Approach Fix name origins



Can anyone tell me how names are chosen for approach fixes?
What are the rules? Short, semi-pronounceable, memorable?
Just curious. Many thanks,



I’m not sure, but they sometimes have a link to something nearby. For instance, ours is SURFF (our town is home of the world famous Surf Ballroom). Minneapolis has the TWOLF arrival (home of the Minnesota Timberwolves). One near my hometown was CESAR, and is located over the small community of Caesar.


At PDX- They have names like TRAIL and BLAZR landing east.

On the West landings they use to have a NDB named LAKER (as the Lakers are the Trailblazers west cost rivals) but its gone now


I was gonna mention the TRAIL and BLAZER on the appraoch into PDX.

They also have DUCKS into eugene, and BEAVS into corvalis.

from what i can discern they often DO have to do with local geography. there are many intersections in my area that are named after the town the are over. Shedd, Vaughn.


semi pronounceable, 5 letters & it usually relates geographically or anecdotally.

I can’t remember where but I always fly the approach at recurrent in the sim.
The fixes when pronunced as you get closer in are, eeny meeny miny mo.

Salt lake as an arrival with a golf theme, bogey, puttr etc…


Yes and no…

I have absolutely no idea what LIMMA, JETSA, ALISN, HUNDA, GAATE, RIIVR, SEAVU, FUELR, PALAC, EXERT, TANDY, or PURMS mean, but all of them are the IAFs for ILS 24R, 25L, 6L, and 7R at LAX.

LAS is worse: PRINO, LARRE, HETAX, DICSA, GRNPA. The first 2 are IAFs for ILS 25L, the third and fourth for ILS 1L, and GRNPA is the main portion of the STAR for 19L/R.

However, some are definitely anecdotally. CEASR, HITME, VEEVA, LEMNZ, JOKKR, AACES, WYLDD, LUXOR, POKKR, HOLDM. Some Geographically: HOOVR, MEADS, SUNST, Some for the people who lived there: SISKL, EBBRT, TYSSN… take a guess. HOOVR, MEADS… the Dam. NAVHO, Given for the area.

Then there are a lot that you just can’t explain. However… if you ever fly in ZLA, question the controller who asks you to enter a hold over the MORON intersection. Yes, it does exist. :wink:


Some make sense, and some absolutely don’t.


Orlando has a couple Disney characters nearby.

#8 … r0303.html

I get the bragging rights that I have one named after me (above ground James!)


side note to Davy, I was up in Mason City about 4 years ago for son’s hockey game. Being the Buddy Holly fan that I am, I had to go see the Surf and crashsite…on my drive to locate the site, I went a little to far north…but as I was searching…a V35 came flying SE towards KMCW probably about 1000 AGL. It was real early in the morning at it was the only other human activity I saw. It was kinda a weird feeling to see a Bonanza flying low when I was going to find the crash site.

My favorite names are arrivals in STL such as BLUES and CARDS



I love the KPSM GPS 16 Approach

And then if you go missed, you fly to IDEED!


Now that is a winner!


A lot of them are the 5 letter versions of the names used before FMS data bases came into being.

At LAX Lima, now LIMMA, used to be the Outer Marker for 25L while ROMEO used to be the 24R OM. In the good old days the compass locators at the markers were Morse Coded L and R. get it? L meant you were on the left and R meant you were on the right. I don’t know why ROMEO was renamed JETSA. The old Jet Strip was closer to 25L :wink:
FUELR used to be FUELER, DOWNE is near the city of DOWNEY etc.

At West Palm Beach there is the BUFIT departure headed down toward the keys with BUFIT, JIMEY, and DONLD intersections. If you depart the other direction you pass over TRMMP, IVNKA and AMNDA on the IVNKA departure.

Similarly the three letter airport codes usually make sense. But once in a while you get something like GEG for Spokane, Wa.
I’m not sure of the spelling but it used to be known as Geiger Field.


Along the same lines when the FAA decided that VOR’s more than 5 miles from the airport had to be renamed the RENO VOR became MUSTANG. I think there must be a horse ranch, or something, around there. I dunno.


This could explain FMN vs. KFMN (though I think that has to do with FMN vs. FAM). But it doesn’t explain KABQ vs. ABQ. ABQ is 10 miles from the airport, yet it is named the Albuquerque VOR.

Same thing with SMF. The SAC VOR is 15 miles from Int’l, though it is named the Sacramento VOR.



Good points. Is ABQ within 5 miles of Double Eagle? SAC is within 5 miles of the SAC airport (executive).


If I understand this correctly, leave it to the gubment to round up?


FMN is now rattlesnake-RSK
SLC is now wasatch-TCH
MOU vor is now liberator-LIA AND the reason was to change the identifier not so much the name. This was due to a number or errors and accidents when everyone started using GPS and confusing the direct airport distance with the vor dme distances.


FMN was renamed to RSK to not confuse pilots with the FAM VOR (both were pronounced “Farmington”).

SLC is now wasatch-TCH

MOU vor is now liberator-LIA AND the reason was to change the identifier not so much the name. This was due to a number or errors and accidents when everyone started using GPS and confusing the direct airport distance with the vor dme distances.

I think this was also the reason for the SLC-TCH change.

And yes, SAC is 5nm from KSAC. However, a bit further east, KOMA and OVR may have different LIDs, but are both pronounced “Omaha”.



I think they use the names of dead aliens found at Roswell, NM in 1947.


The letter “K” is the ICAO identifier which precedes the3-letter identifier for airports in the lower 48 United States. “P” is the identifier for Alaska. “R” for airports in Japan. “E” for airports in England…and on and on.

That allows the flight plan to distinguish between a navaid/intersection and an airport.