AIM 4-1-16

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4-1-16. Safety Alert

A safety alert will be issued to pilots of aircraft being controlled by ATC if the controller is aware the aircraft is at an altitude which, in the controller's judgment, places the aircraft in unsafe proximity to terrain, obstructions or other aircraft. The provision of this service is contingent upon the capability of the controller to have an awareness of a situation involving unsafe proximity to terrain, obstructions and uncontrolled aircraft. The issuance of a safety alert cannot be mandated, but it can be expected on a reasonable, though intermittent basis. Once the alert is issued, it is solely the pilot's prerogative to determine what course of action, if any, to take. This procedure is intended for use in time critical situations where aircraft safety is in question. Noncritical situations should be handled via the normal traffic alert procedures.

a. Terrain or Obstruction Alert

1. Controllers will immediately issue an alert to the pilot of an aircraft under their control when they recognize that the aircraft is at an altitude which, in their judgment, may be in an unsafe proximity to terrain/obstructions. The primary method of detecting unsafe proximity is through Mode C automatic altitude reports.

EXAMPLE-
Low altitude alert, check your altitude immediately. The, as appropriate, MEA/MVA/MOCA in your area is (altitude) or, if past the final approach fix (nonprecision approach) or the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker (precision approach), the, as appropriate, MDA/DH (if known) is (altitude).

2. Terminal Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS) IIIA, Common ARTS (to include ARTS IIIE and ARTS IIE) (CARTS), Micro En Route Automated Radar Tracking System (MEARTS), and Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) facilities have an automated function which, if operating, alerts controllers when a tracked Mode C equipped aircraft under their control is below or is predicted to be below a predetermined minimum safe altitude. This function, called Minimum Safe Altitude Warning (MSAW), is designed solely as a controller aid in detecting potentially unsafe aircraft proximity to terrain/obstructions. The ARTS IIIA, CARTS, MEARTS, and STARS facility will, when MSAW is operating, provide MSAW monitoring for all aircraft with an operating Mode C altitude encoding transponder that are tracked by the system and are:

(a) Operating on an IFR flight plan; or

(b) Operating VFR and have requested MSAW monitoring.

3. Terminal AN/TPX-42A (number beacon decoder system) facilities have an automated function called Low Altitude Alert System (LAAS). Although not as sophisticated as MSAW, LAAS alerts the controller when a Mode C transponder equipped aircraft operating on an IFR flight plan is below a predetermined minimum safe altitude.

NOTE-
Pilots operating VFR may request MSAW or LAAS monitoring if their aircraft are equipped with Mode C transponders.

EXAMPLE-
Apache Three Three Papa request MSAW/LAAS.

b. Aircraft Conflict Alert.

1. Controllers will immediately issue an alert to the pilot of an aircraft under their control if they are aware of another aircraft which is not under their control, at an altitude which, in the controller's judgment, places both aircraft in unsafe proximity to each other. With the alert, when feasible, the controller will offer the pilot the position of the traffic if time permits and an alternate course(s) of action. Any alternate course(s) of action the controller may recommend to the pilot will be predicated only on other traffic being worked by the controller.

EXAMPLE-
American Three, traffic alert, (position of traffic, if time permits), advise you turn right/left heading (degrees) and/or climb/descend to (altitude) immediately.

Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) — Chapter 4 — Air Traffic Control
4-1-1 ARTCCs • 4-1-2 Towers • 4-1-3 FSS's • 4-1-4 Recording • 4-1-5 Release of IFR Aircraft • 4-1-6 Visits to Air Traffic Facilities • 4-1-7 Operation Take-off and Operation Raincheck • 4-1-8 Approach Control Service for VFR Aircraft • 4-1-9 Airports Without Operating Control Towers • 4-1-10. IFR Approaches/Ground Vehicle Ops • 4-1-11 UNICOM/MULTICOM Freqs • 4-1-12 UNICOM for ATC • 4-1-13 ATIS • 4-1-14 AFIS • 4-1-15 RADAR Traffic Service • 4-1-16 Safety Alert • 4-1-17 Radar Assistance to VFR Aircraft • 4-1-18. VFR Terminal Radar Services • 4-1-19 TEC • 4-1-20 Transponders • 4-1-21 Hazardous Area Reporting • 4-1-22 Airport Reservation Ops • 4-1-23 Requests for Waivers • 4-1-24 Weather Processor
4-2-1 General • 4-2-2 Radio Technique • 4-2-3 Contact Procedures • 4-2-4 Call Signs • 4-2-5 Leased Aircraft • 4-2-6. Ground Call Signs • 4-2-7 Phonetic Alphabet • 4-2-8 Figures • 4-2-9 Altitudes • 4-2-10 Directions • 4-2-11 Speeds • 4-2-12 Time • 4-2-13 Radio Inop Comm. • 4-2-14 VFR Comm.
4-3-1 General • 4-3-2 Towered Airports • 4-3-3 Traffic Patterns • 4-3-4 Visual Indicators at Untowered Airports • 4-3-5 Unexpected Maneuvers • 4-3-6. Use of Runways • 4-3-7 LLWS/Microbursts • 4-3-8 Braking Reports • 4-3-9 Runway Friction • 4-3-10 Intersection Takeoffs • 4-3-11 LAHSO • 4-3-12 Low Approach • 4-3-13 Light Signals • 4-3-14 Comms. • 4-3-15 Departure Delays • 4-3-16 VFR Flights • 4-3-17 VFR Helicopter Ops • 4-3-18 Taxiing • 4-3-19 Low Vis. Taxi • 4-3-20 Exiting the Runway • 4-3-21 Practice Approaches • 4-3-22 Option Approach • 4-3-23 Aircraft Lights • 4-3-24 Flight Inspection/`Flight Check' Aircraft in Terminal Areas • 4-3-25 Hand Signals • 4-3-26 Uncontrolled Airports With ASOS/AWOS
4-4-1 Clearance • 4-4-2 Clearance Prefix • 4-4-3 Clearance Items • 4-4-4 Amended Clearances • 4-4-5 CDR • 4-4-6 Special VFR • 4-4-7 Pilot Responsibility • 4-4-8 VFR-on-top • 4-4-9 VFR/IFR • 4-4-10 Adherence to Clearance • 4-4-11 IFR Separation • 4-4-12 Speed Adjustments • 4-4-13 Runway Separation • 4-4-14 Visual Separation • 4-4-15 Visual Clearing Procedures • 4-4-16 TCAS I & II • 4-4-17 TIS
4-5-1 Radar • 4-5-2 ATCRBS • AIM 4-5-34-5-3 Surveillance Radar • 4-5-4 PAR • 4-5-5 ASDE-X • 4-5-6 TIS • 4-5-7 ADS-B • 4-5-8 TIS-B • 4-5-9 FIS-B • 4-5-10 ADS-R
4-6-1 RVSM Mandate • 4-6-2 • Flight Levels • 4-6-3 Operator Approval • 4-6-4 Flight Planning into RVSM • 4-6-5 Pilot RVSM • 4-6-6 MWA • 4-6-7 Wake Turbulence • 4-6-8 Pilot/Controller Phraseology • 4-6-9 Contingency Actions • 4-6-10 Accommodation of Non-RVSM • 4-6-11 Climb/Descent to/from Flight Levels Above RVSM