Section 2. Departure Procedures
5-2-1. Pre-taxi Clearance Procedures
a. Certain airports have established pre-taxi clearance programs whereby pilots of departing instrument flight rules (IFR) aircraft may elect to receive their IFR clearances before they start taxiing for takeoff. The following provisions are included in such procedures:
1. Pilot participation is not mandatory.
2. Participating pilots call clearance delivery or ground control not more than 10 minutes before proposed taxi time.
3. IFR clearance (or delay information, if clearance cannot be obtained) is issued at the time of this initial call-up.
4. When the IFR clearance is received on clearance delivery frequency, pilots call ground control when ready to taxi.
5. Normally, pilots need not inform ground control that they have received IFR clearance on clearance delivery frequency. Certain locations may, however, require that the pilot inform ground control of a portion of the routing or that the IFR clearance has been received.
6. If a pilot cannot establish contact on clearance delivery frequency or has not received an IFR clearance before ready to taxi, the pilot should contact ground control and inform the controller accordingly.
b. Locations where these procedures are in effect are indicated in the Airport/Facility Directory.
5-2-2. Pre-departure Clearance Procedures
a. Many airports in the National Airspace System are equipped with the Tower Data Link System (TDLS) that includes the Pre-departure Clearance (PDC) function. The PDC function automates the Clearance Delivery operations in the ATCT for participating users. The PDC function displays IFR clearances from the ARTCC to the ATCT. The Clearance Delivery controller in the ATCT can append local departure information and transmit the clearance via data link to participating airline/service provider computers. The airline/service provider will then deliver the clearance via the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) or a similar data link system or, for nondata link equipped aircraft, via a printer located at the departure gate. PDC reduces frequency congestion, controller workload and is intended to mitigate delivery/readback errors. Also, information from participating users indicates a reduction in pilot workload.
b. PDC is available only to participating aircraft that have subscribed to the service through an approved service provider.
c. Due to technical reasons, the following limitations currently exist in the PDC program:
1. Aircraft filing multiple flight plans are limited to one PDC clearance per departure airport within a 24-hour period. Additional clearances will be delivered verbally.
2. If the clearance is revised or modified prior to delivery, it will be rejected from PDC and the clearance will need to be delivered verbally.
d. No acknowledgment of receipt or readback is required for a PDC.
e. In all situations, the pilot is encouraged to contact clearance delivery if a question or concern exists regarding an automated clearance.
5-2-3. Taxi Clearance
Pilots on IFR flight plans should communicate with the control tower on the appropriate ground control or clearance delivery frequency, prior to starting engines, to receive engine start time, taxi and/or clearance information.
5-2-4. Line Up and Wait (LUAW)
a. Line up and wait is an air traffic control (ATC) procedure designed to position an aircraft onto the runway for an imminent departure. The ATC instruction “LINE UP AND WAIT” is used to instruct a pilot to taxi onto the departure runway and line up and wait.
b. This ATC instruction is not an authorization to takeoff. In instances where the pilot has been instructed to line up and wait and has been advised of a reason/condition (wake turbulence, traffic on an intersecting runway, etc.) or the reason/condition is clearly visible (another aircraft that has landed on or is taking off on the same runway), and the reason/condition is satisfied, the pilot should expect an imminent takeoff clearance, unless advised of a delay. If you are uncertain about any ATC instruction or clearance, contact ATC immediately.
c. If a takeoff clearance is not received within a reasonable amount of time after clearance to line up and wait, ATC should be contacted.
d. Situational awareness during line up and wait operations is enhanced by monitoring ATC instructions/clearances issued to other aircraft. Pilots should listen carefully if another aircraft is on frequency that has a similar call sign and pay close attention to communications between ATC and other aircraft. If you are uncertain of an ATC instruction or clearance, query ATC immediately. Care should be taken to not inadvertently execute a clearance/instruction for another aircraft.
e. Pilots should be especially vigilant when conducting line up and wait operations at night or during reduced visibility conditions. They should scan the full length of the runway and look for aircraft on final approach or landing roll out when taxiing onto a runway. ATC should be contacted anytime there is a concern about a potential conflict.
