Obstacle departure procedure when VMC? (part 121)

smig

Well-Known Member
Scenario: IFR 121 ops. You are departing an uncontrolled airport and cleared as filed without any specific instuctions (no SID, no heading assigned). The Jepps say that this airport has an obstacle departure procedure to climb runway heading to 3000ft before turing. The weather is VMC; clear skies 20 miles vis.

Do you have to fly runway heading to 3000 in this case even though it is VMC?

I say you have to fly the DP according to OPSPEC C077. The only way out of flying the DP in my opinion is if the say something like "VMC climb approved" or something like that in the clearance. Any thoughts?
 

wheelsup

Well-Known Member
I say no:

e. Responsibilities.
1. Each pilot, prior to departing an airport on an IFR flight should consider the type of terrain and other obstacles on or in the vicinity of the departure airport; and:

3. Determine if obstacle avoidance can be maintained visually or if the ODP should be flown; and


ATC doesn't expect you to fly the ODP. If you want to fly it you should notfiy them. We had that come up here, we got a memo about it. You should turn on course ASAP IMO.

I also encountered this out in New Mexico when I was instructing, I would tell them we were doing XXX then on course they would just say "roger"...
 

tgrayson

New Member
I say you have to fly the DP according to OPSPEC C077. The only way out of flying the DP in my opinion is if the say something like "VMC climb approved" or something like that in the clearance. Any thoughts?
Here's an FAA Letter of Interpretation on the subject:

Departure Procedure


Note that

  1. "VMC climb approved" doesn't remove this requirement. And
  2. You never need ATC's permission to fly an ODP.
 

surreal1221

Well-Known Member
Granted, I don't have anything to back it up. . .but wheel's post verifies what I have been "taught."

If you can maintain separation from obstacles visually, then you are not required to fly the ODP in this situation.

Now recall, I just said I don't have a source to back it up. . .just from what I've been told, I've also never been in this situation before.
 

smig

Well-Known Member
Here's an FAA Letter of Interpretation on the subject:

Departure Procedure


Note that

  1. "VMC climb approved" doesn't remove this requirement. And
  2. You never need ATC's permission to fly an ODP.
Thanks! That letter of interpretation is exactly what I was looking for.

I do however think that you can make a VMC climbout if ATC clears you as such because the OPSPEC says you can if certain conditions are met.

OpSpec C077.3 (d)
Terminal Departures IFR. The flightcrew must comply with the departure procedures established for a particular airport by the FAA if ATC does not specify any particular departure procedure in the takeoff clearance given for that airport. THE FLIGHTCREW MAY ACCEPT AN IFR CLEARANCE CONTAINING A CLEARANCE FOR A VMC TAKEOFF AND CLIMB OUT TO A SPECIFIED POINT IN THE CLEARANCE, if the limitations and provisions of subparagraph e of these Operations Specifications are met.

subparagraph e then states that the certificate holder must identify obstacles and ensure that performace data is met.
 

smig

Well-Known Member
If you can maintain separation from obstacles visually, then you are not required to fly the ODP in this situation.
Flying part 91 I certainly would agree with you. But in this example we are part 121 which is governed with additional OpSpecs. I believe OpSpec C077 is issued to all 121 and 135 turbojet operators.
 

surreal1221

Well-Known Member
Doh - didn't see that. . .touche!

And of course - it's in the title, and is one of the first few words of your original post.

Carry On. . .
 

tgrayson

New Member
I do however think that you can make a VMC climbout if ATC clears you as such because the OPSPEC says you can if certain conditions are met.
Agreed, if your OPSPEC says that, then it's legal. Without that, I'd say it was not.
 

smig

Well-Known Member
We had that come up here, we got a memo about it. You should turn on course ASAP IMO.
Was this a 121 operation that gave you the memo? The letter of interpretation link that tgrayson put here seems to spell it out clearly that 121/135 operators must fly the DP under VMC or IMC.
 

cre8flyer

New Member
  1. You never need ATC's permission to fly an ODP.
Excuse a bit of a highjack here. . .

I also learned that you never need ATC's permission to fly an ODP, but at KFFZ the ODP takes you through the Phoenix Class B.

I've never tried. . . but I doubt you can fly (Part 91) that ODP without ATC permission.

Any comments?
 

tgrayson

New Member
I also learned that you never need ATC's permission to fly an ODP, but at KFFZ the ODP takes you through the Phoenix Class B.
Both the AIM and the 7110.65 (Air Traffic Controller's Handbook) clearly say that flying the ODP is the pilot's prerogative, so controllers either need to protect the flight path or offer the pilot some other means of obstacle clearance, such as radar vectors. Since you're IFR, you don't need a class B clearance.

