Include the following items in IFR departure clearances:
NOTE: When considered necessary, controllers or pilots may initiate read backs of a clearance. Some pilots may be
required by company rule to do so.
Always include the airport of departure when issuing a departure clearance for relay to an aircraft by an FSS,
Specify the destination airport when practicable, even though it is outside controlled airspace. Issue short
range clearances as provided for in any procedures established for their use.
(a) When the clearance limit is an airport, the word “airport” must follow the airport name.
CLEARED TO (destination) AIRPORT
(b) When the clearance limit is a NAVAID and the NAVAID type is known, the type of NAVAID must follow the
CLEARED TO (NAVAID name and type)
(c) When the clearance limit is an intersection or waypoint and the type is known, the type must follow
the intersection or waypoint name.
CLEARED TO (intersection or waypoint name and type)
For Air Force One (AF1) operations, do not specify the destination airport.
NOTE: Presidential detail is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the destination airport.
DESTINATION AS FILED.
Specify direction of takeoff/turn or initial heading to be flown after takeoff as follows:
(a) Locations with Airport Traffic Control Service-Specify direction of takeoff/turn or initial heading as
necessary, consistent with published:
(1) Departure Procedures (DP). If an aircraft is vectored off a published Standard Instrument
Departure (SID) or Obstacle Departure Procedure (ODP), that vector cancels the DP and ATC becomes
responsible for separation from terrain and/or obstructions. IFR aircraft must be assigned an
(2) Diverse Vector Areas (DVA). The assignment of an initial heading using a DVA can be given to the
pilot as part of the initial clearance, but must be given no later than with the takeoff clearance.
Once airborne, an aircraft assigned headings within the DVA can be vectored below the MVA/MIA.
Controllers cannot interrupt an aircraft's climb in the DVA until the aircraft is at or above the
1. It is important for controllers to understand that there can be differences in published climb
gradients applicable to individual departure procedures serving the same airport or runway. Assigning
a different departure procedure without the pilot being able to re-brief may result in the pilot
rejecting the new procedure.
2. When a departure clearance includes a SID, concurrent use of a diverse vector area (DVA) is not
(b) Locations without Airport Traffic Control Service, but within a Class E surface area* specify
direction of takeoff/turn or initial heading if necessary. Obtain/solicit the pilot's concurrence
concerning a turn or heading before issuing them in a clearance.
NOTE: Direction of takeoff and turn after takeoff can be obtained/solicited directly from the pilot, or
relayed by an FSS, dispatcher, etc., as obtained/solicited from the pilot.
(c) At all other airports Do not specify direction of takeoff/turn after takeoff. If necessary to specify
an initial heading to be flown after takeoff, issue the initial heading so as to apply only within
Where an ODP has been published for a location and pilot compliance is necessary to ensure separation, include
the procedure as part of the ATC clearance. Additionally, when an ODP is included in the clearance and the
Visual Climb over Airport (VCOA) is requested by the pilot or assigned by ATC when it is the only procedure
published in the ODP, include an instruction to remain within the published visibility of the VCOA.
"Depart via the (airport name)(runway number) obstacle departure procedure. Remain within (number of
miles) miles of the (airport name) during visual climb” if applicable."
"Depart via the (graphic ODP name) obstacle departure procedure. Remain within (number of miles) miles of
the (airport name) during visual climb" if applicable.
1. Pilots will advise ATC of their intent to use the VCOA option when requesting their IFR clearance.
2. Some aircraft are required by 14 CFR 91.175 to depart a runway under IFR using the ODP absent other
instructions from ATC.
3. IFR takeoff minimums and obstacle departure procedures are prescribed for specific airports/runways and
published in either a textual, or graphic form with the label (OBSTACLE) in the procedure title, and
documented on an appropriate FAA Form 8260. To alert pilots of their existence, instrument approach
procedure charts are annotated with a symbol:
Compatibility with a procedure issued may be verified by asking the pilot if items obtained/solicited will
allow him/her to comply with local traffic pattern, terrain, or obstruction avoidance.
FLY RUNWAY HEADING.
DEPART (direction or runway).
WHEN ENTERING CONTROLLED AIRSPACE (instruction), FLY HEADING (degrees) UNTIL REACHING (altitude, point, or
fix) BEFORE PROCEEDING ON COURSE.
FLY A (degree) BEARING/AZIMUTH FROM/TO (fix) UNTIL (time),
UNTIL REACHING (fix or altitude),
and if required,
BEFORE PROCEEDING ON COURSE.
“Verify right turn after departure will allow compliance with local traffic pattern,”or “Verify this
clearance will allow compliance with terrain or obstruction avoidance.”
NOTE: If a published IFR departure procedure is not included in an ATC clearance, compliance with such a
procedure is the pilot's prerogative.
(a) Assign a SID (including transition if necessary). Assign a ADR/ADAR, when applicable or the route
filed by the pilot, when a SID is not established for the departure route to be flown, or the pilot has
indicated that he/she does not wish to use a SID.
NOTE: Departure procedure descriptive text contained within parentheses (for example, “Jimmy One (RNAV)
Departure”) is not included in departure clearance phraseology.
(SID name and number) DEPARTURE.
(SID name and number) DEPARTURE, (transition name) TRANSITION.
“Stroudsburg One Departure.”
“Stroudsburg One Departure, Sparta Transition.”
NOTE: If a pilot does not wish to use a SID issued in an ATC clearance, or any other SID published for
that location, he/she is expected to advise ATC.