f. When two or more runways are active, aircraft may be instructed to “LINE UP AND WAIT” on two or more runways. When multiple runway operations are being conducted, it is important to listen closely for your call sign and runway. Be alert for similar sounding call signs and acknowledge all instructions with your call sign. When you are holding in position and are not sure if the takeoff clearance was for you, ask ATC before you begin takeoff roll. ATC prefers that you confirm a takeoff clearance rather than mistake another aircraft's clearance for your own.
g. When ATC issues intersection “line up and wait” and takeoff clearances, the intersection designator will be used. If ATC omits the intersection designator, call ATC for clarification.
h. If landing traffic is a factor during line up and wait operations, ATC will inform the aircraft in position of the closest traffic that has requested a full-stop, touch-and-go, stop-and-go, or an unrestricted low approach to the same runway. Pilots should take care to note the position of landing traffic. ATC will also advise the landing traffic when an aircraft is authorized to “line up and wait” on the same runway.
i. Never land on a runway that is occupied by another aircraft, even if a landing clearance was issued. Do not hesitate to ask the controller about the traffic on the runway and be prepared to execute a go-around.
5-2-5. Abbreviated IFR Departure Clearance (Cleared. . .as Filed) Procedures
a. ATC facilities will issue an abbreviated IFR departure clearance based on the ROUTE of flight filed in the IFR flight plan, provided the filed route can be approved with little or no revision. These abbreviated clearance procedures are based on the following conditions:
1. The aircraft is on the ground or it has departed visual flight rules (VFR) and the pilot is requesting IFR clearance while airborne.
2. That a pilot will not accept an abbreviated clearance if the route or destination of a flight plan filed with ATC has been changed by the pilot or the company or the operations officer before departure.
3. That it is the responsibility of the company or operations office to inform the pilot when they make a change to the filed flight plan.
4. That it is the responsibility of the pilot to inform ATC in the initial call-up (for clearance) when the filed flight plan has been either:
(a) Amended, or
(b) Canceled and replaced with a new filed flight plan.
b. Controllers will issue a detailed clearance when they know that the original filed flight plan has been changed or when the pilot requests a full route clearance.
c. The clearance as issued will include the destination airport filed in the flight plan.
d. ATC procedures now require the controller to state the DP name, the current number and the DP transition name after the phrase "Cleared to (destination) airport" and prior to the phrase, "then as filed," for ALL departure clearances when the DP or DP transition is to be flown. The procedures apply whether or not the DP is filed in the flight plan.
e. STARs, when filed in a flight plan, are considered a part of the filed route of flight and will not normally be stated in an initial departure clearance. If the ARTCC's jurisdictional airspace includes both the departure airport and the fix where a STAR or STAR transition begins, the STAR name, the current number and the STAR transition name MAY be stated in the initial clearance.
f. "Cleared to (destination) airport as filed" does NOT include the en route altitude filed in a flight plan. An en route altitude will be stated in the clearance or the pilot will be advised to expect an assigned or filed altitude within a given time frame or at a certain point after departure. This may be done verbally in the departure instructions or stated in the DP.
g. In both radar and nonradar environments, the controller will state "Cleared to (destination) airport as filed" or:
1. If a DP or DP transition is to be flown, specify the DP name, the current DP number, the DP transition name, the assigned altitude/flight level, and any additional instructions (departure control frequency, beacon code assignment, etc.) necessary to clear a departing aircraft via the DP or DP transition and the route filed.
2. When there is no DP or when the pilot cannot accept a DP, the controller will specify the assigned altitude or flight level, and any additional instructions necessary to clear a departing aircraft via an appropriate departure routing and the route filed.
3. If it is necessary to make a minor revision to the filed route, the controller will specify the assigned DP or DP transition (or departure routing), the revision to the filed route, the assigned altitude or flight level and any additional instructions necessary to clear a departing aircraft.
4. Additionally, in a nonradar environment, the controller will specify one or more fixes, as necessary, to identify the initial route of flight.
h. To ensure success of the program, pilots should:
1. Avoid making changes to a filed flight plan just prior to departure.
2. State the following information in the initial call-up to the facility when no change has been made to the filed flight plan: Aircraft call sign, location, type operation (IFR) and the name of the airport (or fix) to which you expect clearance.
