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Notes from the Instrument Procedures Handbook – Departure Procedures

FAA-H-8083-16 Instrument Procedures Handbook
Chapter 1 Departures

Instrument departure procedures are preplanned IFR procedures that provide obstruction clearance from the terminal area to the appropriate en route structure. Primarily, these procedures are designed to provide obstacle protection for departing aircraft. There are two types of Departure Procedures (DPs): Obstacle Departure Procedures (ODPs) and Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs).

If an aircraft may turn in any direction from a runway within the limits of the assessment area and remain clear of obstacles that runway passes what is called a diverse departure assessment, and no ODP is published. A diverse departure assessment ensures that a prescribed, expanding amount of required obstacle clearance (ROC) is achieved during the climb-out until the aircraft can obtain a minimum 1,000 feet ROC in non-mountainous areas or a minimum 2,000 feet ROC in mountainous areas. Unless specified otherwise, required obstacle clearance for all departures, including diverse, is based on the pilot crossing the departure end of the runway (DER) at least 35 feet above the DER elevation, climbing to 400 feet above the DER elevation before making the initial turn, and maintaining a minimum climb gradient of 200 feet per nautical mile (FPNM), unless required to level off by a crossing restriction until the minimum IFR altitude is reached.

All departure procedures are initially assessed for obstacle clearance based on a 40:1 Obstacle Clearance Surface (OCS). If no obstacles penetrate this 40:1 OCS, the standard 200 FPNM climb gradient provides a minimum of 48 FPNM of clearance above objects that do not penetrate the slope.

Low, Close-In Obstacles
Obstacles that are located within 1 NM of the DER and penetrate the 40:1 OCS are referred to as “low, close-in obstacles” and are also included in the TPP. These obstacles are less than 200 feet above the DER elevation, within 1 NM of the runway end, and do not require increased takeoff minimums. The standard rate-of-climb to clear these obstacles would require a climb gradient greater than 200 FPNM for a very short distance, only until the aircraft was 200 feet above the DER. To eliminate publishing an excessive climb gradient, the obstacle above ground level (AGL)/ MSL height and location relative to the DER is noted in the Takeoff Minimums and (Obstacle) Departure Procedures section of a given TPP booklet.

Obstacle Departure Procedures (ODPs)
The term ODP is used to define procedures that simply provide obstacle clearance. ODPs are only used for obstruction clearance and do not include ATC related climb requirements. In fact, the primary emphasis of ODP design is to use the least restrictive route of flight to the en route structure or to facilitate a climb to an altitude that allows random (diverse) IFR flight, while attempting to accommodate typical departure routes.

ODPs are textual in nature. However, due to the complex nature of some procedures, a visual presentation may be given. If the ODP is charted graphically, the chart itself includes the word “Obstacle” in parentheses in the title. Additionally, all newly-developed RNAV ODPs are issued in graphical form.

Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs)
A SID is an ATC-requested and developed departure route, typically used in busy terminal areas. It is designed at the request of ATC in order to increase capacity of terminal airspace, effectively control the flow of traffic with minimal communication, and reduce environmental impact through noise abatement procedures. ATC clearance must be received prior to flying a SID.

If you cannot comply with a SID, if you do not possess the charted SID procedure, or if you simply do not wish to use SIDs, include the statement “NO SIDs” in the remarks section of your flight plan. Doing so notifies ATC that they cannot issue you a clearance containing a SID, but instead will clear you via your filed route to the extent possible, or via a Preferential Departure Route (PDR).

Transition Routes
Charted transition routes allow pilots to transition from the end of the basic SID to a location in the en route structure. Typically, transition routes fan out in various directions from the end of the basic SID to allow pilots to choose the transition route that takes them in the direction of intended departure. A transition route includes a course, a minimum altitude, and distances between fixes on the route.

To fly a SID, you must receive approval to do so in a clearance. In order to accept a clearance that includes a SID, you must have the charted SID procedure in your possession at the time of departure.

DPs are also categorized by equipment requirements as follows:
Non-RNAV DP—established for aircraft equipped with conventional avionics using ground-based NAVAIDs. These DPs may also be designed using dead reckoning navigation.

