View Full Version : Land or Go Around?

sudden Winds
5th Jul 2007, 17:39
2 mile final, rwy in sight, a big jet. You´re on Tower frequency, call for clearance, nothing, no response whatsoever, nothing on the radio...land or go around?

5th Jul 2007, 17:44
Definite go around

reduce to minimum
5th Jul 2007, 17:49
Simple: Go around, big jet or not......
Afterwards you can always tell the guy on the prev. frequency to wake up his mate in the tower....

5th Jul 2007, 17:51
Call ground on box2 as he's probably sitting next to the tower guy, to ask what is happening, if no luck then go around, if it's sorted then thats a few hundred quids worth of fuel saved.

5th Jul 2007, 17:51
Keep calling for clearance for as long as you can... but keep a lookout... Just don't touch that runway without clearance... that'll wake the tower up... J/K
A few years ago a 732 had to do a low fly by at an airport somewhere here to get the airport to realize that there was a flight coming in...

sudden Winds
5th Jul 2007, 19:35
right, thanks guys, but can´t this be considered a lost comm scenario, where the most appropriate thing to do would be to land and terminate the flight?
What if you go around and can´t establish comm afterwards, isn´t that much bigger of a problem?
Trying other frequencies and looking for light signals is completely valid, and should be done, but if you´re on a 2 mile final, don´t u think squawking 7600 and landing is appropriate as well?

ray cosmic
5th Jul 2007, 19:43
Local field; nothing going on except your flight; land it.

Solve the crap later. By definition you're perhaps wrong, but that Cessna 152 you could land as well without clearance on some strips, no?
Its only to cover your ass in case something might go wrong.

If you're sure the runway is yours, why don't take it?
You'd even have the backup of the local green party..

LHR? would't try it..

CDG? you would have gotten the clearance already while being number 3 on 9 miles final.. what's the difference in this case?

5th Jul 2007, 19:52
In that phase of flight there is no time to figure out if comms are lost or not. Fly the published missed approach procedure, if necessary enter a hold and try to solve the problem. Haste makes waste.

5th Jul 2007, 20:24
Actually... just read the damn books...
Under comms fail, it says under VMC (2 mile final & runway in sight? Hmmm)... land at nearest suitable airport... which is the runway you're heading to...

If in IMC, your ETA would be revised to within 30 mins anyways of your actual landing time if you lost comms on a 2 mile final...

Don't forget to "lookout for visual signals"

But at the same time, of equal importance, it states one should try and contact the other ATC facilities or other aircraft... Failing that, transmit blind...

The ATC will upon realising there's a comms fail try to raise you on the radio, if no response from you, they'll try and get other aircraft (if any), or assume you will take the standard procedures... which, in VMC, you'll land since you're on approach and try to get the runway to be yours and clear the traffic away from you.

If you're within the airport traffic, they will assume you'll land...

You can do either... but if in IMC, I'd go around first... if you're in radar coverage area, it's best to give them notice that you think you're on lost comms...

Wouldn't there be a couple of considerations determining which action the pilot would take? Did U contact Tower beforehand? Are you aware of any traffic? Was the previous ATC you contacted that handed you off to the tower a dedicated terminal area ATCS for the airport, or an area control? Blablablabla...

Bugger it's 2am and I need some sleep instead of babbling rubbish here...

5th Jul 2007, 23:33
How much fuel have you got? That usually decides many things. Weather below minimums at 1000 feet? How much fuel have you got? That'll be the biggest decider. The books are good, great in fact, but thinking on your feet and making the decisions is why they pay you the big bucks. At two miles and having listened to the RT for the last few minutes will build up your SA. In my 30 years flying, the only reason I didn't get a landing clearance on short final was due to a comms failure on tower's behalf. I landed on all occasions and was right every time. However, I still treat every occasion as a individual occurance and make my decision on the facts of the day.

6th Jul 2007, 02:04
Definitely switch to the ground control frequency...talk to the ground controller (who is probably right next to the local controller)...tell him what's going on, THEN LAND ON THE PARALLEL TAXIWAY. THAT'LL TEACH 'EM!!!



6th Jul 2007, 02:47
If the runway is clear, I'd land.

Capn Bloggs
6th Jul 2007, 03:22
can´t this be considered a lost comm scenario, where the most appropriate thing to do would be to land and terminate the flight?

Not at such short notice, IMO. There's obviously been a stuff up somewhere, and if you land you take the chance of running into any manner of objects (vehicles, other aircraft crossing).

The lost comm procedure is designed to make sure you give as much notice as possible before you make your approach, so ATC can get everybody out of the way. Making a snap decision to land after not getting a response from the tower 60 seconds to touchdown doesn't achieve that.

By all means try SMC, look for visual signals, but definitely then Go Round if not positive clearance to land.

Think of it another way: IF you ran into somebody on the runway, what would you say to the judge?

sudden Winds
6th Jul 2007, 04:11
good point captain, but if you´ve been cleared for an approach to a rwy you´re not supposed to run into any vehicles or anything, and if fuel and wx is a concern a go around may also take you to the judge´s office. Of course there´s not an absolute answer here, every scenario should be analyzed if possible, but my initial post calls for a 2 mile final no response call, which could be due to a partial and temporary problem, a stuck mike or something easily solved, or a major comm loss. I think that if you still hear the tower freq. that´s once thing, but if everything´s complete silence and you go around you´re now back in the air after some time flying, going to an alternate which might be busy as well, possibly in a non radar environment, etc etc...I am not leaning toward landing, but just expressing that a go around might complicate things as well.
Thank you for all of your comments. It´s good to know how you guys think !!
A great pleasure,

A lost comm scenario can happen any time...and consideration is given to a failure with an airport in sight...and the idea behind that is "get out of the system, see and avoid"

Brian Abraham
6th Jul 2007, 04:51
My take is at two miles you have little time, and its not the place to be engaged in trouble shooting (one minute to touchdown max - aviate, navigate, communicate etc), particularly if IMC. Go round and establish cause ie is it really lost coms, finger trouble, previous controller gave wrong freq and you failed for whatever reason to pick it up - an endless list of reasons could be the cause. Have been caught out by the fact that the volume had been turned down.

