When needing to deviate due to weather, does asking for deviation "due to weather" give ATC any leeway in terms of aircraft separation?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ No, it does not change the rules for aircraft separation. That's the whole point of them asking ATC for a deviation in the first place. See this question for the details about separation: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/2806/… $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 3:15

1 Answer 1


No, it does not. ATC can specify a restriction to the deviation, especially in a non-radar environment where they can't keep an eye on you.

The only thing that frees ATC of separation responsibilities between two IFR (or IFR/VFR depending on airspace) aircraft is if one them reports the other in sight, and is issued an "maintain visual separation". After that the responsibility of not hitting the other aircraft, or its wake, rests solely with the pilot in command.

  • $\begingroup$ Aircraft deviate for weather without radar all of the time (think oceanic flights). What are we supposed to do, just fly through that level five thunderstorm if radar goes down? ;-) That being said, I agree with the rest of your answer. Separation is still required at all times (and that includes visual separation). $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger that is true. I was thinking about that as well. How is that handled? Using corridors of certain size? How about more congested airspace when the radar is down? $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Timing, pilot position reports, etc. We need controllers here to answer these types of questions! :-) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger I'm guessing timing and position reports only really work if you have a route, so... re-routing then? $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I've been asked to report my bearing and distance to a VOR when I'm in a non-radar environment (which is what I meant by position reports) but typically they just say something like "10 degree right deviation approved, cleared direct <next fix> when able.", sometimes with a restriction to not deviate more than a certain number of miles of course. They would then need to keep all of that airspace clear. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 12:52

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