2-1-4. OPERATIONAL PRIORITY
It is recognized that traffic flow may affect the controller's ability to provide priority handling. However, without compromising safety, good judgment must be used in each situation to facilitate the most expeditious movement of priority aircraft. Provide air traffic control service to aircraft on a “first come, first served” basis as circumstances permit, except the following:
NOTE: It is solely the pilot's prerogative to cancel an IFR flight plan. However, a pilot's retention of an IFR flight plan does not afford priority over VFR aircraft. For example, this does not preclude the requirement for the pilot of an arriving IFR aircraft to adjust his/her flight path, as necessary, to enter a traffic pattern in sequence with arriving VFR aircraft.
Treat air ambulance flights as follows:
- An aircraft in distress has the right of way over all other air traffic.
Provide priority handling and expedite the movement of presidential aircraft and entourage and any rescue support aircraft as well as related control messages when traffic conditions and communications facilities permit.
- Provide priority handling to civil air ambulance flights when the pilot, in radio transmissions, verbally identifies the flight by stating “MEDEVAC” followed by the FAA authorized call sign or the full civil registration letters/numbers. Good judgment must be used in each situation to facilitate the most expeditious movement of a MEDEVAC aircraft.
NOTE: If a flight plan includes the letter “L” for “MEDEVAC” and/or includes “MEDEVAC” in Item 11 (Remarks) of the flight plan or Item 18 (Other Information) of an international flight plan, the entries are considered informational in nature only and not an identification for operational priority.
- Provide priority handling to AIR EVAC and HOSP flights when verbally requested by the pilot.
If a flight plan includes “HOSP” or “AIR EVAC” in either Item 11 (Remarks) or Item 18 (Other Information) of an international flight plan, the entries are considered informational in nature only and not an identification for operational priority. For aircraft identification in radio transmissions, civilian pilots will use normal call signs when filing “HOSP” and military pilots will use the “EVAC” call sign.
- Assist the pilots of MEDEVAC, AIR EVAC, and HOSP aircraft to avoid areas of significant weather and adverse conditions.
- If requested by a pilot, provide additional assistance (i.e., landline notifications) to expedite ground handling of patients, vital organs, or urgently needed medical materials.
NOTE: As used herein the terms presidential aircraft and entourage include aircraft and entourage of the President, Vice President, or other public figures when designated by the White House.
Provide priority handling and maximum assistance to SAR aircraft performing a SAR mission.
Provide priority handling and maximum assistance to expedite the movement of interceptor aircraft on active air defense missions until the unknown aircraft is identified.
Provide priority handling to NIGHT WATCH aircraft when NAOC (pronounced NA-YOCK) is indicated in the remarks section of the flight plan or in air/ground communications.
- FAA Order JO 7110.65, Para 10-1-3, Providing Assistance.
NOTE: The term “NAOC” will not be a part of the call sign but may be used when the aircraft is airborne to indicate a request for special handling.
Provide priority handling to any civil or military aircraft using the code name “FLYNET.”
Provide priority handling to aircraft using the code name “Garden Plot” only when CARF notifies you that such priority is authorized. Refer any questions regarding flight procedures to CARF for resolution.
- FAA Order JO 7610.4, Para 12-1-1 Applications.
NOTE: Garden Plot flights require priority movement and are coordinated by the military with CARF. State authority will contact the Regional Administrator to arrange for priority of National Guard troop movements within a particular state.
Provide priority handling to USAF aircraft engaged in aerial sampling/surveying missions using the call sign “SAMP.”
Provide priority handling to Special Air Mission aircraft when SCOOT is indicated in the remarks section of the flight plan or used in air/ground communications.
NOTE: The term “SCOOT” will not be part of the call sign but may be used when the aircraft is airborne to indicate a request for special handling.
When requested, provide priority handling to TEAL and NOAA mission aircraft.
Provide priority handling to expedite the movement of OPEN SKIES Treaty observation and demonstration (F and D) flights.
- FAA Order JO 7610.4, Para 12-6-1, Applications.
NOTE: An Open Skies Treaty (F and D) aircraft has priority over all “regular” air traffic. “Regular” is defined as all aircraft traffic other than:
Provide priority handling, as required to expedite Flight Check aircraft.
- Aircraft directly involved in presidential movement.
- Forces or activities in actual combat.
- MEDEVAC, and active SAR missions.
- AIR EVAC and HOSP aircraft that have requested priority handling.
NOTE: It is recognized that unexpected wind conditions, weather, or heavy traffic flows may affect controller's ability to provide priority or special handling at the specific time requested.
IFR aircraft must have priority over SVFR aircraft.
Aircraft operating under the North American Route Program (NRP) are not subject to route limiting restrictions (e.g., published preferred IFR routes, letter of agreement requirements, standard operating procedures).
If able, provide priority handling to diverted flights. Priority handling may be requested via use of “DVRSN” in the remarks section of the flight plan or by the flight being placed on the Diversion Recovery Tool (DRT).
If able, provide priority handling to FALLEN HERO flights when "FALLEN HERO" is indicated in the remarks section of the flight plan or requested in air/ground communications.
- FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 17-4-5, Diversion Recovery.