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3 Answers

IFR Departure Heading from Towered Airport

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Instrument Rating

When departing IFR from a towered airport and assigned a heading to fly on departure, am I still responsible for obstacle clearance, or is the tower now responsible? Does it make any difference if my clearance starts with "Cleared via radar vectors..."? From other answers on this site, its clear that the pilot retains all responsibility at a non-towered field, but with diverse vectoring areas and various levels of tower radar service, how do you know when ATC is looking out for you and when they're not?

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3 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Apr 04, 2014

    If you are being provided radar vectors ATC is responsible for you obstacle clearance. Please read AIM 5-2-8. As always, if the clearance received would place you in the side of the mountain it would be wise to do whatever it takes not to become part of the mountain.

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  2. Koehn on Apr 04, 2014

    You are always responsible for obstacle clearance. ATC is supposed to vector you away from obstacles, but the consequences of of ATC failing to do so are more severe for you than for them.

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  3. John D Collins on Apr 05, 2014

    A heading assigned by the tower on departure is not a vector. You are not on a vector until ATC identifies you with radar contact and gives you a heading to fly. Just radar contact is not a vector. When you are on a vector, ATC is required to provide for terrain and obstacle clearance. Regardless, it is always your responsibility to avoid terrain and obstruction clearance.

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