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What If The Radio Went Out During Flight?  
User currently offlineSquirrel83 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4979 times:

WHAT IF THE RADIO WENT OUT AT ANY DURATION OF THE FLIGHT?

I know this is an odd question but no one has ever asked it.

I guess my first question is if it is even possible for the radio to go out during flight? If so what are the procedures? What type of backup systems do the aircrafts have to prevent this from happening, or if it does happen is there a backup radio system?

Secondly has this ever occurred before? If so when, what airline, flight ect. . .

I know these days everyone has a cell phone so could/would the pilot ever lower his altitude to make a call letting them know the radio is out - -

31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineC172 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 109 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4970 times:

The pilot would check his avionics equipment, mics, etc. On many aircraft there is a second radio for both convenience and redundancy. If he's sure he has an equipment failure, he'd tune the transponder to 7600, which is included somewhere in the "loss of radio communications" checklist.  checkmark 

With modern redundancy, an airliner isn't likely to completely lose its radios without losing some other very important things as well.

In GA aircraft, radio failure is much more common. Multi-colored light gun signals from the tower are used as a backup method of communication. However, the majority of pilots don't even know the signals. It helps to have it placarded in the cockpit somewhere.

On the rare day that I did lose my radios (happened on the ground), the tower's light gun was broken. We had a laugh about it afterwards in the lobby of the airport. The days of Cessna flyin'.




 dopey c172... what will he think of next? drunk 


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31568 posts, RR: 57
Reply 2, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4932 times:

Backup systems Exist.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4927 times:

There is also a transponder sqwak code that you dial in that alerts ATC to your problem.

User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4923 times:

Backups fail - extremely rarely but it is still possible.

So, taking Squirrel's question a little further, let's take a worst case scenario. If a passenger 747 lost all comms, how would it land?

Perhaps better asked in the Tech/Ops forum maybe.

Geoff M.


User currently offlineAvroArrow From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 1045 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4911 times:

Well if they lost ONLY the comms and not the nav equipment, IFR procedure allows them to squawk the transponder code for lost comms and continue their flightplan as filed. It then becomes the responsibility of ATC to clear the way for the aircraft.
The Canadian regulation on this is here:
http://www.tc.gc.ca/CivilAviation/Re...Affairs/cars/PART6/602.htm#602_137
I should imagine that this is the same or similar the world over?



Give me a mile of road and I can take you a mile. Give me a mile of runway and I can show you the world.
User currently offlineWoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 978 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4839 times:

It depends on when you lose it.

If you are in VMC conditions, you stay in VMC conditions and land VMC.

If you are in IMC conditions, you fly the route in the order:
- the route assigned to you, or
- if you're on a vector, to the fix you are being vectored, or
- the route that you were told to expect, or
- in the absence of any of the previous three, the route that you filed in the flight plan.

Meantime, you keep trying to talk to ATC, switch radios, switch frequencies, determine whether you have a radio problem or an audio control panel problem. squawk 7600

That's the operational procedure, you don't stop flying the airplane.

As far as the procedure for getting the radios to work, it depends on the airplane and how well you know your equipment. If you're flying a 172, and your radios stop working, try turning off the comm selector panel.

Cell phone? What number are you going to call?  Smile



Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
User currently offlineG550 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 29 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4829 times:

Quoting Woodreau (Reply 6):
Cell phone? What number are you going to call?

Call up flight service, they can talk to center or approach for you and even possibly give you center's number.


User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 24
Reply 8, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4802 times:

THE radio? Most airliners have two if not three VHF comm radios, as well as usually a couple of HF sets. If all those fail together, the gods must be really angry, in which case you might just as well give up! If things are that bad, the ATC transponder will probably be broken too!  Smile

There's also ACARS, which would be able to send any revisions to ATC clearance in text form. I know it requres a working VHF radio, but digital data might get through where voice can't.