(b) If it is necessary to assign a crossing altitude which differs from the SID altitude emphasize the
change to the pilot.
(SID name and number) DEPARTURE, EXCEPT CROSS (revised altitude information).
“Stroudsburg One Departure, except cross Quaker at five thousand.”
“Astoria Two Departure, except cross Astor waypoint at six thousand.”
(c) Specify altitudes when they are not included in the SID.
(SID name and number) DEPARTURE. CROSS (fix) AT (altitude).
“Stroudsburg One Departure. Cross Jersey intersection at four thousand. Cross Range intersection at
“Engle Two departure. Cross Pilim waypoint at or above five thousand. Cross Engle waypoint at or above
seven thousand. Cross Gorge waypoint at niner thousand.”
Route of flight. Specify one or more of the following:
Airway, route, course, heading, azimuth, arc, or vector.
The routing a pilot can expect if any part of the route beyond a short range clearance limit differs from that
EXPECT FURTHER CLEARANCE VIA (airways, routes, or fixes.)
Altitude. Use one of the following in the order of preference listed.
NOTE: Turbojet aircraft equipped with afterburner engines may occasionally be expected to use afterburning
during their climb to the en route altitude. When so advised by the pilot, the controller may be able to plan
his/her traffic to accommodate the high performance climb and allow the pilot to climb to his/her planned
altitude without restriction.
To the maximum extent possible, Air Force One will be cleared unrestricted climb to:
(a) 9,000' AGL or higher.
(b) If unable 9,000' AGL or higher, then the highest available altitude below 9,000' AGL.
Assign the altitude requested by the pilot.
Assign an altitude, as near as possible to the altitude requested by the pilot, and
(a) Inform the pilot when to expect clearance to the requested altitude unless instructions are contained
in the specified SID, or
(b) If the requested altitude is not expected to be available, inform the pilot what altitude can be
expected and when/where to expect it.
Use one of the following when the SID contains published crossing restrictions:
(a) Instruct aircraft to “Climb via SID.”
(b) Instruct the aircraft to “Climb via SID except maintain (altitude)” when a top altitude is not
published or when it is necessary to issue an interim altitude.
“Cleared to Johnston Airport, Scott One departure, Jonez transition, Q One Forty-five. Climb via SID.”
“Cleared to Johnston Airport, Scott One departure, Jonez transition, Q One Forty-five, Climb via SID
except maintain flight level one eight zero.”
“Cleared to Johnston Airport, Scott One departure, Jonez transition, Q One Forty-five, Climb Via SID
except maintain flight level one eight zero, expect flight level three five zero one zero minutes
1. Use of “Climb via SID Except Maintain” to emphasize a published procedural constraint is an
inappropriate use of this phraseology.
2. Considering the principle that the last ATC clearance issued has precedence over the previous, the
phraseology “maintain (altitude)” alone cancels previously issued altitude restrictions, including
SID/STAR altitude restrictions, unless they are restated or modified.
When a SID does not contain published crossing restrictions and/or is a SID with a Radar Vector segment or a
Radar Vector SID; or a SID is constructed with a Radar Vector segment and contains published crossing
restrictions after the vector segment, instruct aircraft to “MAINTAIN (altitude)."
1. 14 CFR Section 91.185, says that in the event of a two-way radio communication failure, in VFR
conditions or if VFR conditions are encountered after the failure, the pilot must continue the flight
under VFR and land as soon as practicable. That section also says that when the failure occurs in IFR
conditions the pilot must continue flight at the highest of the following altitudes or flight levels for
the route segment being flown:
a. The altitude or flight level assigned in the last ATC clearance received.
b. The minimum altitude (converted, if appropriate, to minimum flight level as prescribed in 14 CFR
Section 91.121(c)) for IFR operations. (This altitude should be consistent with MEAs, MOCAs, etc.)
c. The altitude or flight level ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance.
2. If the expected altitude is the highest of the preceding choices, the pilot should begin to climb to
that expected altitude at the time or fix specified in the clearance. The choice to climb to the expected
altitude is not applicable if the pilot has proceeded beyond the specified fix or if the time designated
in the clearance has expired.
CLIMB AND MAINTAIN (the altitude as near as possible to the pilot's requested altitude). EXPECT (the
requested altitude or an altitude different from the requested altitude) AT (time or fix),
and if applicable,
(pilot's requested altitude) IS NOT AVAILABLE.
1. A pilot has requested flight level 350. Flight level 230 is immediately available and flight level 350
will be available at the Appleton zero five zero radial 35 mile fix. The clearance will read: “Climb and
maintain flight level two three zero. Expect flight level three five zero at Appleton zero five zero
radial three five mile fix.”
2. A pilot has requested 9,000 feet. An altitude restriction is required because of facility procedures or
requirements. Assign the altitude and advise the pilot at what fix/time the pilot may expect the requested
altitude. The clearance could read: “Climb and maintain five thousand. Expect niner thousand one zero
minutes after departure.”
3. A pilot has requested 17,000 feet which is unavailable. You plan 15,000 feet to be the pilot's highest
altitude prior to descent to the pilot's destination but only 13,000 feet is available until San Jose VOR.
Advise the pilot of the expected altitude change and at what fix/time to expect clearance to 15,000 feet.
The clearance will read: “Climb and maintain one three thousand. Expect one five thousand at San Jose. One
seven thousand is not available.”