View Full Version : The reason behind the shutdown of US Airspace

Lu Zuckerman
15th Sep 2001, 04:41
I received this notice from a US Coast Guard bulletin board that I subscribe to. You may find it interesting. Some of it may not print out properly.

SCATANA Measures: As you are aware, the NORAD COMMAND CENTER implemented SCATANA measures. What is SCATANA? This acronym stands for Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids. This plan was originally developed in the 1960's and authorizes NORAD, the FAA, and the FCC to impose flight restrictions in order to clear the skies of all non-essential air traffic and shut down all navigation aids. The implementation of this system also allows the air defense network to identify aircraft tracks and have only mission essential aircraft airborne. On 9 Nov 1979 SCATANA was erroneously triggered when a technician at NORAD inserted a computer tape to simulate a nuclear attack into the on-line warning system. FAA controllers at some locations were ordered to land aircraft immediately. This went on for six minutes until the error was recognized and SCATANA was lifted. On 11 Sep 2001 the SCATANA implementation was no error. While G-OCA (US Coast Guard Aviation directorate)understood everyone’s frustration, realize this, the forest fires in the West grew and burned yet the fire-fighting aircraft were grounded. Organ transplants could not be performed since aircraft were not allowed to fly organs to the patients who desperately needed them. This event affected more than just Coast Guard aviation. Our staff worked tirelessly with Cheyenne Mountain Operation Center to get the best information out to the fleet on how to continue Coast Guard Operations. While we hope this never happens again, this was the first full-scale implementation of SCATANA, and not unexpectedly, there are some bugs in the plan that NORAD needs to resolve.

15th Sep 2001, 06:50
Thanks for that.
Watching the whole thing unfold from half way around the world (Perth Western Australia) from the first tentative reports to the second aircraft into the WTC and beyond, I was amazed (and relieved) at just how quickly you guys got your act together locking the place down in the initial confusion, bugs or not.

I suspect that they were not the only targets.

Whether the scumbags intended for the towers to collapse may or may not ever be known.
But it seems the fact that they did, raised the stakes beyond any doubt.

It is comforting to know that there are such plans in place and lets those who would be labelled "paranoid war mongers" for their foresight by the more flaky of the worlds population, be seen for the very wise people that they are.

I might not agree with everything your country does, any more than your country does with ours, but that is the nature of true and fast friends who share common values.

Whilst it was your countrymen who bore the brunt, the number of other nationalities with people at ground zero is truly astonishing.
From my little home town population of around 1 million, I have at least 3 Oz friends and my children about a half dozen between them who were either there or close by, safe by the grace of God. I wait, hopefully, for news of of some US friends but do not expect any good news soon.

I wonder if the scumbags realised or understood that they were not going to just draw the US out, but the whole world by the international nature of NY and in particular the WTC.
I doubt there is any corner of the earth now that did not have someone from their community directly affected.

Six degrees of separation?
Nah for this one, lets say only One!

Trite maybe but for them chillingly true, "They might be able to run but there will now be nowhere to hide"

15th Sep 2001, 17:35

I suscribe to a flight tracking program .At 11am New York time there were 230 tracks showing (the area covered is USA Canada parts of the Pacific, Atlantic routes west of 50 degrees and the Caribbean). Just 17 were within USA boundaries. At that time of day there are usually 4500 to 5000 tracks showwing........the SCATANA plan certainly worked.

Sorry for your troubles in the USA.....you are not alone in your grief.


15th Sep 2001, 20:46
Lu, when I got my pilots license many years ago, one of the things we had to obtain a passing grade on was the definition and application of the SCATANA rules. Nice to see it th system works. I hope to Christ I never see the reasons they were applied to NA airspace again. :(

15th Sep 2001, 21:12
Thanks for the info.
I dont think anyone would have any doubts that such a system is needed and that in the present situation it most certainly was required.
I also dont think that anyone would disagree that it should stay in place until safety is assured.
What I have trouble with is as it says in your info
"This plan was originally developed in the 1960's and authorizes NORAD, the FAA, and the FCC to impose flight restrictions in order to clear the skies of all non-essential air traffic and shut down all navigation aids."
It would appear that no single body is in control.
You have no doubt read the thread on the Leajet heart transplant. The aircraft was escorted to the US border by Canadian fighters so not some light hearted mission.
FAA quoted "miscommunication" - Hello - this is hardly the time for miscommunication.

Next read the thread on the GA resumption by AOPA. They were told (by the FAA) they could resume flights subject to filing plans etc etc.
Many operators did this complying with all the rules and being authorised by ATC, only to have fighters intercept and force them to land.
AOPA has received assurance that the FAA will not file violations against those pilots.
For What ??? Following FAA instructions too closely.

Part of the after event ivestigation needs to take a long look at the FAA ability and effectiveness

20th Sep 2001, 03:48
Thanks for info -

Amazing, Lu, until I read your post, I didn't know the ATC system was so well coordinated. At least we know it works.

The program also showed some critical links. In Alaska, the 'bush' villages were badly crippled in the aftermath, having practically no roads or water transportation. No doubt, Alaska will now have to set up a means of dealing with such in the future.

I Imagine Canada had similar problems.

For all the pre-existing protests, I wonder if the FAA's Ms. Garvey will now believe there is an airport security problem. She was quite well informed from private citizens through Congressional reports.

Allowing the obvious to happen cannot be separated from making it happen.

[ 19 September 2001: Message edited by: SKYDRIFTER ]

20th Sep 2001, 06:20
Lu, apparently this went out shortly after the airspace became prohibited...


So was it or wasn't it?