It may be necessary for pilots and aircraft operators to consult an aircraft performance engineer and airport/runway analysis service for information regarding the clearance of specific obstacles during IFR departure procedures to help maximize aircraft payload while complying with engine-out performance regulatory requirements. Airport/runway analysis involves the complex application of extensive airport databases and terrain information to generate computerized computations for aircraft performance in a specific configuration. This yields maximum allowable takeoff and landing weights for particular aircraft/engine configurations for a specific airport, runway, and range of temperatures. The computations also consider flap settings, various aircraft characteristics, runway conditions, obstacle clearance, and weather conditions. Data also is available for operators who desire to perform their own analysis.

When a straight-out departure is not practical or recommended, a turn procedure can be developed for the engine-out flight path for each applicable runway designed to maximize the allowable takeoff weights and ultimately, aircraft payload. Engine-out graphics are available, giving the pilot a pictorial representation of each procedure. Airport/runway analysis also is helpful for airline dispatchers, flight operations officers, engineering staff, and others to ensure that a flight does not exceed takeoff and landing limit weights.

CAUTION: Pilots and aircraft operators have the responsibility to consider obstacles and to make the necessary adjustments to their departure procedures to ensure safe clearance for aircraft over those obstacles.

Information on obstacle assessment, controlling obstacles, and other obstacles that may affect a pilot’s IFR departure may not be depicted or noted on a chart and may be outside the scope of IFR departure procedure obstacle assessment criteria. Departure criteria is predicated on normal aircraft operations for considering obstacle clearance requirements. Normal aircraft operation

means all aircraft systems are functioning normally, all required navigational aids (NAVAIDS) are performing within flight inspection parameters, and the pilot is conducting instrument operations utilizing instrument procedures based on the TERPS standard to provide ROC.


In 2000, the FAA combined into a single product both textual IFR departure procedures that were developed by the National Flight Procedures Office (NFPO) under the guidance of the Flight Standards Service (AFS) and graphic standard instrument departures (SIDs) that were designed and produced under the direction of the Air Traffic Organization (ATO). This combined product introduced the new term departure procedures (DPs) to the pilot and ATC community, and the aforementioned terms IFR departure procedure and SID were eliminated. The FAA also provided for the graphic publication of IFR departure procedures, as well as all area navigation (RNAV) DPs, to facilitate pilot understanding of the procedure. This includes both those developed solely for obstruction clearance and those developed for system enhancement. Elimination of the term SID created undue confusion in both the domestic and international aviation communities. Therefore, in the interest of international harmonization, the FAA reintroduced the term SID while also using the term obstacle departure procedure (ODP) to describe certain procedures.

There are two types of DPs: those developed to assist pilots in obstruction avoidance, ODP, and those developed to communicate air traffic control clearances, SID. DPs and/or takeoff minimums must be established for those airports with approved instrument approach procedures. ODPs are developed by the NFPO at locations with instrument procedure development responsibility. ODPs may also be required at private airports where the FAA does not have instrument procedure development responsibility. It is the responsibility of non-FAA proponents to ensure a TERPS diverse departure obstacle assessment has been accomplished and an ODP developed, where applicable. 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. A flight management system (FMS) may be used to fly a non-RNAV DP if the FMS unit accepts inputs from conventional avionics sources such as DME, VOR, and LOC. These inputs include radio tuning and may be applied to a navigation solution one at a time or in combination. Some FMSs provide for the detection and isolation of faulty navigation information.
  • RNAV DP. Established for aircraft equipped with RNAV avionics; e.g., GPS, VOR/DME, DME/DME, etc. Automated vertical navigation is not required, and all RNAV procedures not requiring GPS must be annotated with the note: “RADAR REQUIRED.” Prior to using GPS for RNAV departures, approach RAIM availability should be checked for that location with the navigation receiver or a Flight Service Station.
  • 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. A fix may be a ground-based NAVAID, a waypoint, or defined by reference to one or more radio NAVAIDS. Not all fixes are waypoints since a fix could be a VOR or VOR/DME, but all waypoints are fixes. Radar vectors may also be used to join conventional or RNAV navigation SIDs. SIDs requiring radar vectors must be annotated “RADAR REQUIRED.”