RNAV DP—established for aircraft equipped with RNAV avionics (e.g., GPS, VOR/DME, DME/DME). Automated vertical navigation is not required.

Radar DP—radar may be used for navigation guidance for SID design. Radar SIDs are established when ATC has a need to vector aircraft on departure to a particular ATS Route, NAVAID, or fix.

All public RNAV SIDs and graphic ODPs are RNAV 1. These procedures generally start with an initial RNAV or heading leg near the departure end runway. From a required navigation performance (RNP) standpoint, RNAV departure routes are designed with 1 or 2 NM performance standards as listed below. This means you as the pilot and your aircraft equipment must be able to maintain the aircraft within 1 or 2 NM either side of route centerline.

• RNAV 1 procedures require that the aircraft’s total system error remain bounded by ±1 NM for 95 percent of the total flight time.
• RNAV 2 requires a total system error of not more than 2 NM for 95 percent of the total flight time.

RNP is RNAV with on-board monitoring and alerting; RNP is also a statement of navigation performance necessary for operation within defined airspace. RNP-1 (in-lieu-of RNAV- 1) is used when a DP that contains a constant radius to a fix (RF) leg or when surveillance (radar) monitoring is not desired for when DME/DME/IRU is used. These procedures are annotated with a standard note: “RNP-1.”

For details on RNP refer to this answer by DeltaLima on Aviation StackExchange. But basically,

The RNP value alway gives the 95% accuracy, the 99.999% assurance (integrity) limit is always at twice that value. So RNP 0.3 means that the aircraft has to stay within 0.3 NM of the designed path centreline 95% of the time. And if it exceeds the 0.6 NM threshold, an alert will be raised with 99.999% certainty. RNP systems therefore require a system monitoring function.

Pilots are not authorized to fly a published RNAV or RNP procedure unless it is retrievable by the procedure name from the navigation database and conforms to the charted procedure. No other modification of database waypoints or creation of user-defined waypoints on published RNAV or RNP procedures is permitted, except to change altitude and/or airspeed waypoint constraints to comply with an ATC clearance/ instruction, or to insert a waypoint along the published route to assist in complying with an ATC instruction.

There are two types of waypoints currently in use: fly-by (FB) and fly-over (FO). A FB waypoint typically is used in a position at which a change in the course of procedure occurs. Charts represent them with four-pointed stars. This type of waypoint is designed to allow you to anticipate and begin your turn prior to reaching the waypoint, thus providing smoother transitions. Conversely, RNAV charts show a FO waypoint as a four-pointed star enclosed in a circle. This type of waypoint is used to denote a missed approach point, a missed approach holding point, or other specific points in space that must be flown over.

SID Altitudes
SID altitudes can be charted in four different ways. The first are mandatory altitudes, the second, minimum altitudes, the third, maximum altitudes and the fourth is a combination of minimum and maximum altitudes or also referred to as block altitudes. Below are examples of how each will be shown on a SID approach plate.

• Mandatory altitudes – 5500

• Minimum altitudes – 2300

• Maximum altitudes – 3300

• Combination of minimum and maximum –

Radar Departures
A radar departure is another option for departing an airport on an IFR flight. You might receive a radar departure if the airport does not have an established departure procedure, if you are unable to comply with a departure procedure, or if you request “No SIDs” as a part of your flight plan. Terrain and obstacle clearance remain your responsibility until the controller begins to provide navigational guidance in the form of radar vectors.

Visual Climb Over Airport (VCOA)
A visual climb over airport (VCOA) is a departure option for an IFR aircraft, operating in VMC equal to or greater than the specified visibility and ceiling, to visually conduct climbing turns over the airport to the published “climb-to” altitude from which to proceed with the instrument portion of the departure. [These are not very common. KTVL has one. VCOA: Rwy 18, Obtain ATC approval for climb in visual conditions when requesting IFR clearance. Remain within 3 NM, climb in visual conditions to cross South Lake Tahoe airport at or above 11100 MSL then intercept and proceed on SWR-127 to SWR VOR/DME.]

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