6th Jul 2007, 07:33
Well, lets see...this very same scenario happened to me about two years ago at Cairo, poor visibility due to rising sand, 48 minutes holding (had stacks of fuel, so no problem...lots of other airplanes diverted however), final vectors, cleared for approach, call the tower.
Called the tower again.
Now two miles final in our big three engine jet, called Cairo Ground.
Ground says....'LN202, cleared to land.'
Between the time that the approach controller had released us to call the tower, and we called, a backhoe had sliced through a big electrical cable, thereby failing all the tower frequencies, the ILS, the NDB, the VOR and much of the airport lighting...leaving only ground control on a standby frequency, active.
The ground controller told me it was battery powered.
Approaching the parking bay, the ground controller wanted to know how we found the airport, as all the nav aids were unserviceable.
'Honeywell HT9100 GPS' I told him.
Superb units these, supremely accurate.
IFR stand-alone approved, enroute, terminal, approach.

Very handy to have.

6th Jul 2007, 10:18
Doc 44.44 must be able to answer this.
Perhaps this question should be moved to the controllers section.

But making the landing without clearance, either verbal or visual, calls for some serious explaining in court...

6th Jul 2007, 14:42
Simply, go around!

Don't make the story long,,,

6th Jul 2007, 14:56
Had this very scenario just a couple of months ago at DH +200'

Have NHP call tower on box 2.

Cleared then land ( in our case )
No contact then mins followed by standard miss

No clearance then no land, no brainer in UK

6th Jul 2007, 21:45
good point captain, but if you´ve been cleared for an approach to a rwy you´re not supposed to run into any vehicles or anything,

Not so, Sudden Winds. if you are cleared for the approach, that does not mean that the runway is available.

Also we are assuming here that the aircraft is on final for Frankfurt, say, and not Brussels?

7th Jul 2007, 00:37
........big jet............

So that will be between 1200 and 2000 kgs for a missed, circuit and land.

If Approach had passed you to Tower, then I would land - sort out the hassle on the ground rather than in the ground later on :eek:

7th Jul 2007, 01:18
No argument - go around.

I failed to make a finals call on a controlled RAF airfield when under training years ago - though totally clear of traffic, the go-around call from the tower made the point that no landing without clearance should be attempted...

...especially since the Army co-used the airfield and frequently crossed the active in a jeep without clearance!

Think - emergency developing, and controller is otherwise occupied sorting it out. He expects you to go-around without clearance, but may not have had time to tell you. Who would look a prat if they ploughed into something they had not seen then...? Alternatively, who would care for the few extra tonnes of fuel burned if you went around and established contact...?

Easy answer.

Only an idiot would attempt a landing without clearance at a controlled airfield: tower controllers don't always sit in the same room as approach and ground controllers remember!

7th Jul 2007, 02:03
You might have an open mike.

If you think you have an open mike, say so on the frequency. That way you've informed Tower you have the open mike. They will give you a green light to land, or red for the miss.

If you cannot free the open mike, deselect the transmitter select switch. At least you're not sending out music to the ears of others as you curse the boss.

Whether you have an open mike or not, next time you brief an arrival make sure you brief where the Tower is located. Then you'll know where to look if searching for a green light. Sounds like 20/20, doesn't it.

Kai Tak, Hongkong. Runway 31. Early morning arrival. My mike gets stuck as we transfer to Tower. I try everything to free it. I even bang Boeing's column-mounted PTT a few times.

Our multi-skilled Captain gets engaged. He tries to use his hand mike, fly the plane, put the flaps out himself and generally save the day.

It's getting ugly. I suggest we go-round. He swears and carries like on like an old chook a little more. Music to the ears...

We go round, fly the missed approach, free the mike of its burden. In due course, Departures tell us to contact Tower. We get a clearance to land.

Talking to the Tower later on, they said they'd been flashing the green at us for some time on the first approach.

Lesson learned: brief where the Tower is located.

Finally, if you are NOT in possession of a clearance to land, don't.

This isn't subjective. Look up your manuals. Recall your training. We're not talking about military aviation here, nor emergencies, just plain old boring commercial aviation.

Keep it boring!

7th Jul 2007, 04:16
'Brief where the tower is located '

I shall have to add that!

sudden Winds
7th Jul 2007, 07:17
me too.....excellent guys...a great pleasure to have discussed this with you.

7th Jul 2007, 10:44
which bring me on to another question....how many pilots of large commercial airliners operating into a busy airport would really be looking out for the flashes of an ALDIS lamp if they went R/T fail. We have one in our tower, busy airport, its apparently never been out the box and probably doesn't work.

7th Jul 2007, 11:05
To be sure, I admit I've rarely ever briefed where the Tower is during my descent briefings, both before or after our issue at Kai Tak.

Nor am I overly familiar with hand signals, until called on to use them when about to park after a diversion where there's limited ground support and signals are needed.

BB has a point.

My contribution was only that the funny thing about aviation is we never seem to make the same mistakes a second time - for at least two years.

By then the lessons we learned from the last stuff up are largely forgotten.

Checking where Tower is located is a sound idea yet rarely required.

No need to reinvent the wheel, but if you can make the edges rounder, all power to you.

And if you ever remember to check where the Tower's located, you may find it to be very useful information, one day, just like knowing those infernal hand signals :ok:

But landing without a clearance...:=

7th Jul 2007, 11:36
As has already been pointed out, a clearance to approach is not a clearance to land.

