Preparing and Delivering an IFR Clearance

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Things to check

When an aircraft has filed its flight plan, there are a number of things you should look at and check before passing the aircraft its clearance.

  • Destination Aerodrome - Check that this is a valid entry and it is where the pilot intends to fly to.
  • Flight Rules - Check the flight rules comply with the type of flight planned.
  • Requested Cruise Level - Check that the level complies with the semi circular rule.
  • Aircraft Type - This should be checked against what the pilot has told you he is flying, for vortex reasons and in case of an emergency. Also, some departure routes can only be flown by certain types of aircraft, so a quick check of the aircraft type will always help.
  • Departure Aerodrome - Ensure this is correct.
  • EOBT - Use this to plan ahead so that you can have a fair idea which aircraft will be requesting push back at certain times. It will help when it comes to creating an order for departure.
  • Route - Check that the route is valid. Note the first requested waypoint so that you can assign the correct SID.
  • Other Information - Check for any other information that may be important

  • Elements of a Clearance

    A Clearance shall include the following items:

  • Aircraft Identification
  • Clearance Limit
  • Route
  • Levels of flight and changes of levels
  • Squawk (If Applicable)

  • The following items may also be added:

  • ATFM Slots (Air Traffic Flow Management)
  • Communications instructions
  • Any special instructions
  • Clearance Limit

    A clearance limit is the point to which an aircraft is granted a clearance. This may be:

  • An aerodrome
  • A reporting Point
  • A Controlled or advisory airspace boundary
  • Route

    Controllers should endeavour to clear an aircraft according to the route requested. Sometimes this may not be possible, and the controller should explain the reason why when issuing the clearance. The expression "Cleared flight plan route" is not used in the UK.

    Allocation of cruising levels

    Normally, the cruising level in the Flight plan is to be allocated. If that level is not available, the nearest appropriate level should be allocated. In class C airspace (Airways) the semi-circular rule shall apply. Flight levels 200, 220, 240, 260 and 280 shall be westbound; Flight levels 210, 230, 250, and 270 shall be eastbound. Cruising levels at or above FL290 up to FL410 should comply with RVSM criteria.


    The 4-digit code the pilot sets his transponder so that controllers can identify him on radar. There are various schemes for allocating squawk codes, some quite complicated using different code ranges depending on outbound track, level, etc and there are ranges in certain countries reserved for military low-level, air ambulance, search and rescue, police operation etc. However, when controlling on IVAO in the UK division, the only requirement is that each aircraft is allocated a unique code (or at least unique in the surrounding airspace) so that it can be positively identified on radar. You may find that adjacent controllers always use the same range of codes (as in the real world) - so pick a range you will use and issue the first one to the first aircraft you clear and increment it for each subsequent aircraft. Remember that squawk codes are 4-digit octal numbers, so each digit can only be 0-7. Do not use any of the emergency codes (7500, 7600, 7700).

    Use of Cleared Waypoint

    In IvAc, you should make use of the cleared waypoint field to enter waypoints or any other important information related to that aircraft. By selecting the aircraft and pressing F5, the cleared waypoint dialog box will appear. Some examples of things to enter:

  • BPK6G (SID from Heathrow)
  • KELTY (VRP for EGPH)
  • LL (intention code for heathrow)

  • Whilst the aircraft is on your frequency on the ground, you can enter any information you wish. However, before handing over the aircraft to the area/approach controller, you must ensure that the intention code for the aircraft is entered into the cleared waypoint field.

    Use of Cleared Level

    In IvAc, you should make use of the cleared level field to indicate the last cleared level of an aircraft. By selecting the aircraft and pressing F8, the cleared level dialog box will appear. Some examples of things to enter:

  • 080 (Aircraft last cleared to FL80)
  • 330 (Aircraft last cleared to FL330)
  • 210 (Aircraft last cleared to FL210)

  • All controllers must make use of the Cleared Level to put in the initial level for an aircraft for its depature, this helps out both Approach/Area control to see what they are expected to climb to after takeoff. All the initial levels of the aircraft can be found on the quickviews for the airport your controlling at, they also can be found on the SID charts for the SID that you have assigned to them. Filling in this box helps adjacent controllers understand what level your aircraft is climbing or descending to. It should be updated promptly when an instruction is passed.