The Morristown Six SID
Although the Morristown Six could easily be confused with a ’60s rock-and-roll band, the name actually applies to a standard instrument departure procedure, also known as a SID. SIDs look and feel different from traditional approach procedures, often including far more information arranged in a complex layout some pilots might find confusing.
Air traffic control may issue a SID as part of an IFR clearance to speed the process of moving traffic and reduce the opportunity for communications errors by controllers and pilots. Rather than the clearance delivery controller repeating essentially the same lengthy instructions over and over, use of a SID allows each aircraft to receive detailed instructions about its route in a format the pilot can review before even cranking the engine. A SID will normally include an initial heading and altitude the pilot is expected to fly. The procedure begins when the aircraft takes off, and can vary depending upon the departure runway. Initial departure instructions generally appear in text and graphical format. SIDs make ATC’s role of providing the proper separation between aircraft easier since controllers can expect each departing aircraft to fly the same published track.
A— While the Morristown Six SID might appear a bit complicated at first glimpse, the key is knowing what “fix” along the route comes first. The pilot then uses the information associated with that fix, or transition, and can pretty much ignore the rest. The remainder of the information on the SID allows ATC to send departures in a variety of directions, knowing they’ll remain separated from each other.
B— Instructions, such as those for aircraft departing Runway 31, demand close attention. Not only are there specific headings and altitudes — “Climbing right turn on SBJ R-052 to 1,700’, then climbing right turn heading 160 to 2,000’,” but also a specific climb rate “per nautical mile” to some point along the departure. Note the climb rate is in feet per nautical mile, not feet per minute. Cockpit instruments don’t typically display feet per nautical mile, although a conversion chart on the SID allows the pilot to perform the calculations.
C — When departing Runway 31, the MMU 6 requires a minimum climb rate of 342 feet per nautical mile to 1,500 feet msl. Use of this SID demands specific takeoff minimums too. In the case of Runway 31, that’s a ceiling of at least 500 feet and a visibility of 1 mile.
D — It’s not uncommon for a SID clearance to omit the departure control frequency. On a takeoff from Runway 23, the pilot would be expected to review the SID and understand that New York It is not mandatory to accept a SID. If pilots prefer not to use one, they can make ATC’s life a bit easier by adding “No SIDs or DPs” to their flight plan. Keep in mind that refusing a SID might create some delays to your departure. However, a slight delay might be preferable to cockpit confusion once airborne in airspace as busy as New York’s.
H — Listening to the ATIS before calling clearance delivery can tip off the pilot on whether or not a SID is in use, and if so, which one. This offers the pilot a few moments to review the procedure before hearing anything on the radio. It also makes copying the clearance later a bit easier.
G — Coping with a loss of communication while flying the MMU 6 could differ from the standard practices most pilots might use. On this procedure, aircraft filed over specific fixes are required to climb to 3,000 feet once they cross the SBJ R-047.
F— A good practice is to load the actual “departure procedure” into the GPS and/or FMS system, allowing it to populate all the points along the route. With those points displayed, selecting one becomes much easier when ATC says, “Proceed direct…”
E— Pilots should not expect “on course” or “on route” to a “filed altitude” until 10 minutes after departure. Departure’s frequency is 119.2, data displayed in the upper left corner of the chart.