3. If the flight plan has been changed, state the change and request a full route clearance.
4. Request verification or clarification from ATC if ANY portion of the clearance is not clearly understood.
5. When requesting clearance for the IFR portion of a VFR/IFR flight, request such clearance prior to the fix where IFR operation is proposed to commence in sufficient time to avoid delay. Use the following phraseology:
5-2-6. Departure Restrictions, Clearance Void Times, Hold for Release, and Release Times
a. ATC may assign departure restrictions, clearance void times, hold for release, and release times, when necessary, to separate departures from other traffic or to restrict or regulate the departure flow.
1. Clearance Void Times. A pilot may receive a clearance, when operating from an airport without a control tower, which contains a provision for the clearance to be void if not airborne by a specific time. A pilot who does not depart prior to the clearance void time must advise ATC as soon as possible of their intentions. ATC will normally advise the pilot of the time allotted to notify ATC that the aircraft did not depart prior to the clearance void time. This time cannot exceed 30 minutes. Failure of an aircraft to contact ATC within 30 minutes after the clearance void time will result in the aircraft being considered overdue and search and rescue procedures initiated.
2. Pilots who depart at or after their clearance void time are not afforded IFR separation and may be in violation of 14 CFR Section 91.173 which requires that pilots receive an appropriate ATC clearance before operating IFR in controlled airspace.
2. Hold for Release. ATC may issue "hold for release" instructions in a clearance to delay an aircraft's departure for traffic management reasons (i.e., weather, traffic volume, etc.). When ATC states in the clearance, "hold for release," the pilot may not depart utilizing that IFR clearance until a release time or additional instructions are issued by ATC. In addition, ATC will include departure delay information in conjunction with "hold for release" instructions. The ATC instruction, "hold for release," applies to the IFR clearance and does not prevent the pilot from departing under VFR. However, prior to takeoff the pilot should cancel the IFR flight plan and operate the transponder on the appropriate VFR code. An IFR clearance may not be available after departure.
3. Release Times. A "release time" is a departure restriction issued to a pilot by ATC, specifying the earliest time an aircraft may depart. ATC will use "release times" in conjunction with traffic management procedures and/or to separate a departing aircraft from other traffic.
4. Expect Departure Clearance Time (EDCT). The EDCT is the runway release time assigned to an aircraft included in traffic management programs. Aircraft are expected to depart no earlier than 5 minutes before, and no later than 5 minutes after the EDCT.
b. If practical, pilots departing uncontrolled airports should obtain IFR clearances prior to becoming airborne when two-way communications with the controlling ATC facility is available.
5-2-7. Departure Control
a. Departure Control is an approach control function responsible for ensuring separation between departures. So as to expedite the handling of departures, Departure Control may suggest a takeoff direction other than that which may normally have been used under VFR handling. Many times it is preferred to offer the pilot a runway that will require the fewest turns after takeoff to place the pilot on course or selected departure route as quickly as possible. At many locations particular attention is paid to the use of preferential runways for local noise abatement programs, and route departures away from congested areas.
b. Departure Control utilizing radar will normally clear aircraft out of the terminal area using DPs via radio navigation aids. When a departure is to be vectored immediately following takeoff, the pilot will be advised prior to takeoff of the initial heading to be flown but may not be advised of the purpose of the heading. Pilots operating in a radar environment are expected to associate departure headings with vectors to their planned route or flight. When given a vector taking the aircraft off a previously assigned nonradar route, the pilot will be advised briefly what the vector is to achieve. Thereafter, radar service will be provided until the aircraft has been reestablished “on‐course” using an appropriate navigation aid and the pilot has been advised of the aircraft's position or a handoff is made to another radar controller with further surveillance capabilities.
c. Controllers will inform pilots of the departure control frequencies and, if appropriate, the transponder code before takeoff. Pilots must ensure their transponder is adjusted to the “on” or normal operating position as soon as practical and remain on during all operations unless otherwise requested to change to “standby” by ATC. Pilots should not change to the departure control frequency until requested. Controllers may omit the departure control frequency if a DP has or will be assigned and the departure control frequency is published on the DP.
