Author Topic: ATC Phraseology - Resume Own Nav vs. On Course - implied altitude component?  (Read 42542 times)

Offline CH2Tdriver

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I have a question about what are the differences between the ATC phraseology "On Course <destination>" and "Resume Own Navigation" (or "Own Nav <destination>").
Namely I'd like to know that if either implies an altitude component or restriction?

Here was the situation this past weekend.  My student and I departed from the primary airport within the Class C and checked in with departure for radar vectors.  We were on runway heading (240) and as per the initial clearance limited to 2000', where 2500 was requested.  Our destination airport for touch and goes was due east (090 heading).  We were given a 180 heading to clear the departure path of 24 which is typical but not turned easterly till a bit south of the field, again typical.  We were told to maintain 2000' which my student confirmed.

After a bit the controller stated:
"40X...on course Gabreski"  ( again typical but sometimes stated "40X Proceed on course Gabreski")
At that point my student began a left turn to 090, but happened to reply with what popped into his head which was "40X....own NAV Gabreski"

The controller then came back with "40X Negative....I didn't say own nav, on course Gabreski."  "I have traffic above you at 2500 that you have to get by first."

I'd like a clarification on the terms.  We never mentioned an altitude change and remained at 2000' until cleared higher later.  Does "Own Nav" imply "altitude your discretion"?

I checked the FAA pilot/controller glossary but it was inconclusive:

a. Used to indicate that an aircraft is established on the route centerline.
b. Used by ATC to advise a pilot making a radar approach that his/her aircraft is lined up on the final approach course.

RESUME OWN NAVIGATION- Used by ATC to advise a pilot to resume his/her own navigational responsibility. It is issued after completion of a radar vector or when radar contact is lost while the aircraft is being radar vectored.

Offline davolijj

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I don't really understand what the controller was yelling about.  The phrase "Resume own navigation" only refers to lateral course guidance and has nothing to do with altitude.  The phraseology for Class C service regarding altitude is very clear:

Quote from: 7110.65 Chapter 7, Section 8. Class C Service- Terminal

a. When necessary to assign altitudes to VFR aircraft, assign altitudes that meet the MVA, MSA, or minimum IFR altitude criteria.

b. Aircraft assigned altitudes which are contrary to 14 CFR Section 91.159 shall be advised to resume altitudes appropriate for the direction of flight when the altitude is no longer needed for separation, when leaving the outer area, or when terminating Class C service.


You got it right CH2Tdriver.  You just keep that old P/CG close by and you will not go wrong.

Offline sykocus

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The definitions you cite for "on course" are unclear because it's not a command or clearance it's a statement of ones positon.  I always use either "procede on course" or "cleared on course". Secondly, to address your question, does not imply altitude clearance. If you look up "course" in the PCG you get:


a. The intended direction of flight in the horizontal plane measured in degrees from north.

My emphasis added.

The definition for "resume own navigation" is a little bit more ambiguous, but i've only used it for lateral course guidance. As always it's best to clarify if unsure. I use "resume own navigation" for an aircraft that isn't going direct somewhere ( e.g. doing airwork, on a sightseeing tour, etc.) and follow it up with an altitude instruction.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 10:43:14 PM by sykocus »

Offline StuSEL

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You should contact the facility and ask them to review the tapes. Better yet, ask to meet with the controller and discuss it together. That's a serious issue if he is indeed confusing altitude assignment phraseology with lateral guidance phraseology.

Offline Jason

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I don't know why the controller gave your student a hard time, they are basically the same thing. I usually restate the altitude restriction as a reminder to the controller in case crossing traffic has passed and can permit a climb to requested VFR altitude. For example, "on course to Gabreski, maintain 2000, 40X."

Offline CH2Tdriver

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Thanks for the responses everyone.  In the Class C around here they usually truncate to "own nav" or "on course" with the destination after it, usually after they are done with radar vectors and they really don't know your exact course to where you are going.

My student is getting over his 'mic fright' very well finally, but this took us both by surprise.  He just happened to use what was in his head but knew to turn on course.  I promised him I'd research it to get to the bottom of it.


Offline hayek

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Had a similar issue come up recently.  I discovered that there is a difference of opinion about this within the FAA.
Four operations inspectors based at a local FSDO office were given this scenario and were queried as to their opinion regarding the meaning of "Resume Own Navigation."  Unanimously, all four inspectors felt that "Resume Own Navigation" allowed the pilot to determine their own appropriate VFR altitude.  Speaking to air traffic controllers, however, yielded an opposing view.  Their position is that an altitude restriction is valid until canceled verbally by them.