View Full Version : Communications Question

11th Mar 2009, 02:17
Not sure if this is the best place to ask this sort of question, apologies if not but will learn where it is moved to.

In the The Aviation Herald (http://avherald.com/h?article=416477a9&opt=0) article it refers to the A320 losing communications due to electrical failure. And then says that the flight crew managed to establish contact, declared emergency then landed.

My question is should the radio(s) (I would imagine there are more than one) become unserviceable what are the available (by this I mean not just happening to have a vhf or cell phone handy) options for declaring an emergency - if any - or is it you proceed with caution relying on ATC to be on the ball and clear the path?

I dont doubt this will differ from aircraft type but was just wondering what would be happening had the A320 in the article not been able to achieve communication.



11th Mar 2009, 02:27
Light signals...each tower has 'em
Steady green....cleared to land.

11th Mar 2009, 06:04
My question is should the radio(s) (I would imagine there are more than one) become unserviceable what are the available (by this I mean not just happening to have a vhf or cell phone handy) options for declaring an emergency - if any - or is it you proceed with caution relying on ATC to be on the ball and clear the path?

- there is a transponder code for comm failure and
- if the crew doesn't answer, ATC will assume comm failure anyway
- at some airports VORs and ILS transmitters can be used by ATC for R/T

hope this helps.

11th Mar 2009, 06:30
- there is a transponder code for comm failure

Sure it does thanks :) - is this what they mean by squawking ?

I can understand the green light approach as 411a points out, but was thinking what if you were not in final glide path and all transmission lost.

There was an incident (not going into reasons right now another thread is already open) whereby the flight got intercepted after 1:40 mins out of contact. Regardless of that incident I was wondering if there was a standard training on what to do - i.e. identify all was okay and your intentions.

Sorry again if this does not be the forum - perhaps I should give a hypothetical scenario - what if you were stacking above bovingdon for heathrow and were 5th in when all communications via normal channels were lost - what do you do ?

p.s. I only mentioned bovingdon as I am born and bread from there

11th Mar 2009, 06:41
Yes, a squawk is a transponder code.

There are flight procedures published which cover pretty much every situation. The trouble is that loss of comms is not usually a simple, black or white situation - comms involves at least two parties and they will become aware of the loss at different times and often there are degrees of degraded comms. Nonetheless, in a well developed and 'mature' environment there are plenty of ways that comms failure can be handled.

11th Mar 2009, 07:07
Dig out your mobile/cell phone and ring them up for a clearance. It's part of the lost comms procedure for several airports I know of, and before the usual lunatics chip in about mobile phone use while airborne, I've inadvertently left my phone on a couple of times while being the PF and the only adverse effect was that the phone battery went flat. :*


11th Mar 2009, 07:25
I thought it was the squawking from transponders - hence I believe I have read people asked to squawk before - I may be wrong.

What happens if that does not work ?

I can appreciate 411A has cut to the chase as to the signalling on final approach - but say your mid destination, ok you want most local airport but you guys would be best to plays devils advocat to worst situation.

I can appreciate you want as early touch down as possible - but should you be far enough out what would you do.

The ATC you cant communicate with as radio down - your near squawking - do you just proceed ?

11th Mar 2009, 08:35
<<Light signals...each tower has.>>

Nice one, 411A, but sadly not true for many airfields.. well, not in the UK anyway.

11th Mar 2009, 12:03
Silly theoretical question:

Using the Tx box in this situation, could you communicate with the outside world using other than 7600? I was thinking along the lines of perhaps a series of codes e.g. 0001 = A, 0002 = B etc and keying them in sequentially or perhaps a crude form of morse by turning on the box on then off to send a message.

Pugilistic Animus
11th Mar 2009, 17:01
In the US you'd follow standard 'lost coms procedure' WRT to altitudes and routes; unless on a 'RADAR required' procedure or vectoring is expected

in that case you follow the written lost com procedures for the airspace

The reason you are still issued clearance limits in RADAR airspace, is the basic goal is to arrive at your clearance limit at the flight plan time or hold at an intermediate area until such time as you may proceed to your clearance limit and then you may proceed with any available approach....that's IFR procedure,
it's not an emergency by the way only an annoyance ATC knows all about you,..hence the flight plan

11th Mar 2009, 17:06
I know someone who did the NOKIA 1A approach into an airport, after he lost comms in a C152...

As for light signals, i asked a few times to see them when i was hours building, for the experience, but dont think i ever saw them in the daylight...

