Order 7610.4J: Special Military Operations
Effective Date: November 3, 1998
Includes: Change 1 (Effective July 3, 2000) and Change 2 (Effective July 12, 2001)
Chapter 7. ESCORT OF HIJACKED AIRCRAFT
Section 1. GENERAL
- 7-1-1. Purpose
- 7-1-2. Requests for Service
- 7-1-3. Handling Priority
- 7-1-4. Control Responsibilities for U.S. Airspace
- 7-1-5. Control Responsibilities for Canadian Airspace
- 7-1-6. Air/Ground Communications Security
- 7-1-7. Weather/Flight Safety Limitations
Section 2. ESCORT PROCEDURES
- 7-2-1. Facility Notification
- 7-2-2. Pilot Notification
- 7-2-3. Vectors
- 7-2-4. Radar Requirements
- 7-2-5. Airport Limitations
- 7-2-6. Responsibilities Prior to Join-Up
- 7-2-7. Positioning Instructions
- 7-2-8. Termination Heading
Section 3. REPLACEMENT/RECOVERY OF ESCORT AIRCRAFT
- 7-3-1. Replacement Responsibilities
- 7-3-2. Recovery Responsibilities
- 7-3-3. Return-to-Base
- 7-3-4. Refueling Operations
Section 4. FORWARDING INFORMATION
- 7-4-1. FAA Headquarters Requirements
- 7-4-2. Position Reports Within NORAD Radar Coverage
- 7-4-3. Position Reports Outside NORAD Radar Coverage
Section 5. MISSION TERMINATION
- 7-5-1. Termination Authority
- 7-5-2. Overflight Clearance
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:
a. Assure positive flight following.
b. Report unusual observances.
c. Aid search and rescue in the event of an emergency.
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
a. When hijacked aircraft is within FAA radar coverage, escort
aircraft shall be controlled by the appropriate FAA facility.
b. When a hijacked aircraft is not within FAA radar coverage but
within military radar coverage, escort aircraft may be controlled by the military for the
escort phase only.
c. When escort aircraft are under military control, separation
between the escort aircraft/hijacked aircraft and other IFR traffic is the responsibility
of the FAA. Separation shall be provided through the application of appropriate
altitude reservations as required.
d. When escort aircraft is under FAA control, standard air traffic
control separation shall be applied. In no case shall any clearance or instruction
to the aircraft compromise ATC standards.
e. When tanker aircraft are employed, the designated tankers and
escort aircraft shall be under FAA control, and appropriate aerial refueling procedures
7-1-5. CONTROL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR CANADIAN
Escort aircraft entering Canadian airspace from the U.S. shall be
transferred to NORAD control
in accordance with FAA/NORAD procedures prior to the aircraft entering Canadian
airspace. Escort aircraft entering U.S. airspace from Canada will be transferred
from NORAD control in the same manner when transfer of control is effected. When
the hijacked aircraft is not within the coverage of the NORAD surveillance system in
Canada, the escort mission will be discontinued.
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
Section 2. ESCORT
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
a. The control tower, on initial contact with the aircraft, shall
inform the pilot of the nature of the mission.
"Red dog five, this is a hijack escort mission."
b. If the aircraft is an air defense or tactical aircraft, the
controller shall also request the pilot to complete an armament safety check.
"Perform armament safety check."
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.
"Echo Golf One Two, when contact is established, maintain surveillance.
Approach no closer than five miles directly behind. Remain out of sight from cockpit
or cabin, and report all actions observed."
The pilot will advise you when the hijacked aircraft has been acquired on airborne radar
(if his aircraft is so equipped) and when visual contact has been achieved.
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
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
the initiation of recovery procedures. When the escort aircraft is being controlled
by an ARTCC/CERAP and replacement requirements are made known, the ARTCC/CERAP controlling
the aircraft shall coordinate the replacement with the applicable NORAD Region/SOCC/ROCC
as required. The hijack coordinator will be advised of replacement actions.
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
the escort is to be terminated. The facility will coordinate the recovery with the
NORAD Region/SOCC/ROCC. The ARTCC/CERAP will relay to the pilot recovery decisions
received from the NORAD Region/SOCC/ROCC; i.e., recovery base, base weather, and
frequently inform the pilot of his position in relation to the selected recovery field.
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
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
reports will be forwarded to the Cheyenne Mountain AFB/Air Defense Operations Center
(CMAFB/ADOC) by NORAD units. To facilitate NORAD tracking, every attempt shall be
made to ensure that the hijacked aircraft is squawking Mode 3/A, code 7500. The
NORAD control facility shall be advised if the hijacked aircraft is squawking a different
transponder code. The NORAD control facility will also be advised of the Mode 3/A
code setting assigned to hijack escort aircraft when other than NORAD interceptor aircraft
are being employed. This would
assist NORAD control facilities in monitoring the ongoing situation when non-NORAD
resources are used.
7-4-3. POSITION REPORTS OUTSIDE NORAD RADAR
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
a. The initial report from the ARTCC/CERAP to the NORAD/SOCC/ROCC
Senior Director shall include the following:
1. Call sign of the hijacked aircraft.
2. Time (UTC).
3. Position in latitude and longitude.
7. Position of escort aircraft with respect to hijacked aircraft,
"Universal Four Thirty-one, one seven three zero zulu, position, 34°26'N - 81°03'W,
heading one seven five, true airspeed four eight zero knots, flight level three seven
b. Subsequent reports shall include all of the items in
subparagraph a, above, except that items 4, 5, and 6 shall only be reported if different
from the initial information.
c. When control of the hijacked aircraft is transferred to another
ARTCC/CERAP, the transferring facility shall notify the ATCSCC.
Section 5. MISSION
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.
Source: Federal Aviation Administration.