"Direct Clearance" and /u

KidToby

New Member
I'm working on my IR and have a few questions about accepting a direct clearance while flying /u. Do I need to refuse the clearance if I'm on vectors, not on a published route and hear "cleared direct xyz VOR maintain 9000". Technically, if within the service volume of the VOR I can find out what radial of the VOR I'm on and track it inbound; I'm just not sure if it's legal to be off airway using only VORs for situational awareness and not receiving vectors.

This happened on an XC; I replied "N123 is /u," then requested and received vectors to the VOR.

Thanks in advance for the help.
-T
 

pwttogfk

Well-Known Member
If you have received and identified the VOR and are using it for navigation, I see no problem with proceeding direct. I get clearances like that all the time, in fact--if I want to do a full-procedure VOR approach at OLM, rather than get me on an airway for the short flight from my home base at PWT I'll usually be told to proceed direct OLM, report outbound for the DME arc.
 

Juliet Lima

New Member
a direct clearance, /u or not, is a legal clearance. as long as you are within the usable distance of the signal for your present altitude. the second it becomes no longer legal is if/when you say you are unable direct. you may then get something like, "fly heading 230 vector for XYZ, when able proceed direct."
 

matt152

Well-Known Member
A couple of times I have been flying /U and was given a direct clearance to a VOR out of reception range. I had a VFR GPS onboard. Although I could not officially use it for navigation IFR navigation, I asked ATC for vectors to the VOR to be legal. And then I used the GPS (while technically being on a 100 mile vector) until the VOR was in range.
 

Juliet Lima

New Member
i had an eclipse jet, notorious for being /W and having no equipment capabilities yet filing direct BQU off of Reno. i cleared him direct BQU, rest of route unchanged (eventually to somewhere a few time zones east) and he came back with i'm unable direct BQU. i asked why he was unable if he filed it. i then asked his new requested route. he said he wanted a vector for BQU. really? and how do u suppose I vector u 7 states east of my airspace, when i can't even see it on my radar. i did have the capability if the fix was adopted, which it was, but still besides the point. he couldn't come up with a good route so i cleared him via a Jet route that was not necessarily on his way. he was so ticked. i'm not sure why. if your not able to fly something then don't file it.

this could be vaguely applied to the /u guys. u should initially file something you and your airplane is capable of flying. if the controller then pulls you off that route for something more direct and provides vectors and radar monitoring (and u accept it) then so be it. it all starts though with a good filed route.

sorry this was a little off-topic of the original /u question.
 

sopdan

Well-Known Member
When they turned the FMS back on in our planes, it was a while before all pilots were trained on it. Near the end of the cycle when most flights were filed /G, controllers would sometimes clear a /A flight (both pilots needed to be FMS qualified to file /G) direct to a fix/VOR.

We'd just say we were unable and ask for a heading. They'd give a heading along with "direct when able"...

We never used the FMS while filed /A. ;)
 

KidToby

New Member
I only file /u routes though I definitely appreciate it when controllers give me vector shortcuts. Long trips over Nebraska and Colorado pretty much go as filed; I don't get too many tricky clearances. I just want to be sure I'm flying legally when they drop me back onto my own nav.
 

tgrayson

New Member
I'm just not sure if it's legal to be off airway using only VORs for situational awareness and not receiving vectors.
There's no law that says you must be within the service volume of a navaid to use it for navigation. The only restriction is in the AIM, which says that ATC will not approve direct routes in a non-radar environment when the route is outside the published service volumes. As long as you're in radar coverage, you can file routes outside the published service volumes.

However, as one of the controllers noted above, if you file it, you'd better be able to fly it. Very embarrassing to tell a controller "unable direct" when that's what you filed. Conceivably, it could lead to a violation in the wrong sort of situation.

Also, if the controller initiates the direct, he's supposed to vector you until you're within the published service volume, whereup he'll say "resume own nav."
 
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