What does ATC do when there is an emergency? This could be a tower or an ARTCC being evacuated or otherwise unusable.
On this related question, it turned out that Newark closed because of smoke in the tower.
Another user posted an interesting anecdote about another tower being evacuated, so I thought it warranted a question.
The facility under duress will declare "ATC Zero" and all traffic will be handed off to other controllers while that facility is offline.
In the case of a control tower, this means the airport either acts as a non-towered field or as a closed field (depending on the nature of the emergency). If it is a TRACON, then the ARTCC will assume control of the TRACONs airpsace. If it is an ARTCC, that might present bigger problems as continuity of radio communications may be impacted and I'm not sure exactly how this would be handled but assume it would be re-routes around the ARTCC.
I've been inbound to IAH when their tower decided to close (I forget why), and the response was to put everyone inbound to IAH into holds and handle diverts when fuel became an issue.
I happened to arrive in the Bridgeport, CT tower for a tower tour precisely when the boss (offsite) called an evac drill. KBDR is a non-radar tower. The two people in the tower picked up battery powered radios and evacuated to the parking lot, and continued controlling traffic from there. The controller on duty had/has a mental picture of the traffic and (at that low volume airport) he could operate just as well from the parking lot as from the tower.
What does ATC do when there is an emergency? This could be a tower or an ARTCC being evacuated or otherwise unusable. How do they decide whether to close the airport/airspace? What do they do with the traffic, whether they do or don't close? On this related question, it turned out that Newark closed because of smoke in the tower. Another user posted an interesting anecdote about another tower being evacuated, so I thought it warranted a question.
So the answer in my mind is "of course pilots can fly circling approaches at non-towered airports" (seriously, I could swear that I've done it before, but then again I can't think of any specific examples....). That is, until I ran across this little tidbit in the Air Traffic Control Order while researching another question: 4-8-6. CIRCLING APPROACH a. Circling approach instructions may only be given for aircraft landing at airports with operational control towers. So then the question becomes, why do they have circling minimums at non-towered airports?? No tower here. ATC
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The use of the phrase "going around" is specified by ICAO Doc 4444 as the phrase to use when we're aborting the landing and heading for another lap in the traffic pattern if we're on a visual..., traffic pattern if visual, missed approach if on instruments), but doesn't say anything about the appropriate pilot phraseology. I couldn't find any reference in the AIM (chapter 4 section 2) either. (I also often hear just "missed approach", which I suppose would be appropriate when checking back in with approach, but not with the tower, although feel free to clarify that for me as well)
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