Performance Based Navigation (PBN)

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FAA Removes SID Chart Obstacle Notes to Cut Clutter

Aug. 10, 2017

With the Aug. 17 charting cycle, pilots will find revised SID charts easier to read because the FAA is removing the takeoff obstacle notes from them.

The obstacles are still there, said Rich Boll, chair of the Airspace, Air Traffic, and Flight Technology Working Group of NBAA’s Access Committee. “If these obstacles are a factor on departure, pilots will find the necessary information in the Takeoff Minimums and Obstacle Departure Procedure section, which are located on the front of the government charts and on the back of Jeppesen’s 10-9 airport chart.”

In 2015, NBAA requested the removal of the SID obstacle notes at a semi-annual meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum, in which industry provides input to the FAA on charting and the design of instrument procedures, said Boll, one of NBAA’s principal representatives.

“Several years ago, the FAA started charting obstacles located within a mile of the departure end of the runway, and which require a higher-than-standard climb gradient to a height not greater than 200 feet above the elevation of the departure end of the runway, in lieu of publishing the higher climb gradient,” he said.

In recent years, improved surveys steadily increased the number of obstacles being charted, consuming much of the available white space on the charts, which made it harder comprehend the SID.

“On government charts, some procedures often needed another page to list them all,” said Boll. “It was a white-space issue. The charts became cluttered to the point that pilots would ignore the obstacle data,” because at larger airports, they were rarely a factor, given the takeoff field length.

The obstacle data “is more critical to lower-performance aircraft, such piston singles and twins,” Boll explained. “It depends on the takeoff distance needed to reach 50 feet.” Because this information was already provided elsewhere, there was no reason to include it on the SIDs.