The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offlineSCCutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5393 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4793 times:

While flying in the Dallas area last spring, I did hear Regional Approach handling an AA flight (it was a "heavy") which had lost comms; they could apparently still hear the App controler, because after he instructed "AAxxxx heavy, if you can hear this transmission, squawk ident," he said "Ident received."

From that point on, for all practical purposes, it was almost like a regular arrival, with the AA plane acknowledging instructions with Idents.

For those who do not know, when I wrote "squawk ident," it relates to the "Ident" button on the transponder which, when pushed, causes the transaponder to send a special signal which is shown on the controllers radar scope. Usually used to assist controllers to quickly identify a particular aircraft in traffic (especially one squawking VFR), it is aquick and easy way to have an alternate way to respond "yep, got it."

But I can also say that, in all the years I have flown, both as a pilot and as a passenger, it was the first time I had ever heard an airliner go lost comm, and even then, it was transmit only.

As for me, I always carry a charged handheld nav/com, just in case, when I fly. A convenience in VFR conditions; a potential lifesaver in IMC.



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offline727EMflyer From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 547 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 4793 times:

Happened to me last weekend! I was inbound to OGG and made my call to enter charlie airspace, but didn't hear my voice over the headset, and heard no reply from the tower. Rather than enter charlie with no comms, I made a 360 where I was, tried again, failed, and switched to the second radio. This time I got through, and OGG approach didn't make any comments about my first two calls, so we assumed the primary (brand new by the way) was dead. Inbound my brother (copilot) fiddled with the dead one to no avail, but after we landed, shut down and started back up it was just fine!

User currently offlineAFHokie From United States of America, joined May 2004, 224 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4677 times:

Quoting SCCutler (Reply 9):
While flying in the Dallas area last spring, I did hear Regional Approach handling an AA flight (it was a "heavy") which had lost comms; they could apparently still hear the App controler, because after he instructed "AAxxxx heavy, if you can hear this transmission, squawk ident," he said "Ident received."

From what my brain recalls, isn't using the ident feature also a way to minimize radio trans, by having the aircraft acknowledge with an ident instead of responding with a voice trans?


User currently offlineJush From Germany, joined Apr 2005, 1636 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 4633 times:

Quoting N79969 (Reply 3):
There is also a transponder sqwak code that you dial in that alerts ATC to your problem.

Well dude that's the 7600 on the squawk as aforementioned.
Cheers



There is one problem with airbus. Though their products are engineering marvels they lack passion, completely.
User currently offlineSCCutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5393 posts, RR: 26
Reply 13, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 4585 times:

Quoting AFHokie (Reply 11):
From what my brain recalls, isn't using the ident feature also a way to minimize radio trans, by having the aircraft acknowledge with an ident instead of responding with a voice trans?

Not really; "Ident" is rarely if ever used when you are flying in the IFR system, since you are already assigned and squawking a discrete code and, therefore, readily identifiable without the necessity of an additional "squawk." Airliners are always in the IFR system under positive control.

If, on the other hand, you are flying VFR (1200), and contact a radar-equipped controller (example: one always contacts regional Approach to sequence into ADS, my home plate), he might look at he scope in the general area you reported as your position and see half a dozen potentials to be "you"; a quick "Busgsmasher one four zulu, squawk ident" can immediately isolate which plane is the right one.

While using ident might seem a novel way to reduce radio clutter, simply acknowledging an instruction takes so little time anyway, that it's not a real problem (and besides, every pilot out there would acknowledge the squawk instruction on the radio, as well, anyway!). Long-term, we will go to a system of using digital data links for receiving and acknowledging instructions (some airliners in oceanic service do this now), but for now, voice rules.



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29698 posts, RR: 59
Reply 14, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 4569 times:

You know there was a time that airplanes didn't even have radios...it isn't a part critical for flight, unlike say the wing.

