June 26, 2015

The FAA implemented the next phase of the Washington, DC Metroplex effort on June 25. New and revised SIDs are being implemented at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Andrews AFB (ADW), Manassas Regional Airport (HEF) and Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI).

Of particular interest to business aviation are two new RNAV SIDs at HEF. “These will have top altitudes published on the procedure that should greatly help with the issues of altitude busts that they have been experiencing at this airport,” noted Rich Boll, chair of the Airspace, ATC and Flight Technologies Working Group of the NBAA Access Committee.

If the operator does not want to depart using the RNAV SIDs, they must amend their flight plan, Item 18, to include “NAV/RNV D0,” Boll said.

“This is a issue in all areas, not just Washington, DC,” he added. “Some operators do not wish to use RNAV SIDs or RNAV STARs, and think [incorrectly] that if they file the conventional SID/STAR, ATC will assign those conventional procedures to them. However, the FAA’s computers use the ICAO flight plan codes to determine which procedure to assign, and most of the conventional SIDs are not in ATC’s flight plan computers.”

If an operator files a conventional SID with RNAV SID codes, the FAA computer will assign the RNAV SID. If the operator includes the correct “NAV/RNV D0” code in Item 18 but also files the conventional SID by name, the FAA’s computer will reject the flight plan as it is not “adapted” in their computer system, Boll warned.

Operators should take note of the following:

  • These new SIDs will be “ATC assigned only” by NOTAM until approximately June 29, allowing operators time to update their charts and databases. Do not file these procedures until these NOTAMs are canceled.
  • The new RNAV SIDs are “adapted” in FAA’s ERAM flight plan system. If operators include the applicable “D” code in Item 10 of the ICAO/FAA flight plan, the aircraft can expect to be assigned the applicable RNAV SID.
  • Do not file the conventional CPTAL9 or the NATNL5 SIDs. Operators not wishing to use the RNAV SID must include in Item 18 “NAV/RNV D0” for NO RNAV SIDs. ATC will assign the applicable conventional SID. Including the conventional SID by name in the flight plan will result in a flight plan rejection message.
  • Pilots should file the RIGNZ ONE and JCOBY ONE departures from IAD. Only Part 121 operators may file these SID due to their proximity to the Washington, DC Flight Restriction Zone.
  • DCA operations should not file the LAZIR RNAV SID. This procedure will be discontinued on June 29. If the operator includes the applicable “D” code in Item 10 of the ICAO/FAA flight plan, the appropriate RNAV SID will be assigned for departure from DCA.

Pilots must use the appropriate “climb via” phraseology on initial contact with ATC. Doing so informs ATC that the pilot will comply with all altitude restriction published on the SID, and it also assists ATC in identifying the SID that the aircraft is flying on the departure. For example, “Gulfstream 1245, leaving one thousand, climbing via the RNLDI Four Departure.”

“Correct use of climb via not only conveys to the controller that the pilot will vertically navigate the SID to comply with all published altitude restrictions, but it also informs the controller of which SID the aircraft is using for the departure,” said Boll. “This is very important because most conventional SIDs in the Washington, DC area are radar vector SIDs. The controller must provide headings after the initial contact.”

Review the FAA’s information on the DC Metroplex effort.