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What to do when fuel has exhausted and we are denied landing by ATC? If we were denied landing it means we are close to the runway, and thus if we are intending for a forced landing, the runway could have been the safest option. With time being a constraint, what call should be made to ATC?

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    $\begingroup$ If the fuel is exhausted, you're going to land somewhere soon enough, with or without ATC's permission. $\endgroup$ – Zach Lipton Aug 13 '18 at 5:42
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    $\begingroup$ Closely related $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 13 '18 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ While a slightly different question, my answer to May an emergency aircraft land on a closed runway? applies to this exact situation as well. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Aug 13 '18 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ Slightly off-topic, but could well be the reason for this question. It has always been a pet peeve of mine that in some foreign languages the ATC “approves” or “autorizes”or “permits” landing, as opposed to “clears” one to land. Therefore people assume ATC might therefore “deny” someone to land. The tower will issue a landing clearance (or not), they cannot deny anything. $\endgroup$ – Radu094 Aug 13 '18 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ Declare an emergency. $\endgroup$ – Sean Apr 3 at 3:31
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You should have declared an emergency long before your fuel was exhausted. If you haven't yet, do it now.

Land Anyway

You are authorized to do whatever it takes to get the aircraft down, worry about regulations when you are alive enough to do it. Until then, ATC will clear out anything around you, just say "declaring an emergency" and then fly the plane regardless of what ATC "authorizes" you to do or not.

The literal call to ATC will be:

KXYZ, Unable, emergency, landing now.

But only if you have time to make the call.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree. This is a theory examination question for RT procedures.. Students are intending to Force land in an open field as their answer Post declaring and Emergency. My suggestion was to head for the Runway. $\endgroup$ – The Better Aviator Aug 13 '18 at 4:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Aviation24by7 That's a horrid question, because not only should it never ever get to that point, ATC are never going to respond in that way. I agree with your "answer", but if you're setting the question then I think it should be changed $\endgroup$ – Dan Aug 13 '18 at 8:48
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    $\begingroup$ If ATC still doesn't authorize you to land after you declare the emergency, there is probably a Really Good Reason (tm) for it, and you may want to ask why.... $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Aug 13 '18 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ You are missing the point. If they still tell you no, there are probably even greater hazards and you would probably be better off doing something else (like land on a taxiway or off airport....). $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Aug 14 '18 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger I get what you're saying, I'm not suggesting that you land on top of a preschool tour group wandering around on the runway when a taxiway or the grass looks clear, I'm saying that if the pilot judges the runway to be the safest option, that is what the pilot should do regardless of what ATC is yelling in your ear. Explaining "why" is for when you have time for conversation, not at 500 feet crossing the fence. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 14 '18 at 22:14
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In addition to Ron Beyer’s answer, no controller will deny a request from a pilot who declares an emergency. If they ever did, they would be fired so fast it would make your head spin. In the event of a physical hindrance ie only one runway on site which is closed, listed on NOTAMS and impeded, ie equipment, workers, etc, they would ADVISE the pilot of this but the decision to proceed is the domain of the pilot alone.

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    $\begingroup$ The pilot would also be well within rights to put down on a taxiway if the runway is closed. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 13 '18 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ Absolutely. The objective for every pilot is to complete the mission and that is to land the aircraft safely. Being able to do that during emergency and that to at the destination, is a magical thing to happen. $\endgroup$ – The Better Aviator Aug 13 '18 at 4:14

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