Quoting AvroArrow (Reply 5):
Well if they lost ONLY the comms and not the nav equipment, IFR procedure allows them to squawk the transponder code for lost comms and continue their flightplan as filed. It then becomes the responsibility of ATC to clear the way for the aircraft.
The Canadian regulation on this is here:
http://www.tc.gc.ca/CivilAviation/Re...Affairs/cars/PART6/602.htm#602_137
I should imagine that this is the same or similar the world over?

Pretty much the same story here north of the border in the US. Squawk inop radio if available and continue as filed.



OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6199 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3910 times:

Quoting Squirrel83 (Thread starter):
I know these days everyone has a cell phone so could/would the pilot ever lower his altitude to make a call letting them know the radio is out

Descending to a lower altitude to use a cell phone isn't part of any procedure. If you're in the soup, it could kill you. Always maintain the highest of the assigned, expected, or MEA altitudes. On the otherhand, a handheld radio is a great airplane-independent backup to have (and an extra set of batteries too). Climbing will improve the range on that handheld radio and keep you away from dangerous terrain. Also, if the COM radio(s) have aren't working properly, it't usually operator-error related. Check your headset connections, try the handheld mike, check the volume, check the frequency, adjust the squelch, and ensure you're transmitting on the radio you think you're transmitting on. Even if you think the radio has failed, it may just be the transmitter or reciever. Transmit in the blind because they may be able to hear you even if you can't hear them, that way you'll be able to keep them apprised of your intentions. Also, try listening up on the NAV radios because if you're able to pick up a nearby VOR, LOC, or NDB station, they may be trying to get ahold of you over those frequencies. If you're VFR, you'll want to overfly the field to determine the wind, active runway, and traffic conditions. Then enter the pattern normally and look for light gun signals from the tower. You can acknowledge by rocking your wings. If you can select a nearby nontower airport to use NORDO, that would probably be better than using Addison. Then if Addison was the only place you want to have your radio repaired, the prudent pilot would call the tower on the telephone and arrange to arrive by light-gun signals. Woodreau already explained the procedures if under IFR. You're automatically cleared for any approach at the destination airport at the ETA on the flight plan.

Quoting C172 (Reply 1):
However, the majority of pilots don't even know the signals.

They better. I've had to use them twice. Once departing Ft. Worth Alliance and once arriving College Station Easterwood. The single COM radio was one of those old types that you turn the knob and the frequency appears as mechanical digits on the face of the knob. Unfortunately, the frequency I was looking at on the knob wasn't the same frequency the radio was tuning.

Quoting Woodreau (Reply 6):
Cell phone? What number are you going to call?

Ghostbusters, of course  Smile

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 8):
If all those fail together, the gods must be really angry, in which case you might just as well give up!

With three-bus operation on the C-5, you lose all radios and only have one INU for navigation. The plane still flies so there's no reason to "give up". I don't know if it's ever happened, but if it does it isn't your day.

Quoting AFHokie (Reply 11):
From what my brain recalls, isn't using the ident feature also a way to minimize radio trans, by having the aircraft acknowledge with an ident instead of responding with a voice trans?

You wouldn't use the IDENT feature unless you're told to by the controller. Occasionally you might hear "acknowledge with IDENT", but don't just do it on your own.

Quoting L-188 (Reply 14):
Pretty much the same story here north of the border in the US

The U.S. is south of the Canadian border  Wink



Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 16, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3900 times:

If all the radios go out check any DC-powered engine instrument. It should be reading zero. Check an AC-powered engine tachometer. Move the throttles and observe that the reading does not change.

These things mean that all of your engines have quit and they took the battery with them.

Glide
Land



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineCoolGuy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 414 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3824 times:

What about if a plane loses both its transponder and radios. Assume it is flying under part 121. I know it's unlikely without other systems failing too, etc. But what would the correct procedure be to land?

