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2021-09-09 - Guidance for Non-Standard IFR Departures

Chad Byworth

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Chad Byworth

Effective 9 September 2021


This procedure change post clarifies the coordination and control principles for handling non-standard IFR departures from aerodromes that define standard routes for traffic joining the ATS route network (airways).

For the purposes of this guidance a standard IFR departure is considered to include SIDs, standard or preferred departures routes (SDR/PDRs - eg. Biggin Hill or Southend departures), standard headings/levels (eg. Heathrow CPT departures off Runways 09L/R) and other standing instructions that provide a fixed and defined routing to join the ATS route network. This includes routes that have a standing coordination requirement be that a pre-note, a release or a requirement to obtain a pre-defined airways joining clearance.

Conversely, a non-standard IFR departure is any IFR departure not falling within any of the above categories or for which ad-hoc coordination is required. For this guidance we consider there to be three types of non-standard IFR departure:

  1. IFR traffic joining the ATS route network on a standard routing (ie. a route which conforms to the UK SRD) but which is unable to accept the standard departure instruction.
  2. IFR traffic joining the ATS route network on a non-standard routing (ie. a route which does not conform to the UK SRD).
  3. IFR traffic not joining the ATS route network and remaining outside of controlled airspace.

The key principle for all three categories of non-standard IFR departure is that, when an APC controller is providing services, all coordination from ADC shall be with the APC controller who shall coordinate with Area Control if required. This principle exists for two reasons:

  1. To minimise coordination requirements for AC controllers.
  2. Because non-standard IFR departure routes may not be separated from inbound routes and may require APC controllers to deconflict.

However, this procedure change post should not prevent ADC controllers from coordinating with Area Control whenever they deem it necessary, for example if any already airborne departure is not conforming to the expected clearance. Additionally, ADC may occasionally be required to coordinate directly with Area Control, when this is the case it will be documented in local aerodrome documentation.


Standard ATS Route but unable to accept Standard Departure

Traffic typically falls into this category for one of two reasons:

  1. The pilot is unable to fly the procedure (conventional navigation) or does not have the procedure within an up-to-date navigation database (RNAV & conventional navigation).
  2. The pilot is simulating a navigation capability that prevents them from accepting the procedure (eg. flying an aircraft equipped with conventional navigation equipment with a SID that mandates RNAV1).

In both situations ADC shall coordinate with APC.

APC shall provide alternate after departure instructions - where appropriate this should include the appropriate noise abatement procedure/noise preferential routing, however controllers may apply judgement as to whether they will be successfully flown and, if they suspect not, may stipulate a simpler set of after departure instructions.

ADC shall pass the clearance in the format:

“Callsign, cleared to Destination via First Fix then flight planned route, after departure Runway XX/after noise abatement Runway XX, Instructions, squawk XXXX.”

Example 1: BRO6P, a 727, has filed from Birmingham to Aberdeen via TNT, the pilot requests clearance and reports “unable LUVUM SID due equipment”, Runway 15 is in use - “BRO6P, cleared to Aberdeen via TNT then flight planned route, after departure Runway 15 climb straight ahead, at 2 DME I-BIR turn right and track 165° to 4 DME I-BIR, then turn left heading 360 degrees, climb to altitude 6000 ft, squawk 5271.”

Example 2: BA45 has filed from Gatwick to Frankfurt via DVR, Runway 26L is in use, they call for clearance and are cleared via MIMFO, they report they “cannot find this SID”, they also do not have the previous DVR or ADMAG SIDs - “BA45, cleared to Amsterdam via DVR then flight planned route, after departure Runway 26L climb straight ahead to altitude 4000 ft, speed 220 knots or less, squawk 6314” - in this scenario Gatwick FIN can then vector the departure into the right-hand turn towards DET before transfer to TC South East at altitude 4000 ft.

ADC shall obtain a release from APC prior to departure.

APC shall vector the departure to mimic the standard departure and:

  • On routes where APC does not normally control departures - transfer to Area Control on an appropriate radar heading, climbing to the standard departure initial level, with the instruction to “report your heading” on transfer.
  • On routes where APC does normally control departures - transfer in accordance with the documented standing agreement.

Note: Where local aerodrome documentation provides positioning instructions for non-standard departures handled by APC controllers should position traffic as instructed prior to transfer to Area Control (currently only the Gatwick vMATS Part 2 has such instructions).

Provided traffic is transferred to Area Control either positioned to mimic the standard departure or positioned in accordance with a standing agreement there is no coordination requirement with Area Control beyond those specified for the standard route (ie. on routes that are free-flow there is no requirement to coordinate or obtain a release from Area Control).


Non-Standard ATS Route

Traffic may file a non-standard route either inadvertently, in which case pilots should be encouraged to re-route via a standard route outlined in the UK SRD, or to achieve a particular route for simulation purposes.

When a pilot opts to fly a non-standard ATS route then ADC shall coordinate with APC.

APC shall coordinate with Area Control to agree any delay or routing restrictions and to agree on positioning of traffic upon transfer to Area Control. Following this, APC shall provide ADC with the clearance and after departure instructions which shall be passed as described above.

ADC shall obtain a release from APC who shall obtain a release from Area Control prior to departure.

APC shall vector/climb the departure to position as coordinated with Area Control prior to departure.


Traffic not joining the ATS Route Network

This traffic shall be coordinated with APC as described in local aerodrome documentation. There is no requirement to coordinate with Area Control unless to coordinate a handover of radar service to traffic operating outside of controlled airspace; however, the preference should be a radar handover to an adjacent APC unit where possible.


Documentation Status

This procedure change post is considered complementary to local aerodrome documentation. It is not anticipated that this procedure will produce any discrepancies against local procedures (this procedure change is merely documenting/clarifying how this traffic should already be worked) however, if controllers note any inconsistencies, please discuss with the Operations Department via the #Operations_Help channel in the VATSIM UK Discord or via the Helpdesk.

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