Order 7610.4J: Special Military Operations
Effective Date: November 3, 1998
Chapter 7. ESCORT OF HIJACKED AIRCRAFT
Chapter 7. ESCORT OF HIJACKED AIRCRAFT
Section 1. GENERAL
The FAA hijack coordinator (the Director or his designate of the FAA Office of Civil Aviation Security) on duty at Washington headquarters will request the military to provide an escort aircraft for a confirmed hijacked aircraft to:
7-1-2. REQUESTS FOR SERVICE
The escort service will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC). Normally, NORAD escort aircraft will take the required action. However, for the purpose of these procedures, the term "escort aircraft" applies to any military aircraft assigned to the escort mission. When the military can provide escort aircraft, the NMCC will advise the FAA hijack coordinator the identification and location of the squadron tasked to provide escort aircraft. NMCC will then authorize direct coordination between FAA and the designated military unit. When a NORAD resource is tasked, FAA will coordinate through the appropriate SOCC/ROCC.
7-1-3. HANDLING PRIORITY
When the situation requires an expedited departure of the escort aircraft, the aircraft shall be afforded priority consideration over other departing aircraft.
7-1-4. CONTROL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR U.S. AIRSPACE
7-1-5. CONTROL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR CANADIAN AIRSPACE
Escort aircraft entering Canadian airspace from the U.S. shall be
transferred to NORAD control
7-1-6. AIR/GROUND COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY
Except when specifically directed otherwise by FAA headquarters, every precaution shall be taken to prevent the hijacker/s from gaining knowledge that an escort is being conducted. When communicating with escort aircraft, ensure that transmissions are made on a different frequency from the one being used to communicate with the hijacked aircraft and are not simultaneously broadcast on a frequency which can be overheard by the hijacked aircraft.
7-1-7. WEATHER/FLIGHT SAFETY LIMITATIONS
If weather conditions or other flight safety factors make the escort mission impractical, the mission shall be terminated by the controller or the pilot, and the FAA headquarters hijack coordinator shall be advised immediately. The pilot of the escort aircraft will keep the controller advised of adverse weather or any other hazardous conditions. The pilot will immediately terminate the mission if radio contact with the control facility is lost, maintaining the last assigned altitude and/or radio failure procedures unless the pilot has received specific instructions to the contrary.
Section 2. ESCORT PROCEDURES
7-2-1. FACILITY NOTIFICATION
The FAA hijack coordinator will advise the appropriate center/control tower of the identification of the military unit and location tasked to provide the hijack escort. The center/control tower shall coordinate with the designated NORAD SOCC/ROCC/military unit advising of the hijack aircraft's location, direction of flight, altitude, type aircraft and recommended flight plan to intercept the hijack aircraft. The center/control tower shall file the coordinated flight plan.
7-2-2. PILOT NOTIFICATION
Escort aircraft shall be vectored to a position 5 miles directly behind the hijacked aircraft. The vectors shall be planned to approach the hijacked aircraft from the rear to avoid the possibility of being observed and to position the escort aircraft at the same altitude, speed, and heading as the hijacked aircraft.
7-2-4. RADAR REQUIREMENTS
Normally, radar contact with both aircraft is required. However, if the pilot of the escort aircraft has the hijacked aircraft in visual contact, the mission may continue without radar contact.
7-2-5. AIRPORT LIMITATIONS
When the hijacked aircraft descends for the purpose of landing at an airport within the continental U.S., the escort aircraft will not follow the hijacked aircraft into airspace delegated to an approach control facility. The FAA facility controlling the aircraft or within whose airspace the aircraft is operating shall issue instructions to the pilot or to the military control facility for the aircraft to hold at a specified altitude and location and wait for further instructions.
7-2-6. RESPONSIBILITIES PRIOR TO JOIN-UP
Until the escort aircraft has joined-up with the hijacked aircraft, the pilot shall be kept informed of the hijacked aircraft heading, speed, altitude, and destination (if known); also, its range and position relative to the escort aircraft. For fighter/interceptor aircraft, the application of "optimum cruise" will normally ensure sufficient overtake during the "join-up" phase. Assign an altitude which is either the altitude of the hijacked aircraft or the optimum altitude requested by the escort aircraft pilot when the hijacked aircraft is at a lower altitude. Descend the escort aircraft to the altitude of the hijacked aircraft prior to reaching a point 30 miles from the target. When the hijacked aircraft is at a low altitude where communications between the escort aircraft and the control facility would be questionable, a second escort aircraft (which will normally be available when NORAD interceptors are being utilized) may be stationed at a higher altitude near the hijacked aircraft's position for relay of information between the control facility and the escort aircraft maintaining visual surveillance.
7-2-7. POSITIONING INSTRUCTIONS
Unless the escort pilot has a visual contact, plan the join-up at 30 miles and issue positioning instructions.
7-2-8. TERMINATION HEADING
When terminating the escort for purposes of recovery, repositioning, refueling, etc., issue a heading of at least 90 degrees from the hijacked aircraft's heading.
Section 3. REPLACEMENT/RECOVERY OF ESCORT AIRCRAFT
7-3-1. REPLACEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES
Replacement of escort aircraft which must be recovered prior to hijack
mission termination will be accomplished automatically by the military. To aid the
military in planning for replacement aircraft and recovery airfields, "fuel
state" shall be obtained from the pilot and relayed as requested. Replacement
aircraft, if available, will be dispatched to assume the airborne escort role prior to
7-3-2. RECOVERY RESPONSIBILITIES
Recovery requirements and the selection of the recovery field is the
responsibility of the military command. The hijack coordinator will advise the
ARTCC/CERAP controlling the escort when
Return-to-base shall be accomplished under FAA control. Escort aircraft under military control when the escort mission is terminated will be transferred to FAA control as soon as practicable.
7-3-4. REFUELING OPERATIONS
When refueling operations are conducted, the procedures in Chapter 10 shall apply.
Section 4. FORWARDING INFORMATION
7-4-1. FAA HEADQUARTERS REQUIREMENTS
FAA facilities shall respond to directions issued by the FAA hijack coordinator concerning hijack incidents and keep Emergency Operations Staff (ADA-20) informed of the progress of the escort missions. ADA-20 will establish communications conferencing as required.
7-4-2. POSITION REPORTS WITHIN NORAD RADAR COVERAGE
When the hijacking activity is within coverage of the NORAD surveillance
7-4-3. POSITION REPORTS OUTSIDE NORAD RADAR COVERAGE
When the hijacking activity takes place outside NORAD radar coverage
within the continental United States, the ARTCC/CERAP controlling the activity shall
forward position reports to the appropriate NORAD/SOCC/ROCC Senior Director. The
position reports shall be forwarded
Section 5. MISSION TERMINATION
7-5-1. TERMINATION AUTHORITY
The escort mission may be terminated by FAA headquarters, the National Military Command Center, or major military command authority. Termination of the mission shall be relayed to the escort aircraft by the controlling facility.
7-5-2. OVERFLIGHT CLEARANCE
Escort aircraft shall not be cleared to overfly boundaries of foreign
countries other than Canada without overflight approval. The appropriate air traffic
control facility will be informed of overflight approval prior to the hijacked aircraft
exiting U.S. airspace. When the escort aircraft is being controlled by an FAA
facility, overflight approval will be received through the FAA hijack coordinator.
The pilot shall be informed of the overflight approval upon receipt.