Airport Charts

I have a question on the difference on different charts for approach, departure, and Standard Arrival. Could someone with knowledge on this topic explain the difference between:




these are all of the charts for KSAN.



You have Arrivals, Departures, and Instruments approaches. Departure procedures also known as SIDs are designed to get you to an airway and on the “highway” air system. These are nice to have it gives pilots and controllers a clear direction of where aircraft will be. Arrivals or STARS (Standard Terminal Arrivals) give pilots the “off ramp” from a highway to the approaches of airports… it looks like you referenced San Diego.

RNAV or Radio Navigation is a sytem used within the aircraft to get you lined up for a runway.
ILS or Instrument landing system is used for IFR ( Instrument flight rules) when weather is bad and you cannot see the runway. The ILS is a capture to your aircraft computer to held align you on the center line and glide slope of designated runway.
LOC - kinda the same thing as an ILS

ALL these depend on a few factors… Weather, Obstacles, Direction of flight, and type and category of aircraft
It is also about understanding Navigation in general. Study basic navigation and you will soon understand how they all play a roll in sequencing, and who to talk to when flying.


If you’re asking what each of these are, they are, respectively,

Departure procedures: standard departure headings, altitudes, perhaps speeds.[chosen based on destination, direction of travel]

Arrival procedure, again starting at a remote location and heading toward the airfield and giving altitudes, headings and speeds at waypoints along the way [chosen based upon where starting point of approach (i.e. where you’re coming from)]

Approach procedures, used once you’re in the vicinity of the field, starting from the end of the arrival plate and taking you to a specific runway, whereas the arrival plates brought you toward the field, generally only offering one or two directions, depending on where you’re landing.

They are named after a waypoint on the chart generally. They’re used so that when planes are arriving, they do so in an orderly, pre-set fashion rather than an uncoordinated mass. Most will have what are called Transitions, meaning you can use, say the same arrival plate whether you’re starting at OCN or west of there, North of KNUC (I’m too lazy to remember that VOR [Edit: SXC]).

For KSAN, as an example, you would use one arrival plate if you’re traveling south along the coast, but another if you’re coming from the northeast, say, by the Twentynine Palms VOR.

Essentially, they standardize traffic flow.


Here’s more about that in a video playlist also covering how to read the chart in addition to answering you’re question :)

All About Approach Charts:


As an example of one that fits inside of a single IF region, here’s what planes flying from KLAX to KSAN would follow. IF has way more traffic than this really allows for, with planes leaving KLAX for KSAN every 2 seconds and all.

But mostly I want to point out the altitudes and speeds for all those people screaming about realism in IF, except when it comes to altitudes and velocity [Edit: I just realized that’s not a VOR, but is the field. LCOVE-STEPN-KLOMN is essentially entering right downwind for 27]:


Tim hit this spot on. Nothing more for me to add. 😁


wow thanks @castle55, @Shawn_Coleman, and @Tim_B!!! Really helpful!


Simular to @Shawn_Coleman link, this one also gives details on how to read and understand the different charts

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