Last time I visited a tower they had millions of dollars worth of electronic aids and they had Verey Flares ready to go, red and green.

No clearance then No land.

Capt Fathom
7th Jul 2007, 12:01
No clearance then No land.

That's easy to say, but what are you going to do next?

Land straight ahead provided the runway is clear. (We do this all the time at non-controlled airports).
Risk colliding with something on the ground.

Follow the missed approach procedure. Still no contact. Risk colliding with someone in the air?

There is no straight forward answer. Your experience and situational awareness (and gut feeling) on the day will dictate the most prudent course of action.

The regulations do not provide for all scenarios!

7th Jul 2007, 16:50
Follow the missed approach procedure. Still no contact. Risk colliding with someone in the air?


Empty Cruise
7th Jul 2007, 17:23
Capt Fathom,

Hope your local ATC unit does not issue an approach clearance that does not include the eventuality of a missed approach :=

No, in fact, I know they don't... :ugh:

If you go around and follow the published missed approach, you can pick up the pieces afterwards, in the hold somewhere. If you land, you force yourself to take a rather big decision in a rather small amount of time.

No doubt - you go around, end of story. Flying to and from a controlled AD is different from the uncontrolled version of same :(

Doors to Automatic
7th Jul 2007, 19:28

Here's one that should have been a go-around! (see 737 approach from around 3:20 in)

8th Jul 2007, 04:16
The missed approach ends at a hold.

Enter it, check your Lost Comms procedure in whatever manuals you have.

Follow them; it's not hard.

Don't make a bad situation worse.

You cannot land without a clearance.

9th Jul 2007, 10:50
The missed approach ends at a hold

Not always. Many cases are "straight ahead XXXXft and contact ATC."
Ah, but there is a comms problem.

Empty Cruise
9th Jul 2007, 15:58
...and the dilligent observer will find that most of these (all that I can think of at the mo, in fact) have a note or sub-page (like 10-10 or summat) explaining the lost comms missed approach :ok:

9th Jul 2007, 17:13
Happened to me in real life - solution go-around
Visual approach to IOM with the approach then in 2 miles final switch to tower. The Captain gets the freq wrong by .005
So no rising the tower and no clearance to land. We go-around at 100 feet ground rise approach again on the previous and see the mishap on the tower freq. Everybody had a good laugh. And the Capt apologize to the PAX.

Comment from Tower: "Perfectly fine with us to go around as you had no contact". He made sure that we had landing clearance after a visual circuit when we were abeam and confirmed again on final. (I love the English humor)

Nothing happened. I don't want to know what would have happened if we hit something on the runway...

IMO: I would go-around again in this case and sort out the problem later.

Capt Fathom
10th Jul 2007, 14:10
I don't want to know what would have happened if we hit something on the runway...

Well I guess if something was on the runway you would not have landed ... just a thought!

It's not rocket science!

11th Jul 2007, 15:14
that's true :}

galaxy flyer
11th Jul 2007, 20:58
My 2 cents:

If cleared approach and lost comms, couldn't reach the previous controller either, I'd land if I broke cloud and runway clear. Re-entering the clag, figuring out the miss, transition over to another approach, NORDO, seems a lot more risky and troublesome for the controller than landing. Clear day, plenty of fuel, mebbe go-around and have someone wake up the controller, BUT it seems too much like I'm up there flying around, so the ATCOs have something to do. Planes land all the time in my experience sans clearance because there isn't any controllers.

For the sake of argument, controlled field, no answer from the tower, your radios are working based on previous use--would you who say DO NOT land without clearance:

A) Circle the field until fuel exhaustion
B) Divert, VMC or IMC
C) Land and walk over to the tower and find out what's up with them

I'm for C


Brian Abraham
12th Jul 2007, 06:35
ATCers view point here http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=283048

14th Jul 2007, 03:19
Remarkable how we all have differing views on events in life. Nothing threatening or wrong with that. We're all human, and this is a human trait. It's called subjectivity. Yet there are things in life where subjectivity has no place. Landing without a clearance is one of them.

If the reader is a low time pilot pondering what the black of night has in store for him and his limited aviation experience, this thread may have raised some difficult questions.

If the reader is a more experienced pilot who recalls his training, recognizes the rules and the right of ATC and no-one else to give a landing clearance, and the sanctity of same, these are not difficult questions.

What I feel is going on in this thread is that some posters are attempting to avoid making the difficult but fundamentally correct decision in a challenging situation.

Look for the light. If you're at 2 miles or 6 miles and Tower are not responding, transmit blind "Tower xxx123, 2 mile final runway xx, confirm cleared to land?"

Assuming the radio does not spark up and the answer to your question is an emphatic no, they'll give you a red light and you have to go-round.

If the answer to your question is yes, the green comes out and you land.

If a light is not brought out to shine at you, you cannot take the matter into your own hands and land the airplane. You as a Captain don't have the authority to do so. You simply don't have the full picture or the legal right to decide on the ability of the runway to accept you and your (280) tonne airplane.

Laws are a wonderful thing.

Before anyone gets on his high horse with "a Captain has the right to secure the safety of his airplane", just think about what that statement means. First and foremost, of course the Captain has that right. I for one am not doubting or disputing that fact.

Yet if there are established procedures for radio failure and what to do when NOT in possession of a clearance to land and a Captain ignores said procedures and lands without a clearance, it would be difficult to argue that action was not taken for reasons other than expediency.

If you don't have a clearance to land, go round and follow up with what you're trained and asked to do (transmit on another frequency, try another radio set, deselect the transmitter in case of an open mike, try another transmitter, try listening on the NDB (how old is that?), squawk 76, use your cell phone, follow the lost comms procedure).

