SID & STAR: Departing well… and arriving safe!

(Nederlandse versie binnenkort beschikbaar)

Among all passionate simmers, many are those who question the need – and mostly the correct utilization – of SIDs and STARs. This is a great reason to start the first “Tutorial for Flight Simmers, Young Pilots, and Aviation Enthusiasts” of a series to come…


Without getting into lengthy and detailed explanations on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), simplified explanations followed by a small EBRR-LSGG example will be given.

First of all, let us remember what the two following acronyms mean: 

  • SID stands for STANDARD INSTRUMENT DEPARTURE, i.e. an IFR departure procedure.;
  • STAR means STANDARD TERMINAL ARRIVAL ROUTE, an IFR arrival procedure on an airport. The STAR is the route segment preceding the approach as well.

I like to see the aerial routes as a highway that you need to take to arrive at a certain destination. In general, you first take a route segment before reaching the highway. That’s the SID. Then, you leave the highway at a certain point, from where you ride to your final destination. That segment is the STAR.

LOWI-RNAV-SIDs-26Note that the SID and STAR procedures are always connected from one side to one/some runway(s) and to the other side to a published WAYPOINT.

This way, on the map shown on the left, we can see for example that the SID MOGTI 2H at Innsbruck (LOWI) connects the runway 26 of the Innsbruck airport to the MOGTI point, located at 13000 feet and going through the valley to avoid the hills.


Note as well that SIDs and STARs are usually given the name of the point which in general connects to the route, it is therefore a handy piece of information to quickly locate yourself.

Let us take now a specific example, with a flight EBBR – LSGG (Brussels – Geneva). The take-off runway to use is the 25R, and the 23 for landing. We will fly a 737NG and the given indications are related to its FMC.

Here’s the proposed route :


(I indicated the SID and STAR in brackets on purpose as they are the segments to be specified and explained here – see the maps SID/STAR at the end of this post, published in medium resolution with the friendly contribution of navigraph)

TUTO-01-FMC-RTE-PRELOADWe start by setting the route in the FMC (RTE page – I’m assuming here that you know how to enter a route, otherwise you’ll need to wait for another explanation post; enter at least EBBR in the departure and LSGG in arrival or else the following explanations won’t be sufficient). 

Let us now move to the DEP/ARR page.

To choose the departures at EBBR, we first press the LSK 1L key (uppermost key on the left of the screen) to access the departure runways and SIDs menu.

TUTO-01-FMC-EBBR-DEPARTURES-25R-SELECTWe first select the runway in the right column, here 25R. In this way, the left column only shows the SIDs connected to the 25R. In this filtered list, we pick a compatible SID with our route which starts from ROUSY (first waypoint, see above). By scrolling through the SIDs with PREV PAGE/NEXT PAGE, we can find ROUSY 7C (or ROUS7C, abbreviated). Now we can select it with the LSK placed at its left. We have our departure configured!

TUTO-01-FMC-LSGG-ARRIVALS-ILS23-SELECTEDSimilar procedure for the arrival : we want to land on runway 23 and the last waypoint of our route is AKITO.

Let us go again to the DEP/ARR page of the FMC, but this time we select arrivals at LSGG (LSK 2R key, second starting from above on the right of the screen). 

We first select the approach procedure (probably ILS23), and as before with the SIDs, we only see the available STARs related to the ILS23 in the left column. We just need to find a STAR starting at AKITO, which is not difficult since it’s called AKITO XX (AKITO 2R in our case, as long as your data is from March 2016). 

Well done, we now have our arrival configured !

TUTO-01-MOD-RTE-DISCONTINUITYWe still need to check in the LEGS page that there are no discontinuities in the route, and to reorganize the points if necessary…

If you fly in network, the control tower should indicate a departure/arrival procedure to you, or assist you to join an approach procedure. It will either conform to a published procedure, or it will guide you through a different path.

Of course, don’t hesitate to practice those steps offline first, to gain a better understanding and get familiar with them…

Even better : prepare a flight at home, and come test it in our simulator. You’ll get advice from a flight instructor exclusively for you! To book a flight,  it’s here… 😉

Enjoy the flight and have fun!


(c) navigraph

4 thoughts on “SID & STAR: Departing well… and arriving safe!

  • Bravo, c’est très clair et bien résumé.
    Peut-être manque t-il seulement les critères de choix des SIDs et STARs.

    • Merci !

      Les choix des SIDs et STARs seront notamment déterminés par les pistes en service, le vent, le traffic, les conditions particulières, les normes de bruit, etc. C’est au contrôle aérien qu’il faut s’en remettre. Si vous faites de la simulation de vol sans utiliser d’ATC (IVAO, VATSIM…), vous pouvez choisir librement la piste (de préférence face au vent), et la procédure qui colle le mieux à votre route.

      • Exemple 1 : vous décollez de Charleroi pour rejoindre Londres, et le vent est plutôt de l’Ouest. Choisissez de préférence un décollage en piste 25 (face au vent) avec un départ vers Chièvres (direction logique) => la SID “CIV 3Y” est donc celle à suivre.
      • Exemple 2 : vous décollez d’Ibiza pour un vol vers Oostende, avec un vent du Nord-Est. Choisissez un décollage en 06 avec la SID “EPAMA 1F” pour être en adéquation avec le vent et votre destination.
      • Exemple 3 : vous approchez de Bruxelles en provenance du Sud. Le vent vient de l’Ouest et dans ce cas les atterrissage se font généralement en 25L (parfois en 25R aussi, sans ATC vous avez le choix bien sûr 😉 ). Vous privilégierez la STAR “LNO 4A” qui vous amènera sur la VOR de FLORA. A partir de là, c’est la procédure de l’ILS 25L que vous pourrez suivre en entrant par FLORA, votre point de raccordement avec la STAR.

      Voilà, j’espère que cela vous éclaire un peu.

      Bons vols !


  • Et bien voilà, vous avez apporté les précisions avec la même clarté, concision et transparence.


    Jean-Jacques SCOHY (projet de homecockpit).

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