I-3 Rating



Introduction to TEC routes, KSNA to KBUR for the ILS RWY 8 approach

Learning objectives

  • Intercept and track VOR radial
  • Be able to handle more complex IFR clearances involving multiple airways and VORs
  • Learn to interpret Victor airways on low enroute chart

Flying the Rating

To successfully complete this rating you must accomplish the following tasks:

  • File IFR flight plan from KSNA to KBUR using the route provided below
  • Obtain your clearance via voice and without using Datalink (DCL).
  • Fly IFR from KSNA to KBUR, requesting vectors to the ILS RWY 8 approach
  • Inform ATC on initial contact at KSNA that you are performing the I-3 Rating
  • Meet the I Ratings Practical Test Standards

Rating Description

“Tower Enroute Control” (TEC) routes provide pre-approved routes and altitudes within adjoining terminal areas.

From from KSNA to Burbank (KBUR) using the following TEC route:
Pistons or turboprops slower than 190kts: SLI V23 POPPR SMO125R SMO SMO311R SILEX, at 4000 or
Turboprops faster than 190kts or any turbojet: SLI V23 LAX LAX316R SILEX at 6000.

Pilots will request the ILS RWY 8 approach at Burbank. If the weather doesn’t safely permit the use of runway 8, pilot should consider using custom weather for the scenario to permit the use of runway 8.

The routes above contain both VORs and radials off those VORs. For example, “POPPR SMO125R SMO SMO311R SILEX” means you would fly to POPPR, then the SMO 125 radial inbound to SMO, then the SMO 311 radial to SILEX intersection.

NOTE: Be prepared for a shortcut onto the SMO 125 radial after the initial vectors as this is a common vectoring pattern for aircraft on this route. Shortcuts are an everyday occurrence in the IFR environment. While your GPS may be programmed to fly the route end to end, are you ready to intercept a segment midway between two points? Advanced GPS users can utilize the Activate Leg feature for POPPR to SMO, however, unless you’re intimately familiar with such a technique, the safest bet would be to tune and join the radial. Keep in mind the very first stated objective of the rating is to learn how to intercept and track radials.

What’s TEC?

Within the national airspace system it is possible for a pilot to fly IFR from one point to another without leaving approach control airspace. This is referred to as ‘Tower Enroute Control’ or ‘TEC’ which allows flight beneath the enroute structure. The TEC concept has been expanded (where practical) by reallocating airspace vertically/geographically to allow flight planning between city pairs while remaining within approach control airspace. Pilots are encouraged to use the TEC routes and when filing flight plans within SoCal.

Other airways which appear to be more direct between two points may take the aircraft out of approach control airspace, or interfere with other traffic flows thereby resulting in additional delays or other complications.

Don’t let the name fool you, though, the “tower” in “Tower Enroute Control” does NOT mean you’ll only be talking to towers along the route of flight. In fact, you can actually pick up TEC clearances from non-towered airports.

How’s it different to normal IFR?

Don’t have to file in advance: In Socal, at least, you can pick up an IFR clearance for a TEC route without filing a flight plan. Since they are ‘canned’ routes, they can be issued very quickly, without much effort. Much thought has been put into the TEC route system such that, to the extent possible, it avoids, goes above/below the traffic flows in and out of surrounding airports.

That said, since online controllers often have to wear many hats (working clearance, ground, tower, approach and center simultaneously), we still recommend filing a flight plan using the published TEC route to avoid placing undue burden on the controllers if you sense the controller are already very busy. During quieter times, feel free to call up and ask for ‘tower enroute’ to your destination without filing. For the purpose of this rating, though, we do require that you file an IFR flight plan, mostly to validate that you are aware of the correct route ahead of time.

Stayin’ low: TEC routes sometimes involve flying at altitudes lower than would otherwise normally be selected, particularly for higher performance jets. This is necessary to keep the planes within the approach controller’s airspace, the ceiling for which is well below that of a fast moving jet. It’s less of an issue for slower moving piston aircraft.

The routes in this rating are the CSTP2 and CSTP1 TEC routes, respectively, and can be found in the FAA preferred route database or MyFlightRoute.com.

Even though the correct routes are being provided as part of this rating, pilots are encouraged to study TEC routes as part of this flight as a thorough understanding of TEC routes will be required for the next rating.


Required Materials

  • SNA Airport Facility Diagram
  • Low enroute chart depicting route to be flown (skyvector.com)
  • KBUR ILS RWY 8 approach plate
  • KBUR Airport Facility Diagram

Related Materials

PilotEdge Workshop: IFR Flight Planning and TEC Routes