Stick to procedures. Don't be led on by the siren song of those who say it's my plane and I'll do what I consider is right. What's right is right. In the very, very rare case where what's right is not as clear as it could be, even more reason to follow procedure.

Finally, if things become awfully complicated and overwhelming, break whatever you've got down into smaller parts. Take one step at a time. You have this problem, and it won't go away. It is that you're on final without a landing clearance and the radio seems not to be working.

First things first....

sudden Winds
14th Jul 2007, 04:33
I generally do support the idea of going around, especially if you can´t confirm the the rwy is clear and you suspect a temporary loss of comm scenario.....however, there are some circumstances where going around could complicate things as well.
You mentioned that there seem to be 2 lines of thought here. Those who consider the safety and legal aspect of landing without a clearance and those who also consider the problems related to going around. I´ll get back to this in a few minutes.

As I said before, you observe this difference and consider it a natural thing called subjectivity and at the same time make your poing very clear that there can´t be any subjectivities in a situation like the one described. I have a slightly different name for what you call subjectivity. it´s JUDGEMENT. The way I see it you can´t just say "I´ll go around under pretty much every conceivable scenario if I can´t get the clearance I need". I am not going to get in the technical stuff just now. What I am trying to say is that, maybe landing without a clearance is for you as dangerous as thinking in absolutes is for me....especially in aviation. I am perfectly aware that certain things are not open to discussion. Taking off with a NO GO item is a no no, going below your minimums unless in a terribly critical fuel scenario is another big no no...just to give you a few examples...but this situation is just a bit different and precisely what I was looking for when I started this thread was comments, experiences and opinions (yours included) because I am a rule follower just like you, but at the same time I understand that there are some situations where following a procedure, or a rule, may lead to disaster (remember the MD11 of a canadian airline that had smoke in the cabin and proceeded to dump fuel only to burn, lose control and crash ?, they followed the procedures).

Here comes the technical part...
What if that day (or night) your fuel status wasn´t the ideal, plus there was plenty of traffic around, plus a/c are being radar vectored to a final approach and now you go around as published and then have to fly the approach from an initial approach fix located at the outer marker...now everyone is going one direction and you´re in the opposite...I know if you´re under radar contact they´ll see you, but what if they can´t see someone else or what if they just don´t have time to divert everyone...besides, how are you going to proceed to the IAF, left turn? right turn? what if there´s no radar, mountains all around...I believe ATC expects you to go to your alternate if you go completely lost comm and can´t see a thing, rather than trying a 2nd approach without radios...at least they know what you´ve filed and they´ll keep their eyes open. ATC also expects you to get out of the system as soon as you can, and who can tell me that landing on a clear runway without a clearance is such a fault, considering that the point of absolute safety is on the ground. Taking those passengers back in the air may or may not be the safest couse of action, depending on the circumstances. Again, what if wx conditions are deteriorating and there´s a storm building up fast dead ahead. Also what if this happens after 14 hours of flight, everyone´s tired, human performance is not the same...landing without a clearance is not the same as landing when instructed not to do so, let´s not confuse that..
4PWs, once again. I greatly respect your opinion, that comes from your experience and knowledge, but it is my understanding that certain situations may dictate good judgement to be exercised with no delay, and landing without a clearance sure sounds like a terrible thing, but in the end could be just as valid as going around.

To be clear, my tendency would be to go around, but not after having analyzed the pros and cons and having used all my resources to contact them the way I can, and if I ever suspect I´ll endanger my crew and passengers by putting them back in the air inside a deaf, dumb and somehow blind aircraft, I´ll land while I can still see.

Thank you and everyone else for posting and helping me and others become better and SAFER pilots.

14th Jul 2007, 07:08
(remember the MD11 of a canadian airline that had smoke in the cabin and proceeded to dump fuel only to burn, lose control and crash ?, they followed the procedures).
Errr...? Swissair111 @ Halifax?

What if that day (or night) your fuel status wasn´t the ideal,
Define not ideal? If you're going to land think on low fuel, let ATC know prior to the approach. Also, hear out on the radio to paint a traffic situation picture on one's mind... If you're going to land without adequate fuel to do a missed approach from MAP and do it again, declare a mayday... If you're not comfortable with the fuel level (say less than 1 go around-redo approach and some holding fuel), call a PAN before you get into the situation, being in that situation should only be a result of either bad luck, or poor route familiarity or poor planning or any combination of such.
Have a look at http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=247102

I know if you´re under radar contact they´ll see you, but what if they can´t see someone else or what if they just don´t have time to divert everyone...besides, how are you going to proceed to the IAF, left turn? right turn?
Squawk the 76, keep identing if you want... take your time, ATC will clear people off.

what if there´s no radar, mountains all around...I believe ATC expects you to go to your alternate if you go completely lost comm and can´t see a thing, rather than trying a 2nd approach without radios...at least they know what you´ve filed and they´ll keep their eyes open.
Err... If your fuel status wasn't the ideal, I doubt you'd make your alternate, or it may not be the wise thing to do. You know the traffic situation and airport wx info of your destination prior to your comms failure, why go to a totally new airport where you don't have the same info (assuming total comms fail).
you got TCAS?
Now unless the airport's particular lost comms procedure is "do not proceed to land at this airport and divert"... you follow any lost comms procedure for the airport, and if not, for the region/country.
Even in a non-radar situation, a Lost Comms doesn't mean you can immediately land without clearance. Go-around, 7600 if you must... watch your TCAS, remember the other traffic, then redo the approach under lost comms.
If wx is deteriorating, if you're able to divert, then continue to land at destination, and if unable, divert. In this situation, it depends on the circumstances. If the storm is too near, it wouldn't be wise to continue the approach as if you do go around, you'll be in that wx... If you force the landing, and WX is moving in faster than you anticipated, you'll end up with a broken plane... safer and cheaper for everyone for you to hold or divert.... doesn't take a lost comms to make it different. A fuel situation does...*see above*

besides, how are you going to proceed to the IAF, left turn? right turn? what if there´s no radar, mountains all around.
Proceed to the IAF as published, if under MSA, I doubt there'll be a "no published procedure path on how to go to IAF".