5-2-8. Instrument Departure Procedures (DP) - Obstacle Departure Procedures (ODP) and Standard Instrument Departures (SID)
Instrument departure procedures are preplanned instrument flight rule (IFR) procedures which provide obstruction clearance from the terminal area to the appropriate en route structure. There are two types of DPs, Obstacle Departure Procedures (ODPs), printed either textually or graphically, and Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs), always printed graphically. All DPs, either textual or graphic may be designed using either conventional or RNAV criteria. RNAV procedures will have RNAV printed in the title, e.g., SHEAD TWO DEPARTURE (RNAV). ODPs provide obstruction clearance via the least onerous route from the terminal area to the appropriate en route structure. ODPs are recommended for obstruction clearance and may be flown without ATC clearance unless an alternate departure procedure (SID or radar vector) has been specifically assigned by ATC. Graphic ODPs will have (OBSTACLE) printed in the procedure title, e.g., GEYSR THREE DEPARTURE (OBSTACLE), or, CROWN ONE DEPARTURE (RNAV) (OBSTACLE). Standard Instrument Departures are air traffic control (ATC) procedures printed for pilot/controller use in graphic form to provide obstruction clearance and a transition from the terminal area to the appropriate en route structure. SIDs are primarily designed for system enhancement and to reduce pilot/controller workload. ATC clearance must be received prior to flying a SID. All DPs provide the pilot with a way to depart the airport and transition to the en route structure safely. Pilots operating under 14 CFR Part 91 are strongly encouraged to file and fly a DP at night, during marginal Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) and Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), when one is available. The following paragraphs will provide an overview of the DP program, why DPs are developed, what criteria are used, where to find them, how they are to be flown, and finally pilot and ATC responsibilities.
a. Why are DPs necessary? The primary reason is to provide obstacle clearance protection information to pilots. A secondary reason, at busier airports, is to increase efficiency and reduce communications and departure delays through the use of SIDs. When an instrument approach is initially developed for an airport, the need for DPs is assessed. The procedure designer conducts an obstacle analysis to support departure operations. If an aircraft may turn in any direction from a runway within the limits of the assessment area (see paragraph 5-2-8b2) and remain clear of obstacles, that runway passes what is called a diverse departure assessment and no ODP will be published. A SID may be published if needed for air traffic control purposes. However, if an obstacle penetrates what is called the 40:1 obstacle identification surface, then the procedure designer chooses whether to:
1. Establish a steeper than normal climb gradient; or
2. Establish a steeper than normal climb gradient with an alternative that increases takeoff minima to allow the pilot to visually remain clear of the obstacle(s); or
3. Design and publish a specific departure route; or
4. A combination or all of the above.
b. What criteria is used to provide obstruction clearance during departure?
1. Unless specified otherwise, required obstacle clearance for all departures, including diverse, is based on the pilot crossing the departure end of the runway at least 35 feet above the departure end of runway elevation, climbing to 400 feet above the departure end of runway 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. A greater climb gradient may be specified in the DP to clear obstacles or to achieve an ATC crossing restriction. If an initial turn higher than 400 feet above the departure end of runway elevation is specified in the DP, the turn should be commenced at the higher altitude. If a turn is specified at a fix, the turn must be made at that fix. Fixes may have minimum and/or maximum crossing altitudes that must be adhered to prior to passing the fix. In rare instances, obstacles that exist on the extended runway centerline may make an "early turn" more desirable than proceeding straight ahead. In these cases, the published departure instructions will include the language "turn left(right) as soon as practicable." These departures will also include a ceiling and visibility minimum of at least 300 and 1. Pilots encountering one of these DPs should preplan the climb out to gain altitude and begin the turn as quickly as possible within the bounds of safe operating practices and operating limitations. This type of departure procedure is being phased out.
2. ODPs and SIDs assume normal aircraft performance, and that all engines are operating. Development of contingency procedures, required to cover the case of an engine failure or other emergency in flight that may occur after liftoff, is the responsibility of the operator. (More detailed information on this subject is available in Advisory Circular AC 120-91, Airport Obstacle Analysis, and in the “Departure Procedures” section of chapter 2 in the Instrument Procedures Handbook, FAA-H-8261-1.)
3. The 40:1 obstacle identification surface (OIS) begins at the departure end of runway (DER) and slopes upward at 152 FPNM until reaching the minimum IFR altitude or entering the en route structure. This assessment area is limited to 25 NM from the airport in nonmountainous areas and 46 NM in designated mountainous areas. Beyond this distance, the pilot is responsible for obstacle clearance if not operating on a published route, if below (having not reached) the MEA or MOCA of a published route, or an ATC assigned altitude. See FIG 5-2-1. (Ref 14 CFR 91.177 for further information on en route altitudes.)