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Brief These 7 Things Before Every Instrument Departure

When was the last time you flew a complex IFR departure? Before your next flight, review these critical briefing items.

1) NAVAID Frequency

During your briefing, make sure you're referencing the correct NAVAID for DME or course. Imagine starting your airplane and glancing down to see that the DME reads .5 from NAV 1. It's the frequency you just used to fly the ILS approach, but you're supposed to reference a nearby VOR on the departure procedure for DME.

When a DME reading "seems" correct, you're much less likely to notice the error. Failing to reference the correct NAVAID could result in failing to meet proper climb restrictions.

2) Climb-Out Instructions

If you're using an EFB like ForeFlight or Jeppesen FD Pro, use the highlighter tool over the parts of the procedure you'll be flying. This is especially helpful when one chart has multiple procedures on it.


3) Altitude Restrictions

Altitude restrictions may come in the form of bottom, top, or crossing altitudes. Brief the most imminent altitudes and ensure you've set your altitude bug correctly.

4) Speed Restrictions

Don't forget to brief applicable speed restrictions on departure. When flying out of busy airspace, you may be required to fly as fast as possible. Maintaining speed may be critical to safe aircraft separation.


5) Takeoff Minimums

Are there unusual takeoff minimums? Get into the habit of briefing your takeoff minimums, even if the weather is good. On a bad day, remembering the brief the minimums will be extremely important.


6) Meeting Climb Gradients

Do you have the climb performance to meet climb gradient requirements? Especially in mountainous terrain, ensure you've briefed how you plan to meet or exceed climb gradients.


7) Autopilot Usage

Brief how AND when you plan to use an autopilot. When you're busy, you can use the autopilot to help you split workload. You may find yourself with more time to dedicate to other important procedures once the autopilot is on. If the autopilot does something unexpected, however, you may want to disengage and hand-fly.


What else do you brief on instrument departures? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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