This is a hypothetical scenario, but I'm interested to know if there are any regulations/guidance for what ATC should do in this situation.
The hypothetical nightmare scenario:
- The runway is blocked by a crashed airliner and can't be cleared quickly.
- The airliner is full of injured passengers who will take time to move.
- The next aeroplane in line to land has an engine failure and is gliding to the runway (so can't go around).
- You're in a hilly/built-up area so other options for landing are limited.
Clearly, you can't have one aircraft landing on top of a crashed aircraft, so what should ATC do?
Some of the options I can come up with (in roughly ascending order of how crazy they sound):
- Switch him to a different runway e.g. LHR has two parallel runways (but if he's close to the airport making the sudden move across to another runway might be dangerous without power?)
- Empty a taxiway (but you'd probably struggle to empty it fast enough at a busy airport?)
- Point him towards a grassy bit of the airport
- Allow him to land, but aim to land before or after the crashed aircraft (crash is probably at start or end of runway, so might just work)
- Wish him good luck and tell him to find somewhere else to land (you know that's possibly going to result in him crashing, but at least he won't crash into the already crashed aircraft).
So is there any advice for the controller and if so what is it?
Note the source of this question was listening to a recording of the ATC when BA38 crashed at LHR. The controller asks the next aircraft to go around - it made me wonder what would happen if they had said no!