Performance Based Navigation (PBN)

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Climb/Descend Via and Speed Adjustment Clearances

Updated Feb. 16, 2015

On April 3, 2014, the FAA began using "climb via" phraseology for route transitions and/or the assignment of standard instrument departure (SID) and area navigation (RNAV) SID procedures containing speed and altitude restrictions.

Background Information

FAA ATC will implement “climb via” phraseology and procedures for departure operations consistent with existing “descend via” phraseology and procedures in FAA Order 7110.65U. Diligent adherence to these procedures on the part of aircrews is critical and non-compliance can easily result in pilot deviations being filed by the FAA.

Concurrently, the FAA will amend speed assignment and termination phraseologies. Both “climb via” and “descend via” have been added to the Pilot/Controller Glossary. Other than implementing use of “climb via” there is no change in altitude clearance procedures.

Application of Climb Via/Descend Via to SIDs/STARs

“Climb via” and “descend via” are abbreviated ATC clearances that require compliance with the procedure's lateral path, associated speed restrictions, and altitude restrictions published on the SID or STAR. The “top altitude” of the SID is the published or ATC assigned altitude limit until cleared to climb higher by ATC. Likewise, the “bottom altitude” on a STAR or STAR runway transition is the lowest published or ATC assigned altitude authorized and is not to be mistaken for the minimum en route altitude (MEA). If ATC intervenes with the aircraft’s lateral or vertical navigation while on a SID or STAR, “climb via”/“descend via” may be used to instruct the aircraft to resume/rejoin the procedure’s lateral path and to resume the climb/descent to comply with all published altitude and speed restrictions.

Published Speed Restrictions On a SID or STAR Are Always Mandatory

Published speed restrictions on a SID or STAR must be complied with regardless of the use of “climb/descend via” clearance. A “climb via” or “descend via” clearance cancels a previously assigned ATC speed restriction and all subsequent published speeds are mandatory. However, ATC may re-issue speed adjustments with a “climb via” or “descend via” clearance if required.

Important Requirements

  • Pilots are required to respond to climb or descend via clearances by repeating the "climb/descend via" clearance verbatim. Abbreviated read backs will result in controllers repeating instructions until pilots give verbatim read back of the clearance
  • When subsequently changing frequency pilots must advise ATC on initial contact of current altitude, “climbing via/descending via” with the procedure name, and runway transitions if assigned.
  • If issued an altitude or speed not contained on the procedure, advise ATC of restrictions issued by the previous controller
  • It cannot be over emphasized that pilot use of the complete, correct phraseology is imperative. Phrases such as "on the" or "descending on" a procedure are not acceptable and can create additional ATC workload to verify the clearance that was issued to the pilot by the previous controller.

NBAA Climb Via Tutorial

The NBAA Access Committee has prepared a detailed tutorial on "climb/descend via" and speed restrictions.

Download the NBAA Pilot Briefing: Climb Via, Descend Via, Speed Adjustments Rev. 2.01 (24 MB, PowerPoint Slide Show)

Download the NBAA Pilot Briefing: Climb Via, Descend Via, Speed Adjustments Rev. 2.01 (24 MB, PowerPoint) - view this file in "Slide Show" mode

Download the NBAA Pilot Briefing: Climb Via, Descend Via, Speed Adjustments Rev. 2.01 (14.8 MB, PDF) - recommended for iPad viewing

NBAA Pilot Briefing Change Summary: Revision 2.00 to 2.01 (609 KB, PDF)

Climb Via News

Amended Altitude Clearance Affecting Aircraft Arriving San Francisco (KSFO) DYAMD Two STAR (RNAV)
Dec. 13, 2015
From Monday, Dec. 14 at 0700 local (1500Z) to Friday, Dec. 18 at 2200 local (0600z/19), ATC will assign an amended altitude with the Descend Via clearance for aircraft arriving via the DYAMD Two STAR (RNAV) into San Francisco. Oakland ARTCC and NorCal TRACON are conducting this week-long trial to determine if using a Descend Via clearance with an amended bottom altitude addresses crew non-compliance with the NOTAM and does not introduce other issues on the arrival. NBAA is providing a briefing document to assist pilots in understanding this trial. Learn more.

NBAA Urges Adherence to Proper 'Climb Via' Phraseology
Dec. 24, 2014
NBAA continues working with industry leaders and the FAA to help flight crews and controllers comply with new phraseology requirements aimed at creating a common reference to lateral and vertical navigation during departure or arrival. The new phraseology was put in place "to emphasize that you need to look at the departure or arrival plate and comply with vertical, lateral and speed restrictions," said Rich Boll, chairman of the NBAA Airspace, Air Traffic Control and Flight Technologies Working Group. However, air traffic control has interpreted the new procedures to include top or final altitudes as crossing constraints, making every SID eligible for "climb via" phraseology. "That dilutes the effectiveness of climb via and has caused some confusion among flight crews as well," Boll said. Read more about the use of climb via.

A Look at 'Climb Via' After Six Months in Use
Sept. 29, 2014
Those familiar with the new departure clearance phrase "climb via" say it continues to cause confusion among flight crews and air traffic controllers. "Only 5, maybe 10 percent of pilots are using the appropriate climb via phraseology," said Rich Boll, who chairs the Airspace, ATC and Flight Technologies Working Group of the NBAA Access Committee. Climb via clearances are based on SID procedures and were first used on air traffic control frequencies on April 3. When receiving such a clearance, flight crews are supposed to comply with lateral, vertical and speed restrictions published in the SID. Those provisions are designed to increase the efficiency of communications between ATC and flight crews. Learn more about the use of climb via phraseology, or hear a NBAA Flight Plan podcast on the challenges surrounding climb via.

NBAA 'Climb Via' Training Presentation Addresses Upcoming Phraseology Changes
Feb. 24, 2014
The NBAA Access Committee recently developed an extensive training presentation to foster better understanding of the new "climb via" and "descend via" instructions that will go into effect on April 3. "We came within 48 hours of implementing climb via back in August 2012," said NBAA Access Committee member Rich Boll. "However, there was a high level of misunderstanding throughout the industry about the process – particularly about speed adjustments, and how pilots would react to changing speed clearances – that needed to be addressed before the process could go live." Following extensive consultation with the FAA's Performance-Based Navigation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PARC), on which the NBAA Access Committee participated, the agency issued revised guidance that will go into effect this spring. Learn more about the coming changes.

FAA Notices and Information On New Procedures


For more information on “climb/descend via" or the associated guidance materials, please email Questions will be referred to the appropriate FAA office, and answers will be posted on the Climb/Descend Via and Speed Adjustment Clearances FAQ page.