Sometimes it's very tricky as those identifiers are not normal words. For example how to find a way-point you have to go direct to if it's not on the flight plan? SID and STARS can be reviewed before clearance but some airports have a very big list.

Can anybody give any good advice on this? How do you deal with this situation?


2 Answers 2


The naming is simple, from ICAO Annex 11:

2.1.2 The basic indicator shall be the name or name-code of the significant point where a standard departure route terminates or a standard arrival route begins.

So check where your route terminates/begins. I'm suspecting you are asking in the context of flight simulation, because otherwise you can look up the preferred routes of your area of flight. They are usually published.

If that's the case, you need a charts subscription, and to view the page where all the departures or arrivals are charted on one page (there is usually one for airports with many procedures). And check which direction you are coming from / going to, this will make it much easier. Example below is from VATSIM Germany (in this case the charts are free).

Alternatively, based on the wind pick a departure/landing runway, and see which procedures include that runway, that will narrow it down nicely. The same is true when you listen to the ATIS. So when the ATC says it, you will have a narrow list to look at and match.

You can always ask the ATC to spell it out in phonetic alphabet as well.

Say again waypoint/procedure in phonetic alphabet.

And as @Terry explains here, if all the communications are in a language(s) you speak, it will help you anticipate what the ATC will ask you to do.

For example, if two airplanes preceding you are being rerouted for some reason, [you will be] prepared for the reroute when it comes through to you.

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    $\begingroup$ Your last point I think is the most important; don't guess, just ask! ATC shouldn't be expecting you to navigate to a random point that isn't on your expected clearance anyway. At least not without spelling it out. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Jan 22, 2018 at 17:15

You can't, there is no system to them (at least no globally consistent system, airports may have a system for their own STARs and SIDs, and some countries for numbering airways, but nothing worldwide).

What is common (but afaik no law/treaty) is for STARs and SIDs to be named after the entry/exit waypoint, which can help predict which you're likely to get based on the direction you're departing or arriving.

E.g. at Amsterdam all the LEKKO departures end at waypoint LEKKO, all ARNEM departures end at ARNEM (which just happens to be situated over the city of Arnhem, but there's no international standard there either).

Some waypoints or navaids (see above) may in some more or less obscure way refer to their location as well. For example Chattanooga, TN has a VOR called Choo Choo.

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    $\begingroup$ It is common, but I heard it is now discouraged for new waypoints by EUROCONTROL. As far as I know no new waypoints in recent years created in our country are named that way although the old ones were. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2018 at 15:57

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