12th Mar 2009, 03:01
....but sadly not true for many airfields.. well, not in the UK anyway.
My Gawd, and to think, the airmail used to be flown over coloured airways, with light signals for takeoff and landing.

Whatever has the world come to...?:\:E

And now, for an actual problem.
Cairo, circa 2005.
Holding for over one hour, as the vis dropped to 400 meters at times.
Most other aircraft diverted, but our good 'ole L1011 carried an extra two hours fuel.
Because, the Captain (yours truly) decided it was a smart thing to do.
So, clerared for ILS 23L, contact tower.
As the First Officer was flying, I called the tower.

"Good morning Cairo, LN202 at 8 miles inbound, 23L." No answer.
Just at this moment, the ILS for 23L tripped off, the Cairo VOR as well...and the only navaid left was the CAI NDB, 201kc.

I called Cairo ground.
A very weak ground control informed us that a big JCB has just sliced through a quite large electrical cable, which affected all Cairo VHF communications, except....the ground control frequency, and it was 'cleared to land 23L.'
Once on the ground, ground control then wanted to know how we found the airport, as the vis was now 550 meters in blowing sand. ILS, OTS.
The answer?
Dual Honeywell HT9100 GPS units, that's how.
Dead accurate, every time.

12th Mar 2009, 03:50
several procedures to adhere to, including the 7 minutes that atc will expect me to adhere to (still very confused why this wasn't mentioned to me during atpl or during line training. But hey, found it in the wee yellow aerad book and was also told about it during my visit to scottish tma (absolutel awesome day btw))

Anyways, worst comes to worst, if i do absolutely nothing i'll expect to find a tornado/typhoon/F16 next to me. I'll give him a friendly wave, pull out my digital camera take some pikkies for the grandkids (when i eventually have them, obviously need kids first) and do whatever they want me to. Then call the relevant atc when on the ground and apologise profusely.

On a slightly more serious note, i will do both paragraphs 1 and 2, but i also have the phone numbers for london and scottish distress stored on my phone, and even over italy i'll call em up and we can sort something out.

Mods if you feel the next is innapropriate then feel free to delete it, however 2 very useful numbers for all pilots

1) London distress: 01895 426150
2) scottish distress 01292 682380

Put those numbers in your phones and use them if you need to.

12th Mar 2009, 05:04

In this thread it is being mentioned to "use mobile/cell phone to make calls"!
May sound rather silly,but in the region that I fly there is no mobile connectivity once you are airborne.So making a call is impossible.:confused:
So,are there regions where this is possible?


12th Mar 2009, 08:35
Nice one, 411A, but sadly not true for many airfields.. well, not in the UK anyway.Perhaps this is a little misleading. Certainly up to 3 or 4 years ago - and maybe still the case - the rules said that all UK airports with ATC had to have a signalling lamp...but Heathrow was exempted from this.

Pugilistic Animus
12th Mar 2009, 17:13
We follow in terms of Routes and Altitudes, '7600 AVE-F'

as follows from 14 CFR 91.185:

[also transmit in the blind, try to switch frequencies, yes, cell phone, and try to find a VFR field if possible,...light gun]

Routes to be flown in this order:
Assigned, by ATC
Vectored, by ATC
Expected, Given in the clearance delivery "expect FL 280 /BETTE, one zero minutes after departure"
Filed, in the flight plan

and the Highest of the following
Minimum En route /IFR altitude/FL for the route segment flown

In the event of a required deviation due to Wx etc...[I hope you are in RADAR airspace:\] squawk 7700/alternate w 7600 and transmit blind, and Good luck:eek:]

perhaps the procedure elsewhere would be similar

if in doubt, refer to the AIP/AIM or your company OpSpecs /procedures for the appropriate FIR.


12th Mar 2009, 23:34
The basic procedure in Aus is to squawk 7600, transmit blind, listen to voice modulated navaids (e.g., one that has an ATIS), track in accordance with your last acknowledged clearance, descend in accordance with standard company procedures to the initial approach alt for the most appropriate approach, carry out the approach to the circling mins, then circle to land.

Ultimately the goal is to operate in a predictable manner as this makes it easier for ATC to work around you.

13th Mar 2009, 08:55
Thx for answers all - hopefully it wont happen to any for real !

13th Mar 2009, 23:42
How about being VMC and staying VMC and going somewhere VMC. I don't know where in the world the rest of you are flying but I'd say 99% of the time that should do the trick if all else fails. Going into a major hub in bad weather with lots of traffic and no comms... :ugh:

14th Mar 2009, 00:01
bfisk, the assumption is that staying VMC and diverting are not options.

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