The Arrival Procedures Tutorial (Part 2)

STAR (Arrival)

In Part 2 we look at the Standard Terminal Arrival Routes or STARs. No, not the stars found in space. So what are these things? Like SIDs, a good way to quickly describe what these are, is that these are the off ramps that you would take when driving on a highway. They funnel you from wherever it is you’re coming from to a specified path as you become within range of your destination.

At the end of this tutorial you’ll be able to:

  • Add an Arrival
  • Determine what arrival and transition is appropriate for your flight

Terms Used

STARs – Standard Terminal Arrival Routes: Similar to a SID, this is an instrument procedure that guides aircraft in from where they’re approaching from to predetermined points near the airport. These procedures funnel aircraft into a route that allows ATC to get them set up for the approach sequence into the airport. It’s crucial to maintain appropriate speeds throughout the arrival portion of your flight because everyone will slowing to set up for their approach as well. Altitude and speed restrictions will be more prevalent here than SIDs for the same reason outlined in the (SIDs Definition) .

Transition: The word “Transition” is used all throughout aviation. You’re probably familiar with transition when calling Tower and asking for a “transition” through their airspace. To add onto your knowledge bank, a Transition in this tutorial will refer to a branch on the SID/STAR that you will break off to head in the direction of your destination. Not all SID/STAR procedures will have a transition but do keep an eye out for them as they will be beneficial when wanting a more direct route.

Route of Flight

Route of Flight

For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be planning a flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (KPHX) to Denver International Airport (KDEN) via the MRBIL1 Mr. Bill One departureLARKS2 Larks Two arrivalILS35L to land on Runway 35L.


Now we need to start planning our arrival portion of our flight. Using some of the same techniques covered in the SID section, the first thing we’ll need to do is anticipate what direction ATC is landing traffic (based on weather). Once we get that information, we’re ready to begin our steps to load in our arrival.

Step 1: Procedure Menu

Our first step is to tap on KDEN and open the airport tab. To begin, tap on the airport to bring up the KDEN airport information tab. Tap on the airport tab to bring up the expanded view and click on PROC at the bottom of that tab to bring up what you would find in Image 2.1. Once you’re in this view, tap on “Select Arrival”.

Image 2.1

Step 2: Procedure Overview

We will now need to determine what STAR will be appropriate for the direction we’re approaching the Denver area from. You will notice that the LARKS2 would be our best option due to how direct it would be to navigate to from our last waypoint on our flight plan (JARPA).

Image 2.2

Step 3: Procedure Selection

Now that we’ve decided that the LARKS2 would be our best arrival option, we’ll go ahead and select that in our menu. All of our other STARs have disappeared. This is ok because we have not selected any other STARs to be displayed. Any procedure you tap on will remain displayed on your map.

On the LARKS2 you will see that we have 5 different waypoints that we can join this arrival from. In the next step, we’ll choose the one that would be closest and most along our route of flight.

Image 2.3

Step 4: Transition Selection

Now that we’ve determined what arrival would be best suited for us, we now select the transition that would be our best place to enter this arrival from. The Rattlesnake VOR (RSK) happens to be almost inline with our flight path, so I’ve chosen that as my transition. Once that’s been selected, I’ll tap on “Add to Flight Plan”.

Note: After you enter in the transition, “Runways” will not be prompted until you go to the Approach menu. You will enter in the runway in the following “Approach” section.

Image 2.4

Step 5: FPL Overview

Once you’re done with these steps, your map should look like this now. Your map now shows the SID and the STAR individually grouped in the FPL and connected to create one flight path. But we’re not fully complete. We need to load in our approach so that we can land. Check out the next section below, “The Approach Procedures Tutorial”.

Image 2.5

To Summarize

  • Be observant of weather conditions when determining what arrival procedure would be appropriate. This includes looking at the airport layout, METAR, listening to ATIS and/or reading the D-ATIS (Digital ATIS).

  • It is imperative that ATC instructions be followed if given vectors or other commands that deviate you away from your FPL.

  • Choose a STAR and Transition that takes you as towards your destination

  • After you enter in the transition, “Runways” will not be prompted until you go to the Approach menu. You will enter in the runway in the following “Approach” section.

  • Really Important! You will be unable to request "Descend via [arrival name] if you delete a waypoint within a procedures grouping. You will need to reload your procedure and attempt your request for descent again. You may adjust waypoint altitudes without this penalty.

    • If you need to delete a waypoint in your arrival that would otherwise cause a conflict with your desired approach procedure (ie. making you do a weird 180˚ turn), only delete the waypoint(s) after you’ve been cleared to “descend via”.
  • Never set VNAV until you’re approved to descend with ATC or until you’re able to monitor your entire descent.

  • Add altitudes for various waypoints along your STAR. Some STARs will have a lot of altitudes, others will not have any. These mirror real world procedures and this is normal. If you wish to add altitudes, simply tap on the waypoint you wish to edit, tap on “Set ALT” and type in your altitude.

    • *These are non-rounding figures; meaning, you can type in 12,345ft or 1,333ft

For Part 3 of this series, head over to:

The Approach Procedures Tutorial

To go back to Part 1, click the link below:


If you have any questions on any of these tutorials, please don’t hesitate to drop your question in the comments below. Please try to keep the questions separated in each topic so that myself or another helpful community member can answer your question in a prompt manner.