It's a go-around unless you must land.. then land. *grin*


sudden Winds
14th Jul 2007, 07:40
well PK-KAR sorry for my mistake about the MD-11.
As for the rest of your quotes, again....I was just sumarizing a set of scenarios that would put the aircraft in a sensitive situation if a go around is executed. My "unideal fuel status" comment didn´t go as far as minimum fuel status that would deserve a notification to ATC, but just maybe a "just enough fuel" scenario (hope I am clearer with this one)
There seems to be a "by the book" response for almost every scenario, but things could go a lot worse than planned and when ingredients start to add up, you and I know the mixture could be "flammable" so to say.
Now pls don´t think I am trying to get a shortcut and just land in order to avoid having to go thru the hassle of following a lost comm procedure....that´s not what I am trying to say. What I am saying is that there´s a combination of situations that in my opinion COULD justify landing.
All your explanations would definitely get very good score in a sim, where you just turn the motion off, but in reality, introducing all the variables possible, different languages, unfamiliar places, no extra fuel, etc. a landing on a visibly clear runway should not be considered a crime. It ´s a measure to get a pontentially conflicting airplane out of the system. And it is my interpretation that if you ´ve lost comm you can remain VMC and land at an appropriate airport and sort things out at 0 knots, with a fuel flow of 0 pph, etc etc etc...you ´re not breaking the law and shouldn´t be hanged for doing that. It´s contemplated in the books too.
It seems that some of you think that if you land without a clearance you´re completely unprotected or exposed and involved in a legal scandal. I still don´t see why that should happen. I said more than once that I would seriously consider a go around, but I keep saying that would not only consider a go around, but also the other option. As pilots we always have a set of choices and what I´ve been trying to say is that I don´t believe that going around is the ONLY CORRECT choice here for all the possible scenarios and their combinations.
Regards and thank you.

Brian Abraham
14th Jul 2007, 07:44
Posted by Bagheera at http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=283048

Let me tell you a story.....
About 8 years ago I was working as a ground movement controller as part of a team of 5 (Air, Ground, tower assistant, Approach and approach assistant). It was a winter weekend, a quiet day, approaching dusk with a low sun in the sky at the upwind end of the runway.
The Air controller cleared somebody for take off and gave a conditional clearance to an operations vehicle to enter behind for a runway inspection, both clearances were heard and read back. At this time there was an ATP on a closing heading for the localiser about 9miles out, obviously working Approach. The frequency in Tower went quiet.
The ATP was now on a 5 mile final and tower tried to contact with a "xxx123 are you on frequency?" They then turned to me and said "My frequency sounds dead". I selected the tower frequency on receive only and got him to try again. I heard nothing. I switched to transmit and tried....Nothing.
The tower assistant picked up on what was going on and was grabbing for the Aldis lamp and the red and green lenses. Tower told him to attach the red and show it to the operations vehicle on the runway (which was travelling away from us and the landing aircraft) and then to the landing aircraft, now inside 4 miles. Meanwhile I contacted approach and told them if they had the aircraft or re-established contact to sent it around. They transmitted blind as did I on the ground frequency. The aircraft continued to a blocked runway and time started to slow down in that horrible way.
The approach assistant, meantime, got in touch with airfield operations and told them to try the vehicle on the base operations frequency and tell it to vacate immediately.
We saw in tower as the the ops vehicle swerved off the runway on to the grass and clear of the runway strip. The tower assistant switched to the green lens and shone it at the ATP now 2 miles from touchdown. The tower controller had been transmitting blind and now the radio delivered feedback and he confirmed the landing clearance and got a readback.
Whilst taxying in I explained to the aircraft that we had a comms failure and asked if he had seen the lights. The pilot responded that he had believed that it was the aircraft that had the comms failure, that the PNF had been trying to sort it out, that yes he had seen a bright green light but wasnt sure what it meant, he had seen the runway was clear and so elected to land. I asked if he had seen the vehicle on the runway, after a period of silence he said that he had better call in.
The wash up...
If only the JCB hadnt dug through the cables...If only the stanby frequency hadnt taken so long to kick in...If only there wasnt an assumption that the frequency was quiet because it was a quiet day...If only there wasnt an assumption that the problem was on the aircraft...If only the landing aircraft had been on frequency when the ops vehicle was cleared onto the runway...If only the ops vehicle had inspected towards the landing aircraft...If only the setting sun hadnt hidden the ops vehicle from view...If only the PNF hadnt been heads down trying to sort the problem out...If only they knew their light signals and where to look for them...etc etc
These could have been the points I would have been thinking and saying at the subsequent board of enquiry. Fortunately the swiss cheese effect was defeated by good teamwork and maybe a little bit of luck.
Many of our procedures have changed and equipment been upgraded because of this incident. Please do likewise, plug the cheese as early as possible. If no landing clearance, GO AROUND.

The Oz regs state,
AIP ENR A pilot in command must not land unless the specific clearance ‘CLEARED TO LAND’ has been received. (Their bolding, not mine, and no qualifications are attached)

CAR 167 Where aerodrome control is in operation at an aerodrome, the pilot in command of an aircraft forming part of the aerodrome traffic shall:
(a) maintain a continuous listening watch on the radio frequency authorised for communications with aerodrome control service, or, if this is not possible, keep a watch for instructions which may be issued by visual signals; and
(b) obtain, either by radio or visual signals, prior authorisation for any manoeuvre preparatory to or associated with taxi-ing, landing or taking-off.

