Air Traffic Organization Policy

JO 7110.65T
Effective Date:
February 11, 2010
Subject:  Air Traffic Control

Includes: Change 1 dated 8/26/2010, Change 2 and Errata dated 3/10/2011, and Change 3 dated 8/25/2011



Chapter 10. Emergencies

Section 1. General


a. An emergency can be either a Distress or an Urgency condition as defined in the “Pilot/Controller Glossary.”

b. A pilot who encounters a Distress condition should declare an emergency by beginning the initial communication with the word “Mayday,” preferably repeated three times. For an Urgency condition, the word “Pan-Pan” should be used in the same manner.

c. If the words “Mayday” or “Pan-Pan” are not used and you are in doubt that a situation constitutes an emergency or potential emergency, handle it as though it were an emergency.

d. Because of the infinite variety of possible emergency situations, specific procedures cannot be prescribed. However, when you believe an emergency exists or is imminent, select and pursue a course of action which appears to be most appropriate under the circumstances and which most nearly conforms to the instructions in this manual.

FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 9-2-7, IFR Military Training Routes.


Obtain enough information to handle the emergency intelligently. Base your decision as to what type of assistance is needed on information and requests received from the pilot because he/she is authorized by 14 CFR Part 91 to determine a course of action.


Provide maximum assistance to aircraft in distress. Enlist the services of available radar facilities and DF facilities operated by the FAA, the military services, and the Federal Communications Commission, as well as their emergency services and facilities, when the pilot requests or when you deem necessary.

FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 2-1-4, Operational Priority.


a. If you are in communication with an aircraft in distress, handle the emergency and coordinate and direct the activities of assisting facilities. Transfer this responsibility to another facility only when you feel better handling of the emergency will result.

b. When you receive information about an aircraft in distress, forward detailed data to the center in whose area the emergency exists.

Centers serve as the central points for collecting information, for coordinating with SAR, and for conducting a communications search by distributing any necessary ALNOTs concerning:
a. Overdue or missing IFR aircraft.
b. Aircraft in an emergency situation occurring in their respective area.
c. Aircraft on a combination VFR/IFR or an airfiled IFR flight plan and 30 minutes have passed since the pilot requested IFR clearance and neither communication nor radar contact can be established with it. For SAR purposes, these aircraft are treated the same as IFR aircraft.
d. Overdue or missing aircraft which have been authorized to operate in accordance with special VFR clearances.

2. Notifying the center about a VFR aircraft emergency allows provision of IFR separation if considered necessary.

FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 10-2-5, Emergency Situations.
FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 10-3-2, Information to be Forwarded to ARTCC.
FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 10-3-3, Information to be Forwarded to RCC.

c. If the aircraft involved is operated by a foreign air carrier, notify the center serving the departure or destination point, when either point is within the U.S., for relay to the operator of the aircraft.

d. The ARTCC shall be responsible for receiving and relaying all pertinent ELT signal information to the appropriate authorities.

FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 10-2-10, Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) Signals.

e. When consideration is given to the need to escort an aircraft in distress, evaluate the close formation required by both aircraft. Special consideration should be given if the maneuver takes the aircraft through the clouds.

f. Before a determination is made to have an aircraft in distress be escorted by another aircraft, ask the pilots if they are familiar with and capable of formation flight.

1. Do not allow aircraft to join up in formation during emergency conditions, unless:

(a) The pilots involved are familiar with and capable of formation flight.

(b) They can communicate with one another, and have visual contact with each other.

2. If there is a need for aircraft that are not designated as search and rescue aircraft to get closer to one another than radar separation standards allow, the maneuver shall be accomplished, visually, by the aircraft involved.


Coordinate efforts to the extent possible to assist any aircraft believed overdue, lost, or in emergency status.



a. When an emergency occurs on the airport proper, control other air and ground traffic to avoid conflicts in the area where the emergency is being handled. This also applies when routes within the airport proper are required for movement of local emergency equipment going to or from an emergency which occurs outside the airport proper.

Aircraft operated in proximity to accident or other emergency or disaster locations may cause hindrances to airborne and surface rescue or relief operations. Congestion, distraction or other effects, such as wake turbulence from nearby airplanes and helicopters, could prevent or delay proper execution of these operations.

FAAO JO 7210.3, Chapter 19, Temporary Flight Restrictions.
14 CFR Section 91.137, Temporary Flight Restrictions.

b. Workload permitting, monitor the progress of emergency vehicles responding to a situation. If necessary, provide available information to assist responders in finding the accident/incident scene.


a. The design and complexity of military fighter-type aircraft places an extremely high workload on the pilot during an inflight emergency. The pilot's full attention is required to maintain control of the aircraft. Therefore, radio frequency and transponder code changes should be avoided and radio transmissions held to a minimum, especially when the aircraft experiencing the emergency is at low altitude.

b. Pilots of military fighter-type aircraft, normally single engine, experiencing or anticipating loss of engine power or control may execute a flameout pattern in an emergency situation. Circumstances may dictate that the pilot, depending on the position and nature of the emergency, modify the pattern based on actual emergency recovery requirements.

c. Military airfields with an assigned flying mission may conduct practice emergency approaches. Participating units maintain specific procedures for conducting these operations.

FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 3-10-13, Simulated Flameout (SFO) Approaches/Emergency Landing Pattern (ELP) Operations/Practice Precautionary Approaches.


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