The difference between a RNAV STAR and a STAR

What’s the difference?

A transition is a route that transitions the flight from an en route segment (ie airway) to the arrival route (ie STAR or Approach procedure).

In the U.S. the transition is usually depicted on the STAR chart (with other transitions) but the route lines for the transition will be smaller on the chart than the STAR. So we typically refer to the STAR and all its transitions as the STAR as they are all depicted on the same chart.

In parts of Europe (and other areas) they just have the transition route, it does not connect to a STAR, instead the route connects to an approach procedure. There is no STAR (technically), so its called a transition.

But in the FMS/CDU they will be listed with the STAR’s .

An RNAV transition is effectively serves the same purpose as a STAR you can treat it as such.


I never talked about transitions here

Should be the same as it’s the ‘pre-arrival’ STAR - if I’m right

Also read the explanation wrong of the transition

Got it wrong, sorry.

A STAR is an air traffic control ATC-coded IFR arrival route established for application to arriving IFR aircraft destined for certain airports. Area navigation (RNAV) STAR/FMS procedures for arrivals serve the same purpose but are used only by aircraft equipped with flight management systems FMS or GPS. The purpose of both is to simplify clearance delivery procedures and facilitate transition between en route and instrument approach procedures.



In short an RNAV STAR similar to an approach is the use of satellite based positioning waypoints or area navigation. Hence an RNAV STAR you’ll need to track these waypoints to the RNP value as stated on the chart or otherwise assumed as a terminal value. So basically instead of tracking ground based stations you’ll overfly satellite positioned waypoints.

Now a non RNAV STAR is the use of ground navigational beacons, radials VOR stations and that stuff.
So this you’ll see the STAR track over VOR stations, intercept radials and stuff like that; you will not see waypoints in this STAR.
For example you may need to intercept the 120 degree radial outbound from a certain station; imagine an extended line in that direction. Or maybe you’ll need to track a certain distance from a ground based VOR and then turn to a certain heading.

So to answer your question; an RNAV STAR is the use of satellite positioned waypoints and a non RNAV STAR is using ground based stations and not waypoints.


So how do I know if I need to follow the RNAV STAR charts or the STAR charts when approaching an airport?

Both have the same procedures; you follow everything that is marked on the chart.
In Infinite Flight following a ground based STAR is hard to do because there won’t be any waypoints there.
You can use a tool like this to convert real intersections to waypoints in IF.

1 Like

So I choose which charts I follow?

1 Like

Which charts are you referring to?
Is there a choice between an RNAV STAR and a ground based STAR?
Both are fine, it depends on capabilities of the aircraft in real life.

1 Like

Well yes. If you check the charts for Zürich, you will see that there are both RNAV STAR charts and STAR charts.

Yes, I flew there the other day.
If you look between them you’ll see that the RNAV STAR is using waypoints, while the marked waypoints on the non RNAV version is marked in radials and distances from a VOR for example.

In the case of Zurich aircraft will mostly fly the RNAV ones as they are capable of flying these exceptionally accurately due to their GPS positioning information. The non RNAV version would be used for aircraft that don’t have that.

1 Like

Could you please help me with my other topic?

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.