CAR 169A A pilot in command:
(a) who contravenes regulation 166 or 167; or
(b) who flies an aircraft in contravention of:
(i) a rule specified in subregulation 168 (1); or
(ii) subregulation 169 (1), (2) or (3); or
(iii) a rule specified in subregulation 169 (4) or (5);
is guilty of an offence.

CAR 186 Where radio communication is being used, the pilot in command of an aircraft shall not thereby be relieved of the responsibility of keeping a look out for any instructions which may be issued by visual means.

ERSA EMERG 1.6.4 Note 1. If IMC or uncertain of maintaining VMC – Initial and subsequent actions by the pilot at the time of loss of communications will depend largely on the pilot’s knowledge of the destination aids, the air traffic/air space situation and meteorological conditions en route and at the destination. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO PUBLISH PROCEDURES THAT COVER ALL RADIO FAILURE CIRCUMSTANCES. (My bolding)

ERSA EMERG 1.9.1 At a controlled aerodrome if in receipt of directed aerodrome information and/or a landing clearance (eg a green light or voice modulated navigation aid etc) the pilot may continue a runway approach.

ERSA EMERG 1.9.2 If NOT visual at the circling minima, depart for suitable alternate aerodrome. However, if in receipt of directed aerodrome information indicating that a runway approach is available and the runway is available for landing, the the pilot may continue the descent to the appropriate minima and if visual land, otherwise depart for suitable alternate aerodrome.

ERSA EMERG 1.9.3 If insufficient fuel is carried to divert to a suitable alternate, the pilot may hold or carry out additional approaches until visual.

So to answer the original question as put, you can not land without a clearance and since you are visual expect a green light. If that is not forthcoming in a timely fashion you are obliged to go around. As you are at 2 miles, and although visual at that point, it may be that the weather is below the circling minima. Now, if the loss of coms is due to a fire in the electronics bay and you become aware of the fact at 1.999999 miles, well ………………..!!!!!!!!

14th Jul 2007, 08:10
You've raised an interesting point in posting this thread, SW, which is what Tech Log is all about. Well done in setting the tone for this discussion, but you are drifting, friend.

Your last post has added one or two complications to the initial 'we're on a 2 mile final and the radio doesn't seem to be working' post. In the case of the exceedingly unfortunate Swiss (not Canadian) MD-11 crew and their unfortunate punters, I cannot comment other than to say that, where necessary, procedures are changed. In this case, they have been.

For an uncontrollable in-flight fire, everyone, from the most junior of cabin attendants to the most senior pilot, is now acutely aware of the need to get on the ground with uncommon haste. We all were before the MD-11 crash anyway, though not only has this necessity been highlighted through the harsh reality of Swiss Air's experience but procedures have actually changed, where necessary.

Nonetheless, we wouldn't want to go throwing out the baby with the bathwater. That is to say if there is ever smoke in the cabin, we should not panic and call Mayday while diving for the ground or mid-ocean without at least attempting to determine whether or not the smoke and/or fire is controllable.

On the subject of minimum fuel at 600' (2 mile final) and no radio contact with Tower whilst battling against poor weather in a tight airspace environment, let me say I admire you are asking us to consider the prospect before it happens. I would add, however, that when faced with such a situation it would rarely if ever be the case that this is presented to you with seconds to decide.

To wit, you would know about your fuel state well before the final descent to land. The awareness would either be from a position enroute; at top of descent from cruise altitude, or when about to exit an extended hold in the terminal area, due traffic or other issues that required the hold in the first place.

If you were not aware of the fuel state earlier, well, I just don't know why a pilot wouldn't be, so let's not debate that one. Assuming you were aware of a low fuel state exiting the LAM hold into Heathrow, for instance, which is at a latter stage of the flight and quite realistic, then yeah, getting into a position at 2 miles final with no contact on Tower frequency is a tough one.

But the answer remains: go around.

If you are at a significantly low fuel state, you would have declared either a PAN or a MAYDAY, depending on your company policy. Incidentally, our policy is to declare a mandatory PAN any time you're looking at or below 30 minutes endurance on landing; a MAYDAY call is mandatory at any time it becomes evident there will be less than or equal to 15 minutes endurance on landing.

So if you're in that state, PAN or MAYDAY, you can be absolutely assured Tower will have a green light waiting for you should ****e turn to trumps and your communications be lost or unachievable. Failure then to obtain a green light is not to be confused with a clearance to land in any less a manner than receiving a RED light under the same circumstances.

If you were given a RED light when in the situation you've described and I've laid out in the above paragraph, surely you'd not land then?

So to the worst of worst cases: indeed, you are at the 2 mile position, you have declared a MAYDAY, you were in contact with Approach but are not in contact with Tower and they HAVE shown you a red light.

You go-round, as you must.

Faced with imminent failure of one or more engines, you reduce your pitch angle, reduce your thrust to that which can be considered minimum, take the gear and landing flaps up, but no more, keep the turn tight so you stay close to the airfield as you conduct a 2 mile wide visual approach by night or by day, in good weather or foul. Not visual? Come on. Let's be reasonable. If you weren't visual you'd not have seen the runway and couldn't land.

You have, after all, declared an emergency. And you have, again, been acknowledged by Approach/Tower as a MAYDAY, one whose comms have now been established by Tower as lost, hence the use of the ALDIS lamp.

In this situation, the answer is again simple enough. You do the circuit. While you're doing said circuit, the runway is cleared. You get onto finals and land, this time with the clearance. To suggest you'll get a second red light is going a bit far. We do need to keep this issue in perspective.

For the case where you've not declared an emergency, or state of urgency, you have most definitely got enough fuel to go-round, enter a hold and carry out the procedure.

