Pilot's Tip of the Week

Obstacle Departure Procedure

Featuring Bob Nardiello

Subscriber question:

"I would like to know if Obstacle Departure Procedures are required or not in IMC? I know they are recommended, but have heard differing stories if they are required."
- Austin G.
Press to play audio


"Obstacle departure procedures (ODPs) are not assigned by ATC unless absolutely necessary to achieve aircraft separation. It is the pilot's responsibility to determine if there is an ODP published for that specific airport.

Obstacle departure procedureIf a Part 91 pilot is not given a clearance containing an ODP, a standard instrument departure (SID), or radar vectors and an ODP exists, compliance with such a procedure is the pilot's choice. If he/she chooses not to use the ODP, that pilot must be operating under visual meteorological conditions (VMC), which permits the avoidance of obstacles during the departure.

The pilot may be assigned an alternate procedure or route by air traffic control. If this clearance seems at odds with the published ODP, question ATC. Otherwise, execute the clearance without delay.

If the ODP is not included in the pilot's clearance, the pilot should
inform ATC when an ODP will be used for departure from a runway so that
ATC can ensure appropriate traffic separation.

It is important to be aware of the obstacle departure procedures, since the loss of communications with ATC may require you to go it alone. In this case, you could revert to the obstacle departure procedure to save your bacon."

[next_tip]Next week's tip: Cross-control stalls[/next_tip]

Get a cockpit view of ODP's and other instrument procedures in Real World IFR.