For anyone flying across the pond, AskaCFI.com has posted two queries regarding Q-routes: Can you use a Q-route below FL180? (written by Max Trescott) and a follow-up question entitled What the heck is a Q-route? (written by Paul Tocknell) that was asked by a reader who had read the first post. To address the second question, Paul backtracks and gives a useful backgrounder about the three types of airways found in the USA which are 1) VOR Federal airways, 2) Colored Federal Airways and 3) RNAV airways. As for RNAV airways, these types of airways have two types of routes: 1) Q-routes (high – 18,000 feet MSL and FL 450 inclusive) which are depicted on Enroute High Altitude Charts and 2) T-routes (low – 1,200 feet up to 17,999 feet MSL) which are depicted on Enroute Low Altitude Charts.
As Max explains it:
Q-routes and T-routes are relatively new types of airways defined by GPS waypoints and requiring an IFR-capable receiver. They were created to handle the increasing density of air traffic and to take advantage of the widespread availability of GPS.
Given their newness, Max had to do a bit of research and make a few calls to the FAA. The answer turned out to be a simple no unless you are flying at FL180 (apparently Q-routes aren’t supposed to be on low altitude charts and will likely disappear from future charts).
[And in case you are wondering how useful this information really is, a reader named Jeffrey posted a comment saying: “That sounds like a question a sneaky DE could throw out there during an IFR check ride to see how “much” you really know!”]