12-3 Departure Procedures

 Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs). To simplify air traffic control clearances and relay and delivery procedures, Standard Instrument Departures have been established for the most frequently used departure routes in areas of high traffic activity. You will normally use a SID (Fig. 12-2) where such departures are available since this is advantageous to both users and Air Traffic Control. The following points are important to remember if you file IFR out of terminal areas where SIDs are in use:

  1. SIDs are published in booklet form every 56 days with each issue of the National Ocean Survey Approach and Enroute Charts. Two booklets are issued, one for the eastern half of the United States and one for the western half. The descriptions are both graphic and textual. The AIRMAN'S INFORMATION MANUAL describes SID procedures.
  2. Pilots of IFR civil aircraft operating from locations where SID procedures are effective may expect an ATC clearance containing a SID. The use of a SID requires pilot possession of at least the textual description of the approved effective SID.
  3. If you do not possess a preprinted SID or for any other reason do not wish to use a SID, you are expected to advise ATC. Notification may be accomplished by filing "NO SID" in the remarks section of the filed flight plan or by the less desirable method of verbally advising ATC.
  4. If you accept a SID in your clearance, you must comply with it, just as you comply with other ATC instructions.

 Preferred IFR Routes. In the major terminal and enroute environments, preferred routes have been established to guide pilots in planning their routes of flight, to minimize route changes, and to aid in the orderly management of air traffic using the Federal Airways. You file via SID and preferred route for the same reasons that for long automobile trips you drive via expressway and interstate superhighway. The route is quicker, easier, and safer. The AIRPORT/FACILITY DIRECTORY lists both high and low altitude preferred routes.

 Radar-Controlled Departures. On your IFR departures from airports in congested areas, you will normally receive navigational guidance from departure control by radar vector. When your departure is to be vectored immediately following takeoff, you will be advised before takeoff of the initial heading to be flown and the frequency on which you will contact departure control. This information is vital in the event that you experience (complete) loss of two-way radio communications during departure.

 The radar departure is normally simply. Following takeoff, you contact departure control on the assigned frequency upon release from tower control. At this time departure control verifies radar contact, tells you briefly the purpose of the vector (airway, point, or route to which you will be vectored), and gives headings, altitude, and climb instructions, and other information to move you quickly and safely out of the terminal area. You listen to instructions and fly basic instrument maneuvers (climbs, level-offs, turns to predetermined headings, and straight-and-level flight) until the controller tells you your position with respect to the route given in your clearance, whom to contact next, and to "resume normal navigation."

 Departure control will vector you either to a navigation facility or an enroute position appropriate to your departure clearance, or you will be transferred to another controller with further radar surveillance capabilities. It is just like having your instructor along to tell you what to do and when to do it. The procedure is so easy, in fact, that inexperienced pilots are often inclined to depend entirely on radar for navigational guidance, unconcerned about the consequences about loss of radar contact and indifferent to common-sense precautions associated with flight planning.

 A radar-controlled departure does NOT relieve you of your responsibilities as pilot-in-command of your aircraft. You should be prepared before takeoff to conduct your own navigation according to your ATC clearance, with navigation receivers checked and properly tuned. While under radar control, you should monitor your instruments to ensure that you are continuously oriented to the route specified in your clearance and you should record the time over designated check points.

 Departures from Uncontrolled Airports. Occasionally, you will depart from airports which have neither a Tower nor Flight Service Station. Under these circumstances, it is desirable that you telephone your flight plan to the nearest FAA facility at least 30 minutes prior to your estimated departure time. If weather conditions permit, you could depart VFR and request IFR clearance as soon as radio contact is established with an FAA facility. If weather conditions made it undesirable to attempt to maintain VFR, you could again telephone the facility which took your flight plan and request clearance by telephone. In this case, the controller would probably issue a short range clearance pending establishment of radio contact and might also restrict your departure time to a certain period. For example:


 This would authorize you to depart within the allotted time period and proceed in accordance with your clearance. In the absence of any specific departure instructions, the pilot would be expected to proceed on course via the most direct route.