Enroute ATC: How to Request Direct to a Point

Cutting a corner by requesting direct to a point further along your route of flight could save time and fuel. An enroute air traffic controller will try to honor your request if circumstances permit. First and foremost it pays to know how to make a request direct to a point. We’ll discuss all the particulars of requesting direct in this edition of the IFR Flight Radio Show.


Show Resources:

AIM 4−4−4. Amended Clearances

c. Pilots have the privilege of requesting a different clearance from that which has been issued by ATC if they feel that they have information which would make another course of action more practicable or if aircraft equipment limitations or company procedures forbid compliance with the clearance issued.

AIM 5−1−8. Flight Plan (FAA Form 7233−1)− Domestic IFR Flights

c. Direct Flights

4. Increasing use of self-contained airborne navigational systems which do not rely on the VOR/VORTAC/TACAN system has resulted in pilot requests for direct routes which exceed NAVAID service volume limits. These direct route requests will be approved only in a radar environment, with approval based on pilot responsibility for navigation on the authorized direct route.

J.O. 7110.65V Air Traffic Control**

3. Issue a clearance “direct” to a point on the previously issued route.
CLEARED DIRECT (fix,waypoint).

Clearances authorizing “direct” to a point on a previously issued route do not require the phrase “rest of route unchanged.” However, it must be understood where the previously cleared route is resumed. When necessary, “rest of route unchanged” may be used to clarify routing.

**(The reference manual for air traffic controllers. Pilots are not required to know the contents of this manual.)

Check out the Headset Buyer’s Guide at ATCcommunication.com for help choosing an aviation radio headset.

Your Question of the Week:

You are flying at your filed cruise altitude on a Victor Airway 159 inbound to the Ocala Vortac in North Central Florida. After crossing over the top of Ocala, your cleared route of flight has you making a 46-degree turn to the right to continue on Victor 441 to the Gainesville VORTAC*. With 30 miles to go to the Ocala VORTAC, you decide you’d like to save time and fuel by proceeding direct Gainesville.

Checking your enroute chart (see the chart segment above), given your present position, even if you cut the corner and proceed direct right now, your new route of flight will keep you well clear of the Palatka MOAs northeast of your position.

You get on the radio and say to Jacksonville Center, “Skyhawk 30 Delta requests direct Gainesville*.” The controller replies, “Skyhawk 30 Delta, I have your request.”

Four minutes pass. The controller has said nothing further to you about your request to proceed direct Gainesville*. Instead, he says, “Skyhawk 30 Delta, contact Jacksonville Center on 127.8.” Here are your questions.

First, why do you think the controller never approved your request? Second, will you have to make the same request of your next controller, or will he have your request in his todo list when you check in.

I’ll have the answers along with complete explanations in your next show.


In this week’s question, I incorrectly identify the Gators VORTAC as the Gainesville VORTAC. I graduated from the University of Florida at Gainesville, so one of two things is true. Either my education was inadequate, or I recalled the name of the VORTAC as it was _____ years ago when I attended college.

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