I am concerned you might be overly worrying some readers. You have made quite a few odd statements, not least of which are, quote, "from an initial approach fix located at the outer marker...now everyone is going one direction and you´re in the opposite...I know if you´re under radar contact they´ll see you, but what if they can´t see someone else or what if they just don´t have time to divert everyone...besides, how are you going to proceed to the IAF, left turn? right turn? what if there´s no radar, mountains all around...

I believe ATC expects you to go to your alternate if you go completely lost comm and can´t see a thing, rather than trying a 2nd approach without radios", unquote.

1. The IAF is not at the outer marker, sir.

2. Everyone is not going in the opposite direction, if you enter the hold correctly. This is expected of you if you have an instrument rating.

3. Whether you're under radar or not, entering a hold is entering protected airspace. Doing so in a non-radar environment means little difference to doing so in a radar environment from the perspective of separation. The latter case simply means you will conduct yourself procedurally, which in fact ensures more separation.

4. If under radar control and 'seen', that is to say, you're a target on the radar screen, so are all the other aircraft.

5. 'don't have time to divert everyone' is not the way things work. You, as a declared low fuel-state PAN or MAYDAY, under the added strain of a lost comms scenario, are an absolute priority. All other aircraft will be sequenced calmly and efficiently and in good order. We're talking about professional Air Traffic Controllers here.

6. Not sure what you mean by 'how are you going to proceed to the IAF, left turn or right turn'. You will do as you should do when following the procedural approach. You cannot ask questions like this if you're to be considered seriously.

7. Quote, "I believe ATC expects you to go to your alternate if you go completely lost comm and can´t see a thing, rather than trying a 2nd approach without radios", unquote....May I ask what it is that makes you think anything? Reason, surely.

Is it reasonable to think your favorite armchair will take up arms and walk away when you try and sit on it? It is no more reasonable to think your chair will do so than it is to think ATC expect you to go to an alternate airport when you 'go completely lost comms'.

ATC expect you not to land without a clearance; to follow the missed approach procedure; to enter and exit the hold accordingly; to commence a second approach under a Lost Communications Procedure in accordance with the dictates of Lost Communciations Procedures.

Keep it real, people, and keep it real simple! By all means let's all ask questions. But let's all avoid positing ridiculous scenarios and any old nonsense that bears little or no semblance to reality.

14th Jul 2007, 09:30
How troubling to read you feel the rules identified by posters merely make for good points in a simulator.

sudden Winds
14th Jul 2007, 20:46
alright 4PWs, just a few things not to make this an ever lasting thread.

1)When I mentioned the Swiss air MD11 accident it was only to give you an example that blind accpetance of procedures is not always the safest course of action, not to start a discussion on that particular accident, and hey, my big, enormous and deepest apologies for having made a mistake on the airline, everyone made it very clear how wrong I was...

2)I wasn´t trying to say that following rules is something that ONLY works well in a sim...I am disappointed you interpreted that. I am also dissapointed at your "avoid posting ridiculous scenarios" comment.

3)Maybe your definition of "use of judgement" is slightly different than mine in this lost comm case that I presented. Your judgement calls for a mandatory go around under all circumstances no matter what if you can´t get a verbal or visual clearance to land. Mine is "stick to the rules, go around if you can´t get a clearance, but if there´s a safety concern involved with that go around, landing on a visibly clear runway, with no red lights coming from the tower is definitely one possibility, and again, it´s written somewhere.

I perfectly understand there´s no such a thing as "a safety concern with going around" for you. And this is the point I´d like to briefly discuss.
Maybe where you fly, theory and reality are close together. Where I fly, quite a few times you´re on your own, and staying more time in the air than necessary may complicate things and put the airplane in a difficult situation, and I assure you that if faced with a lost comm scenario on final approach having to go back in the air with no radios and all these other local ingredients adding up is a lot more complicated and risky than just confirming rwy is clear and landing. Some examples of that are..untrained ATC personnel, lack of tower lights !!!, lack of radar, lack of suitable alternate airports with sevices nearby, and political issues. In general I´d go around but I wouldn´t blindly go around without also considering the problems associated with that.

Thank you once again for replying, Sir.


14th Jul 2007, 22:28
Dun worry mate, I enjoy this discussion, it explores the possibilities of when one has to go by something else than the book... My answers does not mean that one has to go by those answers... as some have said here, it all depends on the situation on that day... The answers, ranging from the right to the wrong, are very useful for one to expand oneself and start thinking... coz when the scenario happens, they'd be better prepared. However, the regs are regs. Unless for safety reasons beyond doubt, the regs are there for a reason...

1. We're not killing you for misidentifying the airline... Blind acceptance of the procedures is not wise, one should know the logic behind why emergency procedures are made as such. Procedures are there so you take the right actions... if the procedures are wrong, it's not your fault, misidentifying or not carrying out the right procedure in response to the emergency, IS.

2. Sorry, but I am disappointed in "where you just turn the motion off" part of that sentence.

Different languages? You're in lost comms, the lingo don't matter anymore... the lost comms procedure for that airport/tma/fir are written in their lingo AND English...

Unfamiliar place? You got the approach chart? Follow it.

No extra fuel? Low on fuel? Why didn't you declare it beforehand? As said by 4PWs, you do not wait until you're on a 2NM final to declare you're low on fuel (unless your tanks or fuel lines suddenly develop major leak at a 2NM final)... EFOBs on the FMC, fuel tank and fuel flow gauges, and reference fuel consumption tables are there for a reason... to prevent you from being in this situation without knowing about the dire situation beforehand! You calculate your landing weight to get your approach speed right? Landing weight - dry weight = fuel on board...

Good scores in the sim, and it keeps you alive.

