Usually we read, on reports, aircraft reporting urgency or emergency during the flight, while airborne. But, is it correct to use these "words" on ground?

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    $\begingroup$ Real-life example: youtu.be/jIt6CDLrPOo?t=1m4s $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ Mayday on the ground can also be used to report danger to life somewhere else. For example, you see an aircraft on fire in the circuit. There has been no radio call. Broadcasting a mayday stating what you saw and where is a proper procedure. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ Emergencies can even be declared by non-aircraft, for example if a control tower needs to be evacuated for fire or other emergency. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ atccommunication.com/mayday-versus-pan-pan Give a good summary. If it's immediate life-threatening, then "Mayday" would be proper on the ground too. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is correct to use MAYDAY or PAN PAN PAN on the ground.

In recurrent training we are often reminded that in the case of a rejected takeoff in a foreign country it is important to use MAYDAY or PAN PAN PAN on the ground to avoid any confusion due to language difficulties.

It's probably a good idea at any airport as a disabled aircraft on a busy runway could be a major hazard to other aircraft landing and taking off.

  • $\begingroup$ And of course you want emergency services by you as soon as they can in basically all the cases you would need to use those words. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 18:02

Absolutely they are correct to use on the ground if the situation warrants. They are used to express an emergency or urgency, and those can happen on the ground as well as the air. Those conditions are roughly the same: passenger illness requiring medical assistance, an engine fire, unlawful interference, etc.

When you make the call you would report your position as being on the ground, and where you are.

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    $\begingroup$ Another example of when Mayday would be appropriate while on the ground is when you've just crashed into said ground (e.g. runway excursion on takeoff or landing, crashing short of the runway, etc.) $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab - I suspect there wasn't much doubt that "If you crash, you can make a mayday call" :p that's pretty much the definition of an emergency $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ I'd venture that if you're not on the ground, you probably haven't crashed yet $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ @JonStory Unless it was a mid-air collision (in which case you'll likely be on the ground soon.) $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ Recent example: airplane lost directional control during landing rollout. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:12

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