Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids

Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids

The Plan for the Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids (SCATANA) is an emergency preparedness plan of the United States which prescribes the joint action to be taken by appropriate elements of the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, and the Federal Communications Commission in the interest of national security in order to effectively control air traffic and air navigation aids under emergency conditions.[1][2] Known versions of the plan are dated June 1971 and August 1975.[1] The plan implements parts of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, the Communications Act of 1934, and Executive Order 11490 of October 28, 1969 (amended by Executive Order 11921 on June 11, 1976).[1]

A similar plan by the same name existed in Canada for many years before its replacement with that country's Emergency Security Control of Air Traffic (ESCAT) Plan on October 9, 2002.[3]

Use on September 11, 2001

The U.S. plan has been implemented once (other than tests) since its inception. On September 11, 2001 the codeword was broadcasted, implementing an ATC Zero condition throughout U.S. airspace and ordering all U.S. air traffic to be grounded, after the September 11 attacks.[4] Even in that instance, the emergency plan was only partially implemented as the Defense Department left command of the air traffic system with the FAA and intentionally left all the radio navigational aids still running, in order to land the thousands of planes which were aloft in domestic airspace.[5]

The 9/11 Commission Report made reference to this unprecedented order and commended the air traffic controllers who carried it out.[6]

Several people have been credited with issuing the SCATANA order for a national ground stop. The 9/11 commission credits Ben Sliney with issuing the directive after he witnessed United Airlines Flight 175 crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center.[6]


  1. ^ a b c United States Air Force, United States Army, United States Navy (25 June 1976). "Security Control Of Air Traffic And Air Navigation Aids (SCATANA)". Retrieved May 18, 2009. 
  2. ^ "§5-6-1-g Special Security Instructions". Aeronautical Information Manual. Federal Aviation Administration. 
  3. ^ Canada Gazette (October 9, 2002). "Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Parts I, VI and VIII)". Retrieved May 18, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Leader Focus — SCATANA". November 18, 2001. 
  5. ^ Eberhart, General Ralph (June 17, 2004). "Transcript: 9/11 Commission". The Washington Post. "So our SCATANA said, "Leave the nav aids on." Our SCATANA said, "FAA, you still control the traffic that's flying." Our SCATANA said, "Law enforcement and Flight For Life can continue to fly." We don't want to ground them during this terrible tragedy. And then procedures for getting waivers to fly. So we had to take that procedure and modify it to this horrific act that occurred on 9/11." 
  6. ^ a b 9/11 Commission Report

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