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What is the meaning of "Raven" [phonetic] heard in use at Reagan National Airport? Most recently heard: The ATC will say "proceed direct raven" or "direct raven maintain" whatever altitude; or "direct raven; raven at 6,000." I've looked in every ATC/Pilot glossary I can find, but nothing. Have not heard at other airports, not even Dulles or BWI in the Washington metro area. A military pilot friend thinks it is an enroute, departure, approach or holding fix, which he says would be specific to one airport. Can anyone tell me exactly what we are hearing [an acronym?] and if this is the meaning?

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  • $\begingroup$ What value does the word "phonetic" add to this question? $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall May 24 at 3:54
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RAVNN (Pronounced Raven) is the name of a waypoint in Maryland. From the FAA Fixes / Waypoints directory

RAVNN MARYLAND BAL*C*174.00/22.98 OTT*C*070.89/12.17 ENO*C*250.66/53.40 DCA*D*106.56 38-48-15.9900N 076-31-04.9100W

38°48'15.9900N 76°31'04.9100W(Google Maps link) is east of Washington.

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    $\begingroup$ The nearby city of Baltimore has an American football team called the Ravens, so Raven is probably a waypoint somewhere in the Baltimore area. $\endgroup$ – GdD May 18 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ My favorite waypoints will always be ITAWT, ITAWA, PUDYE, TTATT, and the missed approach hold over IDEED. $\endgroup$ – Dean F. May 18 at 19:25
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RAVNN is a waypoint on the RAVNN6 STAR (page 1, page 2) for KBWI and surrounding airports, which is handled by Potomac Approach.

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Generally, the idea is that a waypoint has a five letter or six letter code that is

  • unique (within the region)
  • easy to remember
  • easy to pronounce as a word
  • hard to confuse

In this case, the code of the waypoint is RAVNN, but it is pronounced "raven", because that is much faster to say, much easier to remember, and just as easy to understand as "Romeo Alpha Victor November November". The idea is that even if you've never been to the area before and have never heard the waypoint pronounced before, when the controller says "raven", you can immediately understand that she is talking about RAVNN. Imagine, the controller says "Romeo Alpha Victor November November" and you are looking at your approach plate and then try to remember "Wait, was it Romeo Alpha at the beginning or Alpha Romeo?"

Additionally, when there is a standard approach using multiple waypoints, the waypoints are sometimes chosen in such a way that they "tell a story", e.g. using words from a well-known children's rhyme, poem, song, proverb, quote, Bible verse, etc.

For example, a fictional approach could go along waypoints QUOTH RAVNN NVMOR or HAMLT TOBEE ORNOT or something like that. WEEEE WLLLL NEVVR FORGT SEP11 is a real one that actually exists, going into Washington.

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