FAA implemented the Q-Routes in 2003, at around the same time that the NGATS program (later renamed as NextGen) was initiated. Fourteen years later, the Q-Routes are still in use, yet FAA continues to pitch NextGen as if direct routes do not yet exist, but will if and when NextGen gets fully funded and finished.
We hear people like Shuster jabbering endlessly about ‘efficiency’ and the need for more direct routes. Also, FAA has pushed this graphic all over the place, which is more than disingenuous:
Here are the simple facts: Q-Routes are long, direct RNAV flight segments. Furthermore, direct routes have been in use for nearly 50-years, and the use of GPS for aviation direct routes has been happening for more than 20-years. So, frankly, the NextGen program offers no substantial improvement in direct routes; that is just a false sales pitch, improperly pushed by FAA.
A few of the articles/documents regarding Q-Routes are archived here, including:
- September 2009: Air Traffic Bulletin
- September 2003: Advisory Circular 90-99 (7p)
- July 2003: HAR Briefing for ATS Routes (11p)