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Page Title: Specific ATC Departure Instructions
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Climb Gradient Included in the IFR Departure Procedure. In other situations, there will be no climb
gradient published on the SID; however, the SID chart will depict a "Trouble T." In these cases, you
must refer to the IFR Departure Procedures in the front of the approach book to determine the
minimum climb gradient for the runway used.
"Will ATC Clear Me To Fly a SID?" If ATC wants you to fly a SID, it will normally be included in your
clearance. The controller will state the SID name, the current number and the SID transition name after the
phrase "Cleared to (destination) airport" and prior to the phrase, "then as filed," for ALL departure
clearances when the SID or SID transition is to be flown. Controllers may omit the departure control
frequency if a SID has or will be assigned and the departure control frequency is published on the SID.
Restrictions Not Depicted On the SID. If it is necessary for the controller to assign a crossing altitude that
differs from the SID altitude, the controller should repeat the changed altitude for emphasis. If you are
radar vectored or cleared off an assigned SID, you may consider the SID canceled unless the controller
adds "Expect to resume SID." If ATC reinstates the SID and wishes any restrictions associated with the
SID to still apply, the controller will state: "Comply with restrictions."
CAUTION: When pilots and controllers discuss changes to SIDs, the potential for miscommunication is high. If
there is any question about your clearance, query the controller.
(4) Specific ATC Departure Instructions.
Before beginning our discussion of specific ATC departure instructions, it's important to take note of a few
terms. The first thing you need to know about a radar departure is what the term "radar contact" means. In
plain English, it means the controller sees your aircraft's radar return on his/her scope and he/she has
positively identified you. It's also important to understand what "radar contact" does not mean it does
not mean the controller now has responsibility for your terrain/obstacle clearance. Specifically, here's what
the AIM says: "The term `radar contact,' when used by the controller during departure, should not be
interpreted as relieving pilots of their responsibility to maintain appropriate terrain and obstruction
clearance." The AIM goes on to say "Terrain/obstruction clearance is not provided by ATC until the
controller begins to provide navigational guidance in the form of radar vectors." Even this statement is a
little misleading; ATC is never solely responsible for your terrain/obstruction clearance. A better way to
describe this relationship would be to say, "ATC does not begin to share responsibility for terrain/obstacle
clearance until the controller begins to provide navigational guidance."
CAUTION: All ATC systems are not created equal. While you may trust an FAA controller nearly 100 percent, the
pilot is always ultimately responsible for terrain/obstacle clearance; be careful who you trust to help you with that
Explanation of the Term "Specific ATC Departure Instructions". In most cases, the term "specific ATC
departure instructions" refers to radar vectors; however, there are some situations when ATC's departure
instructions do not meet the strict definition of a "radar vector." For example, prior to departure, tower
may issue you the following clearance, "Navy 1G411, on departure, turn right heading 360, climb and
maintain 5000'." In this case, technically, this instruction is not a "radar vector" because it is not
"navigational guidance based on the use of radar." Even so, if you are operating in a radar environment,
you are expected to associate departure headings with radar vectors to your planned route of flight.
Although not as common as the example above, there are situations when ATC may give you specific
departure instructions even when radar is not available.
Determining the Required Climb Gradient. Here are two examples. Prior to departure, you receive the
following clearance, "Navy 1G411, on departure, turn right heading 350, climb and maintain 5000'."
Example 1. Let's say you are departing from a runway that meets diverse departure criteria. You may
depart via radar vectors, and a minimum climb gradient of 200 ft/nm will ensure proper obstacle
Example 2. If you receive the same clearance, but you are taking off from a runway with an IFR
departure procedure published, you may follow the departure instructions; however, you must meet or
exceed the published climb gradient specified in the IFR departure procedure.

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