EASA Takeoff Minimums Explained

EASA Takeoff Minimums: How Low Can You Go?

In the USA, the FAA establishes takeoff minimums for every airport that has published Standard Instrument Approaches. Commercially operated aircraft uses these minimums. Part 91, pilots typically don't have takeoff minimums. The exception to this is if you accept any instrument departure procedure, you must follow the required minimums for the procedure, even under Part 91. If you can't meet the takeoff minimums or climb requirements, you have the option to decline the clearance and see what other options ATC has for you. AIS charts list takeoff minimums only for the runways at airports that have other than standard minimums.

EASA has some different ideas on takeoff minimums for Private/GA operations. There ARE takeoff minimums. This is true for the airport AND the pilot operating the jet. Here is a closer look.

First off, every measurement inside EASA is in meters. There are many different conversions methods. ICAO Annex 5 has the official source. Inside the 2018 International Flight Operations Guide there is a conversion table on Page #387. 

In the “Duh” Category

EASA allows pilots to use “Commercial Sources” to determine the airport operating minimums, AOM and requires a safe departure above the AOM. You are to use RVR as the first and best measurement of visibility, then reported tower visibility and lastly pilot’s evaluation may be used is specific cases. More on pilot vis evaluation shortly. Final approach and takeoff obstacles must me lighted at night with hazard lights.

800M/2,600Ft RVR

SPA.LVO.115 directs that EASA aerodromes are required to develop and maintain Low Visibility Procedures, LVP. This means that ILS critical areas are protected from ground interference and certain other local measures may begin such as single-aircraft taxi clearances. In a strange twist for USA Part 91 Operators, this same EASA regulation requires “State Approval” for operations below 800M. Your instrument qualification and currency are the FAA’s “State Approved” method for this.

750M/2400RVR “Standard” EASA Landing Minimums

Based upon approach and runway lighting available, this can be lower (a separate discussion on failed components vs. HUD and FD operations). 750 is the standard and is operationally the point that pilots need to start thinking about Takeoff Alternates. 60mins cruising time at the One-Engine inoperative speed is the max limit for 2-engined aircraft and 90-mins for One-Engine inoperative,3-engined aircraft. In another strange twist for USA 91 operators, EASA always requires a Takeoff Alternate if the aerodrome is “Isolated” This is defined as an all-engine cruising time of 90mins to a suitable airfield.

500M/1,600Ft RVR

For day takeoffs, no specific markings or runway lights are required. The pilot MAY assess the initial takeoff run visibility and use this over the given RVR. There is a standard runway light spacing that helps with this estimation. 8 edge lights at 60M spacing or 33 Centerline at 15M spacing. The trouble is not ALL runways have standard spacing and without some serious digging into the AIP you won't know the difference.  

The pilots must also maintain directional control during the takeoff. If you can sincerely agree, “I can see enough to maintain directional control” via runway lights, markings and from other visual queues that are available… you are EASA legal to begin the takeoff roll

400M/1,300Ft RVR

For day takeoffs, at least runway edge lights OR runway centerline markings are required. So...if snow, ice, sand ect are covering the runway markings …runway edge lights are the critical piece. The pilot MAY assess the initial takeoff run visibility and use this over the given RVR.

For night takeoffs, at least runway edge lights OR runway centerline lights and runway end lights are the critical parts. Runway markings are not required. The pilot MAY assess the initial takeoff run visibility and use this over the given RVR.

In both cases of day or night operations there is no latitude given for partially function lights, all functional or might as well be none.

300M/1,000Ft RVR, Low Visibility Takeoff, “LVTO”

For operations below this point, EASA spells out pilot training. SPO.LVO.120 requires detailed simulator syllabus operating at 300M/1,000Ft RVR that covers normal takeoffs, takeoff engine failures, takeoff engine failures between V1 and V2. There is even recurrent training requirement once every 18mos for non-HUD operators and once every 12mos for HUD operations. There is an aircraft performance requirement of aborting the takeoff or climbing to make 1,500AGL. This is similar to FAR 25.101.

For day takeoffs, runway edge lights AND runway centerline markings are required. Here again....if snow, ice, sand ect are covering the runway markings … you are not going. The pilot MAY assess the initial takeoff run visibility and use this over the given RVR.

For night takeoffs, runway edge lights and runway end lights OR runway centerline lights and runway end lights are the controlling parts. The pilot MAY assess the initial takeoff run visibility and use this over the given RVR.

200M/700Ft RVR

For day and night takeoffs, runway edge lights AND runway centerline lights are required. The pilot MAY assess the initial takeoff run visibility and use this over the given RVR.

150M/500Ft RVR

For day and night takeoffs, runway edge lights AND runway centerline lights are required. The pilot MAYNOT assess the initial takeoff run area visibility and use this over the given RVR. Three RVRs are required, Touchdown, Midfield and Rollout. All need to be reporting and all must be above 150M/500Ft RVR.

125M/400Ft RVR

For day and night takeoffs, High–intensity runway edge lights AND High–intensity runway centerline lights are required. The spacing must be standard (CTR Line 15m, RWY Edge 60M) or less. The pilots MAYNOT assess the initial takeoff run area visibility and use this over the given RVR. Three RVRs are required, Touchdown, Midfield and Rollout. All need to be reporting and all must be above 125M/400Ft RVR.

75M/200Ft RVR

For day and night takeoffs, CAT III operations are the requirement or a HUD landing system. The pilot MAYNOT assesses the initial takeoff run area visibility and uses this over the given RVR. Three RVRs are required, Touchdown, Midfield and Rollout. All need to be reporting and all must be above 75M/200Ft RVR.
 

Bottomline

EASA is not the FAA and requires certain “Commercial Like” elements from US Part 91 operators

Below 800M/2600 things such as runway lights, markings and pilot training are as controlling as the visibility to EASA.

VMC is a wonderful thing