In the following ATCast video, brought to you by SATCA and the University of North Dakota, you will learn the basics of Clearance Delivery. If the video doesn't load, the link below will take you to another site. Please use your BACK button to return here after watching!
Introduction to Clearance Delivery
Note: If the video above is not available, you can go to www.liveatc.net and listen to any Clearance Delivery frequency listed there. At a major airport if there is no DEL frequency listed, try monitoring the Ground frequency.
IFR ClearancesIf you listened to the above example of a clearance, you may be thinking, "There is a lot to remember". While it may seem like a lot of information, there is an acronym which will help you remember the different aspects of the clearance and the order they are presented in. It is known as the "CRAFT" acronym. CRAFT is an abbreviation for Clearance, Route, Altitude, Frequency, Transponder.
- C (CLEARANCE LIMIT) - The first portion of the CRAFT acronym is the "C" or Clearance Limit. The clearance limit is the furthest point along a route that an aircraft may fly. Usually it is the destination airport, but in rare cases it may be any fix along the aircraft's route. Phraseology: "CLEARED TO (clearance limit)"
- R (ROUTE) - The second portion of the CRAFT acronym is the "R" or Route. This is the method that the aircraft is going to use to get to the clearance limit. There are two ways to issue the "R" portion of the CRAFT Acronym: Using an "abbreviated (as filed) clearance" and a "full route clearance".
Abbreviated Clearance - This is the most common form of clearance that you will see. It is used in cases where the filed flight plan is substantially correct. You will issue the phraseology listed below depending on which departure procedure has been filed:
- Radar Vectored Departure - Phraseology: "(DP), RADAR VECTORS (transition/fix), THEN AS FILED" (DP is short for Departure Procedure, also known as a SID)
- Pilot Nav/Hybrid Departure and exiting at a published transition - Phraseology: "(DP), (transition name) TRANSITION, THEN AS FILED"
- Pilot Nav/Hybrid Departure and not exiting at a published transition - Phraseology: "(DP) departure, THEN AS FILED"
- No Departure Procedure - Phraseology: "RADAR VECTORS (fix/airway), THEN AS FILED"
- NOTE: If there is no radar controller such as Departure, Approach or Center above you, the term "radar vectors" is not used. Substitute the word "direct" since there is no controller to issue vectors. This is a VATSIM situation and would not occur in real world aviation.)
What if I have to amend the route??
Anytime you change an aircraft's filed route, you must read back the entire portion of the route that was amended, using the appropriate clearance. After you have read the amendment, then state the phrase "then as filed".
Original route: OXI MIE DQN ROD
Amended route:DNV VHP DQN ROD
Then you would say, "Amendment to your route: Cleared to (DEST) via radar vectors Danville (DNV) DIRECT Brickyard (VHP), DIRECT Dayton (DQN) then as filed".
- Full Route Clearance - A Full Route Clearance is one in which you read back the entire route to the pilot. Sometimes pilots may request this to confirm their route of flight. It would also occur if the entire route was replaced with one you provided. There are some rules for correct readback of a clearance. When a full clearance is issued, add "+" signs to the amended portions.
- Controller will read the entire route to the pilot
- Anytime you see a three letter identifier, it is a VOR. A two letter identifier is an NDB. If the three letter identifier is at the end of the flight plan it MAY BE an airport but destination airports should not normally be included in the filed route. It also may be a VOR in the vicinity of the airport, and the pilot expects to go direct from that VOR to the field.
- Anything with five letters is either an intersection, DME Fix, or GPS Waypoint and is read the way that it is spelled. Example SILKS is pronounced "SILKS", RAVNN is pronounced "RAVEN". With many five-letter fixes just pronounce them with your best guess.
- Airways are pronounced as "VICTOR (number)" and "JAY (number)" for Jet Routes. V242 is pronounced "VICTOR two forty two" and J61 is pronounced as "JAY sixty one". You may also encounter "Q" RNAV routes such as Q102. Simply pronounce the "Q" and the number. "AR" routes are Atlantic, and would be read as, "Atlantic Route one".
- When a three letter identifier is next to another three letter or five letter identifier, you would state the word "DIRECT" between the identifiers. If there is no airway such as those just discussed, the aircraft will proceed direct from waypoint or fix to next waypoint or fix.
- In this example: RBV ETX J60 PSB YNG The clearance would be read as, "Radar vectors Robbinsville, direct East Texas VOR, JAY sixty Phillipsburg VOR, direct Youngstown VOR". (The "VOR" may be omitted and appears for clarity)
- In this example: OXI MIE V192 DQN The clearance would be read as, "Radar vectors Knox, direct Muncie, Victor 192, Dayton".
- In this example: INDY4 DQN APE V43 TVT KEATN4 The clearance would be read as, "Indy Four Departure, radar vectors Dayton, direct Appleton, Victor 43, Tiverton, Keaton Four Arrival".
