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A recent question on FAA handling of evacuations prompted me to wonder if there are ever temporary (emergency based) flight corridors set up by any of the governing authorities?

For example, is there ever the airspace equivalent of one way highways set up for a temporary period?

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  • $\begingroup$ there is nothing stopping ATC from assigning a westbound altitude to a eastbound plane or vice versa (besides common practices) $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Nov 19 '14 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ if you look at the Arrival and Departure routes for a particular airport, you'll see that 1-way corridors already exist to separate departing and arriving aircraft $\endgroup$ – rbp Nov 19 '14 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ If the answer is no, there are no reason to have temporary flight corridors set up because the separation rules provide enough airspace as is, I would accept it. $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell Nov 19 '14 at 14:20
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There aren't temporary flight corridors, but during emergencies, the FAA will issue temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), many of which include the following text:

  1. ALL AIRCRAFT ENTERING OR EXITING THE TFR MUST BE ON A DISCRETE CODE ASSIGNED BY AN AIR TRAFFIC...AIRSPACE CONTROL (ATC) FACILITY
  2. AIRCRAFT MUST BE SQUAWKING THE DISCRETE CODE AT ALL TIMES WHILE IN THE TFR.
  3. ALL AIRCRAFT ENTERING OR EXITING THE TFR MUST REMAIN IN TWO-WAY RADIO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ATC.

The controllers will then direct traffic in, out, and within the area as needed.

Also, remember that aircraft separation is by altitude as well as position, and nothing prevents a controller from using all the altitudes in her airspace to vector aircraft in one direction. When assigning an altitude that contradicts the hemispherical rules, ATC will use the words "wrong way" to make sure you understand you are being given an altitude inappropriate for your direction of travel.

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Flight corridors (airways) are just standard routes to simplify communication from controllers to pilots when describing where they should fly and between controllers when handing over flights. But the controllers can assign arbitrary vectors (headings and altitudes) to aircraft whenever they see fit.

So there is no need to formally set up a temporary corridor. If the traffic for whatever reason does not fit the usual corridor, the controller will simply assign any free vector and explain the situation to the next controller. They do that all the time anyway.

However in non-radar environment (e.g. oceanic or in case of radar failure) airways become important tool for the air traffic control, because it would not be feasible to keep track of positions of all the aircraft on ad-hoc routes. With airways the controller knows which airways intersect so planes on them need to be separated vertically and only needs to track the aircraft progress in one dimension (along the airway) instead of two (on map).

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  • $\begingroup$ if by "Flight corridors" you mean federal airways, they were set up (in pre-GPS days) not just to simplify communications but also because they can be flown from NAVAID to NAVAID by the pilot without ATC intervention. $\endgroup$ – rbp Nov 22 '14 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp: You can fly ad-hoc navaid to navaid. But it's even more work to define such route, so airways primarily simplified communication pre-GPS too. And they made ATC work possible without radar as it would not be feasible to keep track of every aircraft position on ad-hoc routes. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Nov 24 '14 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ note i said "not just to..., but also..." $\endgroup$ – rbp Nov 24 '14 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp: And I am saying it's not "also" but rather a case of. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Nov 24 '14 at 14:10
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You could argue that any time an aircraft is given a route which is not on a permanent air corridor, a temporary one is set up, and that if a controller gives several planes a similar route, that corridor is in use

More sensibly, no - there's no need to, there's plenty of airspace in areas with no corridors, and even if there was an unusual amount of traffic the controller would just implement a similar concept (routing aircraft along a similar route in the same direction) on an ad-hoc basis as and when required - there's no need to declare it as a corridor in some official manner and propagate that information to airlines and pilots.

Corridors are only necessary for busy routes, and even then it's not mandatory for them to be used by ATC - it's just sensible to use them most of the time to avoid confusion

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