airports are profile STARs and you may give clearances to aircraft so they follow the published altitudes on the charts. Note that charts that contain published "EXPECT" altitudes do not fall under this category.

PHRASEOLOGY-
DESCEND VIA (name and number of STAR),

Example-
LAS_APP: “American 123, descend via the SUNST four arrival”


Some arrival procedures also contain runway transitions. If one is published on an arrival, controllers must advise pilots on initial contact or as soon as possible of the transition to be flown. If the transition is assigned less than 10 miles from the runway transition waypoint, radar vectors to final must be provided.


PHRASEOLOGY-
(STAR/RNAV STAR/FMSP name and number) ARRIVAL.
(STAR/RNAV STAR/FMSP name and number) ARRIVAL, (transition name) TRANSITION.
CHANGE/AMEND TRANSITION TO (runway number).
CHANGE/AMEND TRANSITION TO (runway number),
TURN LEFT/RIGHT or HEADING (heading) FOR VECTOR TO FINAL APPROACH COURSE.


Example-
LAS_APP: "American 123, descend via the SITEE two arrival, runway 26L transition.
LAX_F_APP: "American 123, change transition to runway 6L."


You can also give clearances involving multiple altitudes. This will allow the aircraft to be at any altitude within the specified range:


PHRASEOLOGY-
MAINTAIN BLOCK (altitude) THROUGH (altitude)

Example-
LAS_APP: “American 123, maintain block 10000 through 8000”

“{Reference: FAAO 7110.65 4-5-7 and 4-7-1}”

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