Is it possible for aircraft to transfer from low to high airways?

In the US, you must be flying below 18000 feet to be able to use a Victor airway, while you must be at FL180 or above to use a Jet airway.

If it is possible to do so on one flight plan, at which point would you switch over, and what altitude would you need to be at?

I've looked at various low and high altitude enroute charts, as well as FAA guides on using these, but they don't seem to really point this out.

  • $\begingroup$ Only interested in the FAA answer? Or should I bother typing an ICAO one as well? $\endgroup$ Jan 16 '15 at 6:33
  • $\begingroup$ @SentryRaven: primarily FAA, though I wouldn't mind an ICAO one either. $\endgroup$ Jan 16 '15 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ See if that answer helps you, too. If not, I'll probably remove it again... $\endgroup$ Jan 16 '15 at 7:47

The use of airways is, as you already specified, based on altitude/flight level. To be able to transition from higher airways to lower airways and vice versa, they need to intersect at NAVAIDs, such as fixes, VORs or NDBs. Where no restrictions are in place for the use of an airway, the flightplan can just contain the fix where the transition from lower to upper airway will take place. Let's take a look at this flightplan route from EGLL - London Heathrow to EDDG - Münster-Osnabrück:


Lower and upper airways in Europe are distinguished by prefixing the airway designator with a U for Upper. At the end of our flight to Münster, we intend to switch from UZ907 to Z907, because UZ907 does not connect KENUM to HMM. The flightplan routing validator at the CFMU understands that HMM is a STAR/transition entry point to Münster and therefore considers the airways altitude restrictions to be met during descent.

If this was not the case and we would like to use airways restricted to certain altitudes/flightlevels, we would need to indicate this in the flightplan. Example:

Airways Z1 can only be used between FL195 and 245, airways UZ2 can only be used above FL245. We want to file our flightplan with a step climb and a final cruise level of FL290:

With RFL290 entered into the validator, the flightplan would not be accepted, as Z1 is only available below FL245. The portion of the flightplan to be accepted would need to be:

[...] ABCDE/F230N0260 Z1 FGHIJ/F290N0270 UZ2 KLMNO [...]

In summary, you can switch between upper and lower airways, if you can meet the altitude/flightlevel restrictions and any other restriction bound to the airway.

ICAO flavored anwer added on request by question op, even though original question is tagged with FAA.

  • $\begingroup$ My understanding is FAA requirements are broadly similar: you change from a Victor airway to a Jet route at a common fix (navaid, intersection, etc.) - our routes aren't as finely divided as Europe's though, we basically only have Low-Altitude airways (Vxxx) below 18,000 feet and high-altitude jet routes (Jxxx) from 18,000 feet up. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 16 '15 at 17:23

Yes, this happens every day.

For example, airliners coming southbound on high altitude Jet routes to SFO will be given the POINT REYES ONE Arrival, and you can see below that the segment from Point Reyes to HADLY intersection overlies the low-altitude Victor airway V27:

enter image description here


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