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Revised In-flight Contingency Procedures To Be Used In Oceanic Operations

 Effective February 16, 2006

 FAA Domestic/International NOTAM Book.  This notice will be posted in the

January 19, 2006 edition of the FAA Domestic/International NOTAM book.  It will be located in:  Part 3 (International), Section 2 (International Oceanic Airspace Notices), Pacific notices and Atlantic notices.  (http://www.faa.gov/NTAP/index.htm).   It will also be posted on the Oceanic Operations Standards Group Webpage (http://www.faa.gov/ats/ato/130.htm).

 Effective Date/Time and Airspace.  Effective on February 16, 2006 at 0901 UTC, the guidance for in-flight contingencies in oceanic airspace will be ICAO Doc 4444 (Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Air Traffic Management), section 15.2 (SPECIAL PROCEDURES FOR IN-FLIGHT CONTINGENCIES IN OCEANIC AIRSPACE).  The effective date for the guidance has been coordinated with the Air Traffic Services providers in the Atlantic and Pacific.  The guidance will, therefore, be applicable in all Pacific and Atlantic oceanic FIRs including Oakland, Anchorage, New York and San Juan Oceanic. 

 Discussion.  The only significant procedural change from in-flight contingency procedures previously published in ICAO Regional Supplementary Procedures

(Doc 7030) is to the track offset.   The track offset has been changed to 15nm for contingencies requiring the aircraft to depart cleared altitude and/or track prior to obtaining a revised clearance.   In the “General Procedures” section below, see paragraphs 3b and 4.  

 NOTE: Prior to this harmonization, the track offset for in-flight contingencies was 30nm in the North Atlantic (NAT) and 25nm in Pacific airspace. 

 ICAO DOC 4444, SECTION 15.2




 1.  Although all possible contingencies cannot be covered, these procedures provide for the more frequent cases such as:

             a. Inability to maintain assigned flight level due to meteorological conditions, aircraft performance or
                 pressurization failure;

 b. En route diversion across the prevailing traffic flow; and

 c. Loss of, or significant reduction in, the required navigation capability when operating in an airspace where the navigation performance accuracy is a prerequisite to the safe conduct of flight operations.

 2.  These procedures are applicable primarily when rapid descent and/or turn-back or diversion is required. The pilot’s judgement shall determine the sequence of actions to be taken, having regard to the prevailing circumstances.  Air traffic control shall render all possible assistance.


 1. If an aircraft is unable to continue the flight in accordance with its ATC clearance, and/or an aircraft is unable to maintain the navigation performance accuracy specified for the airspace, a revised clearance shall be obtained, whenever possible, prior to initiating any action.

 2. The radiotelephony distress signal (MAYDAY) or urgency signal (PAN PAN) preferably spoken three times shall be used as appropriate. Subsequent ATC action with respect to that aircraft shall be based on the intentions of the pilot and the overall air traffic situation.

 3. If prior clearance cannot be obtained, an ATC clearance shall be obtained at the earliest possible time and, until a revised clearance is received, the pilot shall:

 a. Leave the assigned route or track by initially turning 90 degrees to the right or to the left. When possible, the direction of the turn should be determined by the position of the aircraft relative to any organized route or track system.  Other factors which may affect the direction of the turn are:

 1) The direction to an alternate airport, terrain clearance;

 2) Any lateral offset being flown, and the flight levels allocated on adjacent routes or tracks. 

FAA NOTE:  a turn of less than or greater than 90 degrees may be required depending on the type of contingency and whether the pilot intends to continue in the same direction or reverse course.

 b. Following the turn, the pilot should:

 1) If unable to maintain the assigned flight level, initially minimize the rate of descent to the extent that is operationally feasible;

 2) Take account of other aircraft being laterally offset from its track;

 3) Acquire and maintain in either direction a track laterally separated by 28 km (15 NM) from the assigned route; and

 4) Once established on the offset track, climb or descend to select a flight level which differs from those normally used by 150 m (500 ft);

 c. Establish communications with and alert nearby aircraft by broadcasting, at suitable intervals: aircraft identification, flight level, position (including the ATS route designator or the track code, as appropriate) and intentions on the frequency in use and on 121.5 MHz (or, as a back-up, on the inter‑pilot air-to-air frequency 123.45 MHz);

 d. Maintain a watch for conflicting traffic both visually and by reference to ACAS (TCAS) (if equipped);

 e. Turn on all aircraft exterior lights (commensurate with appropriate operating limitations);

 f. Keep the SSR transponder on at all times; and

 g. Take action as necessary to ensure the safety of the aircraft.

 4. When leaving the assigned track to acquire and maintain the track laterally separated by 28 km (15 NM), the flight crew, should, where practicable, avoid overshooting the track to be acquired, particularly in airspace where a 55.5 km (30 NM) lateral separation minimum is applied.



 1. If the contingency procedures are employed by a twin-engine aircraft as a result of an engine shutdown or failure of an ETOPS critical system, the pilot should advise ATC as soon as practicable of the situation, reminding ATC of the type of aircraft involved, and request expeditious handling.

 (Flight Technologies and Procedures Division, 12/19/05)