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IFR Fix: Early turn to IPIHOIFR Fix: Early turn to IPIHO

A pilot takes off from California's Van Nuys Airport on an IFR clearance that includes flying the Canoga Two Departure. Unfortunately, the pilot skips a key step when flying the standard instrument departure (SID). What happens next?

A standard instrument departure is depicted as it should be flown, and showing how some pilots are turning too soon, creating air traffic control headaches in the vicinity of California's Van Nuys Airport. Image courtesy FAA.

SIDs “are primarily designed for system enhancement and to reduce pilot/controller workload,” according to the Instrument Flying Handbook. If an airport you use has one or more SIDs, you can study them in graphic form and read a narrative description that takes you step by step through the process of flying them.

On government charts, the Canoga Two Departure is published in two pages; the first provides a graphic depiction of the routing, and at the bottom there’s a note: “Narrative on following page.” Lately it has seemed that not everyone who flies the procedure is going over the narrative.

After takeoff, the Canoga Two Departure takes you to a point at which you must “expect radar vectors to IPIHO INT,” but recent evidence suggests that some folks flying the SID—and other procedures in places including Teterboro, New Jersey—aren’t reading the fine print, as the FAA has pointed out lately.

On June 8, Van Nuys Tower flagged the errant trend it was observing on several SIDs with a Letter to Airmen noting that “there has been an increase in pilot deviations during the last 18 months.”

“A review of these deviations showed most are occurring when pilots on the SIDs departing from Van Nuys Airport are commencing a turn on course prior to being issued radar vectors from the Southern California TRACON controller,” the letter said.

So what happens when a pilot blows a SID? What may seem like a minor mistake can create a mountain of possible conflicts.

Van Nuys Tower spelled out the problems, including causing aircraft to "lose separation with those flying into Burbank Airport" on Runway 8; causing aircraft to "lose separation with obstruction and terrain clearances"; and “other indirect separation issues for aircraft landing at both Los Angeles International Airport and Santa Monica Municipal Airport.”

The letter also contains the graphic shown here; it compares how the procedure is intended to be flown to the point of receiving radar vectors, and how some pilots have flown it instead.

A graphic depiction of an instrument procedure may seem self-explanatory, but if the published procedure includes a narrative description, turn the page on trouble, and read it.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: ATC, IFR, Collision Avoidance

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