While at Henderson Executive airport you receive an IFR clearance containing the phraseology "Climb Via the PALLEY FIVE Departure, Coaldale Transition" and you receive no additional altitude assignments from ATC at what altitude should you cross DBIGE at?



2 Answers 2


As it reads:

....on assigned transition, maintain FL190, expect filed altitude 10 minutes after departure.

If no instructions are received after 10 minutes, remind the ATC. From the FAA FAQ:

Q. I am cleared to "Climb Via SID". What if there is a published altitude restriction at a fix that is higher than the charted "Top Altitude"?

A. You are only cleared to the charted "Top Altitude" contained in the narrative of the procedure, unless ATC assigns a different altitude.

From the AIM:

SIDs will have a "top altitude;" the "top altitude" is the charted "maintain" altitude contained in the procedure description or assigned by ATC.

Consider a charted top altitude as the equivalent to a verbal "except maintain." As "except maintain" also does not cancel the restrictions below it. I believe this makes it easier to remember.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ good point, but just for added clarification/emphasis, if you are climbing out on a previously issued "Climb Via" SID to the "top altitude" and then the controller subsequently issues a new instruction such as "N12345 maintain 15,000" then all crossing restrictions on the SID from where you are currently at to 15,000 are now cancelled. The key verbiage is a clearance or instruction that contains the words "Climb Via [SID]," or "Climb Via [SID], except maintain" then all of the SID altitude restrictions must be adhered to. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Feb 24, 2018 at 19:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To add, altitude restrictions cancelled when you get a new instruction to maintain a higher altitude is only true in the FAA airspace. Under ICAO rules, you're still expected to keep all altitude restrictions to the higher altitude unless you get "altitude restrictions cancelled." $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 12:13

If you are NOT “lost comm” then you will (should!) receive clearance above 190 well prior to DBIGE, and from that point, you need to cross it at/above 210.

If “you receive no additional altitude assignments from ATC” due to lost comm, follow your AVE-F and MEA rules, which will have you up to your filed cruise altitude, and you then need to cross DBIGE at/above 210.

If you are NOT lost comm, but haven’t gotten clearance higher, you need to ask ATC for that clearance, or relief on the crossing restriction.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ your second point above would apply if it was at least 10 mins after departure approaching DBIGE (which for this SID would be the case because of the long distance DBIGE is from the airport). However, there are likely other SIDs with a crossing restriction higher than the "top altitude" at a point closer to the airport (shorter than the normal "Expect Filed Altitude 10 minutes after departure" verbiage on the SID) In that case (if lost comm) you might be approaching the fix with the higher crossing altitude still at a lower "top altitude." (until 10 minutes after departure) $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Feb 24, 2018 at 23:22

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