3. "Mine is "stick to the rules, go around if you can´t get a clearance, but if there´s a safety concern involved with that go around, landing on a visibly clear runway," means you're in an emergency and not able to contact the tower. This is different from a "2NM tower, visual with the runway, call the tower for clearance and you hear nothing." With no emergency, judgement calls for a mandatory go-around.

Some examples of that are..untrained ATC personnel, lack of tower lights !!!, lack of radar, lack of suitable alternate airports with sevices nearby, and political issues. In general I´d go around but I wouldn´t blindly go around without also considering the problems associated with that.

Untrained ATC personnel? I would go around! If they're as bad as I think you're saying, I'd be having a higher risk of running into something on the runway with or without clearance than going around. On a landing roll, the options to avoid something in your way is more limited than in the air (Single point entry/exit airports and mountains exempted).

Lack of tower lights still means go around, and come back in under a lost comms.

Lack of radar again, is a non-issue, unless the traffic is overflowing and you get pilots regularly not obeying ATC instructions... but then, again, it's easier to safely avoid another plane in the air than a stationary goat on the runway while you're on a landing roll!

Lack of suitable alternate airports = you should land with ample fuel to do the go around and come back in under lost comms. Do you guys have a rule for fuel requirements for "destination without a suitable alternate" ?

Political issues? What kind? The ones that will shoot your plane if you go around or the ones that will yield troops visiting your plane if you land without a landing clearance? Or where mobs will invade the ramp when they know you're coming if you do make a go-around? (If the last one, then yeah, I wouldn't go around... coz in such a situation, the regs are just a formality).

A few months ago here, 1 jet was on very short finals, got another one about 5 miles behind, and another one heading to the IAF... called the tower, nothing, 1st jet went around, called tower again, no response, each aircraft transmitted blindly stating their intentions. 1st and 2nd plane did their own separation, 3rd airplane went in under lost comms. A 4th, diverted. Visibility was 8000m, though a nice thundery cloud was coming towards the field, albeit a go-around would still be away from the cloud.

What happened? The airport lost power and the emergency gens couldn't get started.

Another case, a lightning strike hit the airport's power supply, killed all beacons, lights radios at the airport. What happened? the guy on finals and everyone else diverted.

In both cases, the crew of all the aircraft followed the regs correctly.


galaxy flyer
15th Jul 2007, 02:55

Are you stating that #1 and #2 were better off providing their "own separation" were safer than if they just landed with 5 miles separation? And safer than the one that landed under "lost coms"? If you believe you have lost comm AND are VMC, I submit landing, IF the runway is clear. If VMC is assured in the circuit, a go-around and trip around it is certainly the best answer, but returning to the clag, following the missed procedure seems to hold more risk than just landing, clear runway, of course. It does have elements of judgment, not being pedantic.

Interesting problem, though. Tying the JFK thread together, anyone for flying a missed approach and finding their way back to CRI, NORDO, for a second VOR 13L/R approach on any Friday night. Of course, if you got the freq wrong, selecting the approach freq should solve the problem quickly. Or not.


sudden Winds
15th Jul 2007, 10:23
That reasoning is just about what I´ve been trying to explain unsuccessfully. There are certain situations that do justify landing, the way I see it.

I respect 4pws and pk kar as their posts reflect a huge amount of experience and knowledge, but I still disagree on the "go around under all circumstances" concept.

The "where you just turn the motion off" part of the sentence is clarified in a later post, where I explain that there are certain flying regions where theory and reality aren´t that close together, and previous knowledge of certain permanent conditions, sometimes can give you some more elements to choose what you could consider a better option...Didn´t mean to be disappointing..white flag waved...

Untrained ATC personnel? Yes, with questionable ability to handle the traffic they can talk to while someone else is trying to land with their radios inop, especially those not speaking that country´s language.

Lack of tower lights, you´ll never get the green light you ´ll be willing to wait for till you start using rsv fuel.

Lack of radar, even if you follow procedures, it´s not the same.

That´s how I see it, you don´t have to agree. For the tenth time I´ll say that I DO !!! support the idea of a go around, but I´d not blindly do that without also considering the risks involved in going back into the air and having to follow a procedure that requires everyone involved to know what they´re doing, when I have reasons to suspect some of them may not know what to do.
Best Regards and thank you.

PS: 4pws, so you´ve never seen an Initial approach fix over the outer marker, where you just cross the fix, fly outbound for a while, then do a procedure turn and then come back in? It´s full of them in the States.

15th Jul 2007, 16:53
In that case, "area familiarity" is thrown into the equation, and that can throw a lot of things from the book to go out of the window... If one is unfamiliar with the place, unless the company notes say "at airport X, land at first opportunity despite lost comms", do the go-around and the required procedures.

2 mile final, rwy in sight, a big jet. You´re on Tower frequency, call for clearance, nothing, no response whatsoever, nothing on the radio...land or go around?
If the question is phrased as such and only such... go-around.

Putting the following:
I explain that there are certain flying regions where theory and reality aren´t that close together, and previous knowledge of certain permanent conditions, sometimes can give you some more elements to choose what you could consider a better option...Didn´t mean to be disappointing..white flag waved...

In the the original question:
2 mile final, rwy in sight, a big jet. You´re on Tower frequency, call for clearance, nothing, no response whatsoever, nothing on the radio...land or go around?
Would yield a different answer... so, let's modify the question into:
2 mile final back to homebase, rwy in sight, a big jet. You´re on Tower frequency, call for clearance, nothing, no response whatsoever, nothing on the radio, seems that the guy at the tower is listening to his MW radio again, two other traffic in vicinity known to be reckless and has given me near collisions in the past, and no one seems to care about the regs...land or go around?
In this particular instance, I'd land.. only if going-around would beyond doubt put me in greater risk regardless of how good the crew's airmanship is.

If you'd explained all these in the original question... we would have finished this discussion sometime ago. :}