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7 Things Every Pilot Should Know About Victor Airways

This story was made in partnership with ATP Flight School. Check out the full series here. Ready to become a pilot? Get started with ATP here.

GPS direct is great, but Victor airways are still very common, especially under IFR...

1) What does the "V" stand for?

The V stands for VOR or "victor" airway, which is a lot shorter than "very high frequency omnidirectional range airway"...


2) Where will I find them?

Victor airways are found on VFR sectional charts and low altitude IFR enroute charts. The airways extend from 1,200' AGL up to, but not including, FL180.


3) Airway width

The width is 4NM either side of course (8NM total width) along a victor airway.


4) Changeover points

The point on a victor airway where you switch from one NAVAID to the next is called a changeover point. If there isn't one published, you can take half of the total distance between the NAVAIDs and consider that as your changeover point.


5) Primary obstacle protection

This route protection is based on a +/- 4.5 degree angle from each NAVAID on an airway. Where these lines intersect is approximately 51NM between the two courses and is usually intended to be the location of the changeover point. This obstacle protection areas give you 1,000' clearance in non-mountainous and 2,000' clearance in mountainous terrain.


6) Secondary obstacle protection

If the distance is greater than 51 nm between NAVAIDs and changeover points, than a secondary obstacle protection must be put in place. This is a +/- 6.7 degree angle from the same NAVAIDs determining the primary obstacle protection and they intersect at the same location as the changeover point. This adds an additional 2NM either side of course for greater protection.


7) Obstacle protection flare

This occurs when the distance between two NAVAIDs is greater than 102 NM, and the changeover point is located in the middle. The obstacle protection flare will be located at the changeover point, and it extends beyond the normal 8NM and 12NM course width protection area.


What else should pilots know about Victor airways? Tell us in the comments below.

Thinking about becoming a pilot? Get started with ATP Flight School, and find out how to start your aviation career here.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Airbus 320 First Officer for a U.S. Major Carrier. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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