- A (ALTITUDE) - The third portion of the CRAFT acronym is the "A" or "Altitude". This is the altitude information that will be given to the pilot. Usually it contains an initial altitude as well as a statement telling the aircraft to expect its final cruise altitude so many minutes after departure (usually 10). The initial altitude is aircraft type/airport specific. The reason why we tell the aircraft to expect their cruise altitude after so many minutes is for lost communication procedures which is generally not a problem here on VATSIM. Phraseology: "MAINTAIN (initial altitude). EXPECT (final cruise) ONE ZERO MINUTES AFTER DEPARTURE"
- NOTE: An intermediate altitude "maintain 5000" is only issued when there is a radar controller above to issue a climb above it. This is another unique situation on VATSIM. The reason is that if a clearance "maintain 5000, expect cruise one-zero minutes after departure" is given, and the pilot then departs on unicom with no radar controller to issue a higher altitude, he must then technically stay at 5000 for the full ten minutes before climbing above it. VATSIM pilots will generally ignore this, but to be correct, the controller issuing the clearance must delete the initial/intermediate altitude. The altitude portion of the clearance would then simply be, "maintain filed cruise altitude".
Did you know...
If the pilot is flying a Departure Procedure, and that departure states their initial altitude, when to expect their final cruise, and the departure frequency, then you can omit those in your clearance. Remember though that not all pilots may have read the chart, so keep this in mind when using this shortcut.
- F (FREQUENCY) - The fourth portion of the CRAFT acronym is the "F" or "Frequency". This is the frequency which the aircraft will switch to after departing. It usually is DEP/APP but may also be CTR if the APP/DEP controller is not online. If there is no radar controller online, it will be the Unicom frequency. Phraseology:"Contact Departure on" (frequency) OR "Switch to unicom one two two point eight"
- T (TRANSPONDER) - The final portion of the CRAFT acronym is the "T" or "Transponder" also known as "squawk code". This is the squawk code that you will issue to the pilot. Phraseology: "SQUAWK (squawk code)" This code normally comes from the POF file loaded with your radar client and is supplied automatically by use of the F9 key.
IFR Clearance Examples
Example #1: Pilot Nav/Hybrid Departure
Clearance using CRAFT
- C - "American 871, Cleared to Orlando International Airport"
- R - "Plains Four departure, Goodland Transition, then as filed"
- A - "Maintain one zero thousand. Expect Flight Level three nine zero, one zero minutes after departure"
- F - "Departure Frequency one two eight point two five"
- T - "Squawk three seven zero six"
Example #2: Radar Vectored Departure
Clearance using CRAFT
- C - "United 3371, Cleared to Denver International Airport"
- R - "Reno Four departure, radar vectors LoveLock, then as filed"
- A - "Maintain one five thousand. Expect Flight Level three seven zero, one zero minutes after departure"
- F - "Departure Frequency one one nine point two five"
- T - "Squawk six four two one"
Example #3: No Departure Clearance
Clearance using CRAFT
- C - "Skyhawk 5204N, Cleared to Muncie Airport"
- R - "via radar vectors Knox, then as filed"
- A - "Maintain three thousand. Expect seven thousand, one zero minutes after departure"
- F - "Departure Frequency one two four point eight"
- T - "Squawk three one two one"
- (General aviation aircraft can be referred to as "November five two zero four november" or "CESSNA five two zero four november".)
VFR Class Bravo Clearance
Lets look at how the CRAFT acronym works for an aircraft leaving an airport in Class Bravo or Charlie airspace.
- C (Clearance Limit) - Issuing the "C" portion of the CRAFT acronym will depend upon the airspace in which the aircraft is departing.
- Class Charlie - You will skip this portion of the CRAFT Acronym for a Class Charlie VFR Departure. Aircraft are NOT cleared into or out of Charlie airspace.
- Class Bravo - Unlike a Class Charlie VFR departure, you WILL use the word "cleared". You will also need to state the name of the Bravo airspace. Phraseology: "CLEARED OUT OF THE LOS ANGELES CLASS BRAVO"
- R (Route) - Does not apply to VFR aircraft departing Bravo airspace unless otherwise specified by the Standard Operating Procedures of the airport.
- A (Altitude) - The Altitude is the same as it would be for a VFR leaving the Charlie. Phraseology: "MAINTAIN VFR AT OR BELOW (vfr altitude)"
- F (Frequency) - Provide a departure frequency. Phraseology: "DEPARTURE FREQUENCY (frequency)"
- T (Transponder) - Issue a transponder code. Phraseology: "SQUAWK (squawk code)"
VFR Clearance Examples
Successful Readback and Summary
Now you should have a good understanding of how to correctly issue both IFR and VFR clearances. Make sure that the pilot correctly reads the clearance back and then have them contact ground. "CONTACT GROUND (frequency)" Your job as Clearance Delivery controller is complete.