What, if anything, does the phrase, "clear to maneuver" mean if given by an FAA airspace controller?

  • $\begingroup$ Is this from an airshow? $\endgroup$
    – Steve Kuo
    Apr 26 '16 at 2:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As far as I can tell, is not standard terminology, can you give context? Since is not standard, (and even if it was) you are more than welcome to ask the controller directly for clarification. In any case it doesn't relieve the pilot from "see and avoid". $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 26 '16 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ It seems Cleared to maneuver can be found in military / flight test ATC instructions. See bottom of page 9. Also mentioned here about Concorde accident in 2000, in an emergency context. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Apr 26 '16 at 8:29

That isn't standard FAA phraseology; at least, it isn't anywhere in the ATC orders. The closest thing is in section 9-2-20 on evasive action maneuvers. I know nothing about them, but they seem to be a military training thing:

(number of miles) EITHER SIDE OF CENTERLINE,
MAINTAIN (altitude) THROUGH (altitude),
COMPLETE MANEUVER AT (fix) AT (altitude)

But of course both pilots and controllers use non-standard phraseology all the time, especially for unusual situations. It's certainly possible that a controller somewhere has indeed said "cleared to maneuver as requested" or something similar. Although the 'correct' phraseology would be "approved as requested" (see section 2-1-18 of the orders) for a general request.

Another possibility is that it's military phraseology, not civilian. If you can link to a source or ATC recording then you might get a better answer.


It means, on the radar and from other information report available to the controller, it appears that no aircraft are in the way, and that the maneuver can be performed in time. No other aircraft appear to be coming in the area needed to perform the maneuver, in the time that the maneuver need to be performed. It also implies that the controller is aware and ready to respond in case of emergency.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Citation please. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Apr 26 '16 at 4:55

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