What is the procedure for aircraft, if the ATC they were relying on to land, is, in some way, completely disabled? (for example there is a fire that destroys the whole building and all equipment).

If this happens at a busy airport, do the aircraft simply communicate with each other to organise who will land first etc.?

For the purpose of the question, assume there is no other tower within range that could reasonably pick up the job and that there are aircraft that must land there (they might have already been in holding for 2 hours plus and have no fuel left).

This is not a duplicate as I am specifically asking about cases where they have not been diverted to another airport, are in holding, run out of fuel and then ATC tower gets disabled.


If we assume that the tower is somehow out of commission and the FAA can not get a temporary facility up there are a few options.

They could close the runways with appropriate markings and a potential update to the ATIS (if its still operational). They could coordinate with local ATC facilities to help with the diversions as well.

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Perhaps the simpler solution is that the airport becomes uncontrolled. This is what happens at my local field KPNE late at night. Not all towers are always operational and some shut down at night. In the case of KPNE the tower is only operational 0600-2300L, outside of that the airport becomes class E airspace and is considered uncontrolled and airplanes operate as such. In a situation where the runway is not closed and there is no tower aircraft are perfectly capable of coordinating themselves.

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