Question for high altitude controllers

Captain4242

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Heard this on the radio a few weeks ago:
A pilot at upper altitudes declares a medical emergency, and requests to land a nearest suitable field. ATC explains that such-and-such airport is closest, and to expect vectors. After the first vector, ATC says to expect lower altitude once clearing traffic. Pilot says "traffic in sight", and asks to continue decending for the field, even going through the other guy's altitude.
Question: Can ATC allow this descent? The pilot has declared an emergency...as far as ATC goes, are IFR separations still required for the aircraft in distress while having traffic in sight above 180?
I would think that part 91.3 has some limitations....
Thank you in advance.
 

GIVDrvr

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ATC cant waive the separation requirements but the pilot can exercise emergency authority. Of course that is not unfettered and subject to review. If it is a medical emergency normally crews will comply with ATC clearances as issued and are provided priority handling, commonly the 250 below 100 reg is exceeded conditions permitting.
 

kilroy

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Emergency From Altitute

ATC cant waive the separation requirements but the pilot can exercise emergency authority. Of course that is not unfettered and subject to review. If it is a medical emergency normally crews will comply with ATC clearances as issued and are provided priority handling, commonly the 250 below 100 reg is exceeded conditions permitting.
In my experience flying airambulance once you declare an emergency they damn near part the earth for you and do what ever it takes to get you down.

Years ago flying an air ambulance trip that originated in Spain we were about 35 miles north of Boston at FL390 when the patient went into cardiac arrest. We declared a medical emrgency. Without a beat the controller cleared us to Fl180 and direct to BOS. With in a minute he gave us a switch to approach and was cleared for the approach. From the time I declared to the time we opened the door was about 12-14 minutes from FL390. Also by the time we hit the ground we had the AFR, local ambulance and customs waiting but no immigration.
 

WMUSIGPI

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In my experience flying airambulance once you declare an emergency they damn near part the earth for you and do what ever it takes to get you down.

Years ago flying an air ambulance trip that originated in Spain we were about 35 miles north of Boston at FL390 when the patient went into cardiac arrest. We declared a medical emrgency. Without a beat the controller cleared us to Fl180 and direct to BOS. With in a minute he gave us a switch to approach and was cleared for the approach. From the time I declared to the time we opened the door was about 12-14 minutes from FL390. Also by the time we hit the ground we had the AFR, local ambulance and customs waiting but no immigration.
39000 ft in 35 miles must have been a heck of a ride.... that's better than 7000ft/min avg all the way to the ground for a typical jet....
 

kilroy

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39000 ft in 35 miles must have been a heck of a ride.... that's better than 7000ft/min avg all the way to the ground for a typical jet....
It is a pretty fun ride beside the the emergency thing going on. You know it is a fast decent when you look back at the pax in the back and you are looking up at them. Pretty much it is power idle speed brakes out and keeping the IAS at 360 all the way to about a 10 mile final.
 

BillJBrake

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controller can't waive a reg, but as it states in the reg's (as GIVDrvr said) a pilot can declare an emergency and then exercise emergency authority and do whatever necessary for the safety of flight.

On that note though, in an ultra-high situation, if a pilot declares an emergency or delcares some sort of urgent situation it isn't THAT too far out of line for the controller to have lower avialable soon after. From either vectors on converging traffic or report passing.

But to your initial question, as GIVDrvr answered, no, ATC can't waive a reg like that.
 

scarface

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That's an impressive bit of flying Kilroy. I say that most sincerely.
 

GIVDrvr

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No doubt, you declare a Medical Emergency and ATC is going to move conflicting traffic and clear a path to your desired diversion. Period. This is a routine occurence in a big ATC facility, as in I can remember 3 in a shift once. Controllers are used to this and know the drill. Since the question addressed what types of separation requirements ATC can break I wanted to emphasize the answer is ZERO. You say "N__ is in an emergency descent" and the controller is going to scramble to move a/c and make point outs to adjacent sectors then find out nature of the emergency and what your intentions are. ATC may also something like
"separation cannot be assured but safety alerts will be provided".
I also wanted to remind that your PIC emergency authority is subject to review and your decision making must reflect good judgment and be appropriate to the circumstances and that there have been certificate actions based upon that premise. You can't endanger 300 pax on the A380 below you because the boss has gas pains, but if the airframe is in jeopardy you do what you gotta do. Also ATC can require a written report from the PIC any time any operational priority has been provided but that is a rare event.
 
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