In 1998, the Senate was considering adding language to the Coast Guard appropriations bill that would authorize State Police to issue orders that a GA aircraft must immediately land.

In that instance, the language was removed before the bill was passed due to serious feasibility issues with the logistics of such orders.

That information is 24 years old now, however - has any such power been codified in law anywhere else, since?

  • $\begingroup$ It's very difficult to prove a negative. Can you point to the potentially-relevant USC and CFR titles where you think such language may have been added? The bill referenced in your article would be a good starting point for research. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Jul 6, 2022 at 21:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The bill in question was an appropriations bill and is long since stale. I'm not sure where to look in the USC/CFR for such a thing. Certainly 93.1 has nothing that suggests anyone but the pilot has authority to make lawful decisions about course and site of landing, which suggests that an LEO trying to order a plane to land is committing an act of aircraft piracy. I'm assuming that I must be reading this wrong, but as you say, I can't prove the negative. $\endgroup$ Jul 6, 2022 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect there might be circumstances where any police can order an aircraft to land, just like there are circumstances where police can order a car to pull over, even though they can't do that in the general case. For example, if they believe the plane is committing a crime. $\endgroup$ Jul 7, 2022 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth It's not clear that this is something they can do, actually. Because of the unique nature of aircraft operations, PICs are imbued, by law, with final authority as to the flight of the aircraft. Drivers are not so imbued anywhere I'm aware of. $\endgroup$ Jul 7, 2022 at 15:04

2 Answers 2


Similar to my answer here (slightly different question so not a dupe). The short answer is no, local authorities have no jurisdiction over federal airspace. As noted here (r.e. drones but applies to aircraft as well)

Congress has provided the FAA with exclusive authority to regulate aviation safety, the efficiency of the navigable airspace, and air traffic control, among other things. State and local governments are not permitted to regulate any type of aircraft operations, such as flight paths or altitudes, or the navigable airspace.


Cities and municipalities are not permitted to have their own rules or regulations governing the operation of aircraft. However, as indicated, they may generally determine the location of aircraft landing sites through their land use powers.

Also as codified here the United States has full control over its airspace (not up to local authorities).


Over here in Canada, yes. In the Canadian air regulations under 602.144 says

(1) No person shall give an interception signal or an instruction to land except

(a) a peace officer, an officer of a police authority or an officer of the Canadian Armed Forces acting within the scope of their duties;

We do not have such things as provincial laws or state laws, all the rules we have are straight from the federal government.


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