July 12, 2018

In a letter to airmen, the control tower at California’s Van Nuys Airport (VNY) reported a growing number of pilot deviations over the past 18 months that are imposing a threat to aviation safety. In reviewing these deviations, most of them are pilots flying SIDs out of Van Nuys Airport who “are commencing a turn on course prior to being issued radar vectors from the Southern California Tracon controller.”

NBAA urges all business operators to “pre-brief, understand and comply with the departure procedures before departing from any airport, not just Van Nuys,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA director of air traffic services and infrastructure. “While the specific impacts of the Van Nuys’ letter to airmen are airport and airspace specific, the consequences for deviation from established procedures are universal.”

At Van Nuys, pilots flying a SID who make an early turn on course are causing aircraft to lose separation from those flying to Runway 8 at Burbank Airport (BUR). An early turn on course also causes aircraft to lose separation with obstruction and terrain clearances. And the early turn causes “indirect separation issues for aircraft landing at both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO).”

The Van Nuys’ letter to airmen included an example of a deviation on the CANOGA Two departure from Runway 16L/R, where pilots turn too early to the IPIHO intersection. “While this is only one example on one SIDs, these are the types of things we have seen on several SIDs departing Van Nuys Airport.” The FAA reminds pilots “to pay strict attention” to the Standard Instrument Departure procedure’s narrative. At Van Nuys, the critical instruction, as stated, is “expect radar vectors.”

“Proper due diligence is the key to aviation safety in all phases of flight regardless of location,” said Williams. “Deviating from published procedures can have significant consequences, so we ask all operators to do all they can to contribute to enhancing aviation safety.”

View the full letter to airmen.