User currently offlineSilverComet From Mauritius, joined exactly 7 years ago today! , 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3786 times:

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 16):

  

In all seriousness though, it happened to one of my fellow students once, while I was still in flight school. Somehow during flight he accidentally hit the 'alternator' switch, turning it off. The instructor never noticed. After a while they ran out of juice and lost all electrics. It was a VFR flight and they were flying a CAP10, so it flew just fine without a working battery. They simply turned back to the field, did a couple of passes over the runway rocking their wings to signal lost comms and landed without further incident.

I do not know whether the instructor tried tuning the alternator back on in flight, or if he ever realised he was running on battery for the last half hour, but what i do know is that my colleague got a thorough debriefing that day. 

[Edited 2007-07-31 09:48:54]

User currently offlineBoeingfixer From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 525 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3740 times:

Quoting Jhooper (Reply 15):
Quoting L-188 (Reply 14):
Pretty much the same story here north of the border in the US



Quoting Jhooper (Reply 15):
The U.S. is south of the Canadian border

The largest State in the union happens to be north of the major part of Canada and happens to be where L-188 resides.

Cheers,

John



Cheers, John YYC
User currently offlineAirfoilsguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3737 times:

Wasn't there a biz jet that collided with a glider and subsequently lost all coms. The glider ripped the nose off the jet. All persons involved miraculously survived.

User currently offlineBond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5343 posts, RR: 8
Reply 21, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3730 times:

Quoting SilverComet (Reply 18):
I do not know whether the instructor tried tuning the alternator back on in flight, or if he ever realised he was running on battery for the last half hour, but what i do know is that my colleague got a thorough debriefing that day.

IMO it should have been the instructor that got the "thorough debriefing", not the student ... or it that who you meant?


jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlineSpruit From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2005, 375 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3712 times:

Quoting SilverComet (Reply 18):
I do not know whether the instructor tried tuning the alternator back on in flight, or if he ever realised he was running on battery for the last half hour,

Interesting comment this one!

Quoting Bond007 (Reply 21):
IMO it should have been the instructor that got the "thorough debriefing", not the student

thoroughly agree here, it's part of my FREDA check to ensure the Ammeters charging and not in the red so I would have thought it would have been the first thing he checked when it all went quiet!

Spru!



E=Mc2
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6199 posts, RR: 12
Reply 23, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3562 times:

Quoting Boeingfixer (Reply 19):
The largest State in the union happens to be north of the major part of Canada and happens to be where L-188 resides.

oh, yea you're absolutely right. Sorry, I forgot about you guys up there  Smile



Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineSilverComet From Mauritius, joined exactly 7 years ago today! , 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (6 years 8 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 3547 times:

Quoting Bond007 (Reply 21):



Quoting Spruit (Reply 22):

You are probably right. I don't know what a FREDA check is (I'm not an instructor) and as I said I don't know what he actually did to recover electrics but he landed without the radio thats for sure.


25 Spruit : Well, I'm not sure about anywhere else in the world but here in England! F = Fuel R = Radio E = Engine (Which Includes the Ammeter check) D = Directio
26 SailorOrion : Well, they might still find you with the primary radar. Thus, listen to VORs, NDBs and stuff (if you get a transmission there), and continue as assig
27 Post contains images Starlionblue : Yeah but don't forget to keep trying to call ATC so that they can narrow down the search area. BTW I recall that mnemonic oft quoted here: Aviate, Na
28 Post contains links N231YE : This may help (for the American members at least). Scroll down to 4-3-13 Traffic Control Light Signals.
29 CoolGuy : Got it. So if the transponder and radio went out (and nothing else) then the protocol is to hope that ATC sees the aircraft on radar and continue as u
30 SlamClick : That is what smoke is for. Also the ELT has its own battery. Unless a flying saucer is sucking up all the battery power for miles around at some poin
31 Post contains images Starlionblue : I keep trying to tell that to people who are afraid of flying! "Don't worry, wings don't fall off. If they were to break they would meet at the top o
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