STARs designated RNAV serve the same purpose as conventional STARs, but are only used by aircraft equipped with FMS or GPS. An RNAV STAR or STAR transition typically includes flyby waypoints, with flyover waypoints used only when operationally required. These waypoints may be assigned crossing altitudes and speeds to optimize the descent and deceleration profiles. RNAV STARs often are designed, coordinated, and approved by a joint effort between air carriers, commercial operators, and the ATC facilities that have jurisdiction for the affected airspace.

RNAV STAR procedure design, such as minimum leg length, maximum turn angles, obstacle assessment criteria, including widths of the primary and secondary areas, use the same design criteria as RNAV DPs. Likewise, RNAV STAR procedures are designated as either Type A or Type B, based on the aircraft navigation equipment required, flight crew procedures, and the process and criteria used to develop the STAR. The Type A or Type B designation appears in the notes on the chart. Type B STARs have higher equipment requirements and, often, tighter RNP tolerances than Type A. For Type B STARS, pilots are required to use a CDI/flight director, and/or autopilot in LNAV mode while operating on RNAV courses. (These requirements are detailed in Chapter 2 of this book, under “RNAV Departure Procedures.”) Type B STARs are generally designated for high-traffic areas. Controllers may clear you to use an RNAV STAR in various ways.

If your clearance simply states, “cleared Hadly One arrival,” you are to use the arrival for lateral routing only.

  • A clearance such as “cleared Hadly One arrival, descend and maintain flight level two four zero,” clears you to descend only to the assigned altitude, and you should maintain that altitude until cleared for further vertical navigation.
  • If you are cleared using the phrase “descend via,” the controller expects you to use the equipment for both lateral and vertical navigation, as published on the chart.
  • The controller may also clear you to use the arrival with specific exceptions—for example, “Descend via the Haris One arrival, except cross Bruno at one three thousand then maintain one zero thousand.” In this case, the pilot should track the arrival both laterally and vertically, descending so as to comply with all altitude and airspeed restrictions until reaching Bruno, and then maintain 10,000 feet until cleared by ATC to continue to descend.
  • Pilots might also be given direct routing to intercept a STAR and then use it for vertical navigation. For example, “proceed direct Mahem, descend via the Mahem Two arrival.”

[Figure 4-23 on page 4-24]

Figure 4-24 on page 4-25 depicts typical RNAV STAR leg (segment) types you can expect to see when flying these procedures.