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September 25th, 2023
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Minneapolis Optimized Profile Descent Arrivals

Minneapolis Runway Configurations

Minneapolis-Saint Paul has four runways: 17-35, 4-22, 12L-30R, and 12R-30L. The two parallel runways, 12L-30R and 12R-30L are the two predominantly-used runways, with 17-35 serving a supporting role. Runway 4-22 is typically used only when winds disfavor other runway configurations, or when required for aircraft performance.

Introduction to Optimized Descent Profile STARs

RNAV Optimized Descent Profile Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (or OPD STARs) are the primary STARs into Minneapolis. They are:

  • BAINY, serving arrivals from the north,
  • TORGY, serving arrivals from the southwest and west,
  • NITZR, serving arrivals from the south,
  • BLUEM, serving arrivals from the south and southwest,
  • KKILR, serving arrivals from the east,
  • MUSCL, serving arrivals from the northeast and east.

Each OPD STAR flows aircraft onto downwind or base legs by means of transitions, named for the runways they serve. For example, the KKILR arrival has four transitions that serve 30L/R, 12L, 12R, and 35, respectively. In addition, each OPD STAR has a presumed landing runway & transition that pilots can determine based on the STAR and the landing flow direction at Minneapolis-Saint Paul:

  • BAINY, MUSCL: 30R, 12L
  • TORGY, KKILR: 30L, 12R
  • BLUEM, NITZR: 35 (if open), 30L, 12R

Please note that during events or other prolonged periods of increased traffic, your runway assignment and transition is subject to change.

Downwind Arrivals

Depending on the runway configuration, aircraft landing on 30L-12R or 30R-12L are placed on a downwind or base leg. Aircraft on the downwind portion of the STAR are expected to fly the assigned heading (as listed on the chart) unless otherwise assigned. Do not begin to turn on your own. Unless otherwise instructed, you have not been cleared for approach, and deviations from this rule frequently result in loss of separation.

Late Night Arrivals

Aircraft arriving KMSP after 2230L may be instructed to proceed direct to the KMSP airport and given a "pilot's discretion" clearance to descend and maintain 10,000 MSL. A good rule of thumb for descent planning purposes is to be at this altitude no later than 30NM from KMSP. These procedures are used only if traffic flow allows. Pilots should still file the proper STAR routing into KMSP regardless of their ETA.

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