Chapter 5. Emergency Services
Section 1. General
5-1-1. EMERGENCY DETERMINATION
a. Because of the infinite variety of possible
emergency situations, specific procedures cannot be
prescribed. However, when it is believed that an
emergency exists or is imminent, take a course of
action which appears to be most appropriate under the
circumstances and which most nearly conforms to the
instructions in this manual.
b. An emergency can be either a DISTRESS or
URGENCY condition, as defined in the
A pilot who encounters a DISTRESS condition may
declare an emergency by beginning the initial
communication with the word MAYDAY, preferably
repeated three times. For an URGENCY condition, the
word PAN璓AN may be used in the same manner.
c. If the words MAYDAY or PAN璓AN are not
used, and there is doubt that a situation constitutes an
emergency or potential emergency, handle it as
though it is an emergency.
d. Consider an aircraft emergency exists and
inform the appropriate control facility when:
1. An emergency is declared by any of the
(a) The pilot.
(b) Facility personnel.
(c) Officials responsible for the operation of
2. Reports indicate that the aircraft's operating
efficiency is so impaired that a forced landing may
3. Reports indicate the crew has abandoned the
aircraft or is about to do so.
4. Intercept or escort services are requested.
5. The need for ground rescue appears likely.
6. An Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
signal is heard or reported.
FAAO 7110.10, Para 5c, Responsibility
FAAO 7110.10, Para 5, .Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
a. If 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 better
handling of the emergency will result.
b. Upon receipt of information about an aircraft in
distress, forward detailed data to the appropriate
control facility in whose area the emergency exists.
Notifying the appropriate control facility about a VFR
aircraft emergency allows provision of IFR separation if
c. The ARTCC is responsible for consolidation of
all pertinent ELT signal information. Notify the
ARTCC of all heard or reported ELT signals.
5-1-3. OBTAINING INFORMATION
Obtain enough information to handle the emergency
intelligently. Base decisions about the type of
assistance needed on information and requests
received from the pilot. 14 CFR Part 91 authorizes the
pilot to determine a course of action.
a. Request assistance from other facilities as soon
as possible, particularly if radar or direction finder
(DF) service is available.
b. Coordinate efforts to the extent possible to
assist any aircraft believed overdue, lost, or in
5-1-5. PROVIDING ASSISTANCE
a. Provide maximum assistance to aircraft in
distress. If the aircraft is transponder璭quipped and
not on an IFR flight plan, instruct the pilot to squawk
SQUAWK SEVEN SEVEN ZERO ZERO.
b. Enlist the service of available radar and DF
5-1-6. RECORDING INFORMATION
Record all actions taken in the provision of
5-1-7. SAFE ALTITUDES FOR
a. Providing a safe altitude, during an orientation,
is advisory in nature.
b. Safe altitude computations, once the aircraft
position is known, are as follows:
1. Locate the maximum elevation figure on the
appropriate VFR sectional chart.
2. To the maximum elevation figure,
(a) Add 1,000 feet over non璵ountainous
(b) Add 2,000 feet over mountainous terrain.
3. Designated mountainous/non璵ountainous
areas are found in Title 14 CFR, Part 95, subpart b.