If you want to be sure, call up the approach control on the telephone and ask the controllers what their expectations are. But regardless of their expectations, you need *some* method of obstacle protection until you reach safe altitudes. If the ODP is the only way, not allowing you to fly it appears unacceptable.

(BTW, I require students to fly the ODP on every flight in order to instill the habit of thinking "how can I depart this airport safely.")
 

launchpad

Well-Known Member
If you get the clearance from ATC for a VFR climb, make sure it's to a specific point on the airway. I've heard of line checks gone wrong from people mis-interpreting this opspec.

As long as you have a clearance that gives you a VFR climb to a specific altitude and point on your flight plan, the ODP can be ignored.

If you're at an uncontrolled airport departing under IFR conditions, the ODP needs to be flown. At controlled airports, they'll tell you what to do.
 

Louie1975

Well-Known Member
Both the AIM and the 7110.65 (Air Traffic Controller's Handbook) clearly say that flying the ODP is the pilot's prerogative, so controllers either need to protect the flight path or offer the pilot some other means of obstacle clearance, such as radar vectors. Since you're IFR, you don't need a class B clearance.

If you want to be sure, call up the approach control on the telephone and ask the controllers what their expectations are. But regardless of their expectations, you need *some* method of obstacle protection until you reach safe altitudes. If the ODP is the only way, not allowing you to fly it appears unacceptable.

(BTW, I require students to fly the ODP on every flight in order to instill the habit of thinking "how can I depart this airport safely.")

TGrayson is there a consideration in VMC conditions when doing an ODP that is different from what VFR traffic is doing in the pattern? In other words, is interfering with VFR traffic ever a consideration? Just like instrument approaches, many VFR pilots wont understand what you are doing or why. Also, could create a traffic conflict with lower/earlier turns?(you would begin a turn at 400 agl if no turning altitude is specified, much lower that VFR traffic). Also, you are doing this with IFR students correct?(not private students). Thanks!
 

tgrayson

New Member
TGrayson is there a consideration in VMC conditions when doing an ODP that is different from what VFR traffic is doing in the pattern? In other words, is interfering with VFR traffic ever a consideration?
I agree that it is, but the ODP's around here aren't tremendously different from a normal pattern departure; mainly the altitude of turn is the issue. One airport I use does have a "Visual Climb Over Airport" and I do have students do that; we make an announcement over the CTAF about what we're doing.

Although I'm a stickler about obeying AIM traffic pattern recommendations, I think it's essential to practice these IFR procedures, so I will allow IFR students to make turns above or below AIM recommendations. The early turns aren't much of a problem, because *most* pilots depart the pattern on a crosswind leg anyway (contrary to AIM recommendations). Obviously, though, safety comes first.

As for turning at 400 AGL where there is no ODP, most training aircraft will be beyond the departure end of the runway when this altitude occurs, close to a normal crosswind turn, so it's not a huge issue. Now, if I were in a higher performance aircraft that could reach this altitude by midfield, I might have to rethink that.

Yes, IFR students only.
 
If you get the clearance from ATC for a VFR climb, make sure it's to a specific point on the airway. I've heard of line checks gone wrong from people mis-interpreting this opspec.

As long as you have a clearance that gives you a VFR climb to a specific altitude and point on your flight plan, the ODP can be ignored.

If you're at an uncontrolled airport departing under IFR conditions, the ODP needs to be flown. At controlled airports, they'll tell you what to do.
:yeahthat: Additionally make sure that you request a VFR CLIMB to XXX fix when you request your clearance.
 

kellwolf

Piece of Trash
Granted, I don't have anything to back it up. . .but wheel's post verifies what I have been "taught."

I'll throw a monkeywrench into your operation, there. We got a memo about people NOT flying the procedure reminding us to do it. It was based on ATC complaints that we weren't. It might be in some airports they expect you to do it just b/c everyone else does. For me, ODP are part of my takeoff briefing on the ground, and I always plan on doing them unless ATC amends them with something else in a clearance.
 

tgrayson

New Member
At controlled airports, they'll tell you what to do.
That also needs to be treated with caution. Not all tower controllers and/or departure controls are *capable* of ensuring terrain clearance for you. If there's a DVA around the airport, fine and dandy, but there aren't many of those and no one tells pilots where they are.
 

smig

Well-Known Member
How about this scenario: same as the first example, cleared as filed, VMC, exept this time the ODP says fly runway heading to 4000ft. You are at a towered airport and on takeoff tower says "cleared for takeoff, procede direct XYZ vor WHEN ABLE". I fly out of an airport like this once in a while and when tower uses the phrase "when able" I always finish the ODP before turning. I tried to find a letter of interpretation with the use of the words "when able" but I am unable to find one.

This is what I think is correct... let me know what you guys think.
-"procede direct XYZ when able" = go to XYZ after ODP is complete.
-"procede direct XYZ"= go to XYZ after 400ft AGL.
 
Top