OBSTACLE DEPARTURE PROCEDURES
The term Obstacle Departure Procedure (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
onerous route of flight to the en route structure or at an
altitude that allows random (diverse) IFR flight, while
attempting to accommodate typical departure routes.
An ODP must be developed when obstructions penetrate
the 40:1 departure OCS, using a complex set of ODP
development combinations to determine each situation
and required action. Textual ODPs are only issued by
ATC controllers when required for traffic. If they are not
issued by ATC, textual ODPs are at the pilot’s option to
fly or not fly the textual ODP, even in less than VFR
weather conditions, for FAR Part 91 operators, military,
and public service. As a technique, the pilot may enter
“will depart (airport) (runway) via textual ODP” in the
remarks section of the flight plan, this information to the
controller clarifies the intentions of the pilot and helps
prevent a potential pilot/controller misunderstanding.
ODPs are textual in nature, however, due to the complex
nature of some procedures, a visual presentation may be
necessary for clarification and understanding.
Additionally, all newly developed area navigation
(RNAV) ODPs are issued in graphic form. If necessary,
an ODP is charted graphically just as if it were a SID and
the chart itself includes “Obstacle” in parentheses in the
title. A graphic ODP may also be filed in an instrument
flight plan by using the computer code included in the
Only one ODP is established for a runway. It is considered
to be the default IFR departure procedure and is intended for use in the absence of ATC radar vectors or a
SID assignment. ODPs use ground based NAVAIDS,
RNAV, or dead reckoning guidance wherever possible,
without the use of radar vectors for navigation.
Military departure procedures are not handled or published
in the same manner as civil DPs. Approval
authority for DPs at military airports rests with the military.
The FAA develops U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force
DPs for domestic civil airports. The National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) publishes all
military DPs. The FAA requires that all military DPs
be coordinated with FAA ATC facilities or regions
when those DPs affect the NAS.
All ODP procedures are listed in the front of the NACO
approach chart booklets under the heading Takeoff
Minimums and Obstacle Departure Procedures. Each procedure
is listed in alphabetical order by city and state. The
ODP listing in the front of the booklet will include a reference
to the graphic chart located in the main body of the
booklet if one exists. Pilots do not need ATC clearance to
use an ODP and they are responsible for determining if
the departure airport has this type of published procedure.
FLIGHT PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
During planning, pilots need to determine whether or
not the departure airport has an ODP. Remember, an
ODP can only be established at an airport that has
instrument approach procedures (IAPs). An ODP may
drastically affect the initial part of the flight plan. Pilots
may have to depart at a higher than normal climb rate, or
depart in a direction opposite the intended heading
and maintain that for a period of time, any of which
would require an alteration in the flight plan and initial
headings. Considering the forecast weather,
departure runway, and existing ODP, plan the flight
route, climb performance, and fuel burn accordingly
to compensate for the departure procedure.
Additionally, when close-in obstacles are noted in the
Takeoff Minimums and (Obstacle) Departure Procedures
section, it may require the pilot to take action to avoid
these obstacles. Consideration must be given to decreased
climb performance from an inoperative engine or to the
amount of runway used for takeoff. Aircraft requiring a
short takeoff roll on a long runway may have little concern.
On the other hand, airplanes that use most of the
available runway for takeoff may not have the standard
ROC when climbing at the normal 200 feet per NM.
Another factor to consider is the possibility of an engine
failure during takeoff and departure. During the preflight
planning, use the aircraft performance charts to determine
if the aircraft can still maintain the required climb
performance. For high performance aircraft, an engine
failure may not impact the ability to maintain the prescribed
climb gradients. Aircraft that are performance
limited may have diminished capability and may be unable to maintain altitude, let alone complete a climb
to altitude. Based on the performance expectations for
the aircraft, construct an emergency plan of action that
includes emergency checklists and the actions to take to
ensure safety in this situation.