Under what circumstances might it happen that a pilot's request to make an emergency landing is refused?

Is such a thing known to have occurred?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on History.SE rather than Aviation. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    May 31, 2019 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ I disagree, we plenty of questions on here that could overlap with History.SE and this is very much a question specific to the aviation field. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    May 31, 2019 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ sooo..... emergency landings arent part of aviation? $\endgroup$ May 31, 2019 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ This seems solidly on-topic to me, since it's about "flying technique, maneuvers, navigation, procedures, etc.", Air Traffic Control, and aviation regulations. Can you explain why it's off-topic in your opinion? $\endgroup$ May 31, 2019 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanIrons It's an unfortunate feature of Stack Exchange that downvoters and commenters don't get notified when content changes. $\endgroup$ Jun 1, 2019 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


I can imagine a couple of reasons why ATC could tell the pilots to please land somewhere else even if they have an emergency

  • All runways are closed, e.g. they are repaving the runway surface or when the snow trucks haven't yet cleared a thick layer of snow or the instrument landing system is inop and the visual conditions are not good enough, runway flooded after hurricane,...
  • Another emergency in progress, e.g. passengers freely running around on the airport after an evacuation, not safe to land
  • Political reasons with hijacked plane (e.g. Lufthansa Flight 181 Landshut was refused to land even when they declared an emergency with low fuel) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lufthansa_Flight_181
  • Presidential no-fly zone when other airports are available close by.
  • Virus infected people on board to avoid contamination of those on the ground (zombie apocalypse)
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Last zombie apocalypse, they just asked me if there was anything worth taking in the cargo hold! $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Jun 1, 2019 at 14:47

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