Diverse Vector Area (DVA)
What in the heck is that!? Well let’s translate from FAA to English: It’s an area that’s been pre-cleared by a FAA survey crew to ensure you will have obstacle protection if you accept a radar vector on departure from ATC.
This means that as long as you comply with the restrictions in the DIVERSE VECTOR AREA section of the TAKEOFF MINIMUMS booklet, you will be guaranteed obstacle protection. As an example, let’s take a look at departing from runway 16 in Belingham, Washington.
When taking off from KBLI on runway 16, you have a couple options for avoiding terrain. One is the textual ODP, the other would simply be to take a vector to your assigned route from ATC. You can safely do this if you have the ability to maintain a minimum climb gradient of 360′ per nm up to 2,700′ msl (doubt you’ll be able to comply with that in a heavily loaded 172, or a piston twin after one engine fails).
The idea here is that after reaching 2,700′, the standard 200′ per nm climb will give you enough protection for whatever direction ATC sends you, but you need to get up to 2,700′ a little steeper than usual.
This can be a great tool to “double check” ATC and make sure that they are keeping you safe. Since Minimum Vectoring Altitudes are not published for pilots to read, and we never really know if a controller is having a “human” moment and making an error vectoring us into terrain, using a published procedure like a SID, ODP, or DVA will help you stay alive longer so you can continue donating your money to AVFUEL and ROUTE 66!