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Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:52 am

Has anyone here ever completely lost communications while operating IFR? Any airplane. Any country. What did you do?

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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:06 am

Yes, but not for long. This is probably the stupidest lost comm story you'll ever hear. I was on a stage check focusing on en route IFR operations. It was night and we were flying from ASH to BDL in a C-172R.

We were climbing out through a thin BKN layer at maybe 4000' and talking to Boston Center, when me and the instructor started to hear this static noise in our headsets. We could talk but not hear each other over it. It stopped and started several times, and this went on for 5 minutes. A few times we asked center if they could hear us and they told us to stop talking altogether and the noise continued, blocking their frequency. While it was on, sometimes I heard a click. After about five minutes that felt like a lot more than that, I realized what it was when I heard the click as my instructor moved his foot a little bit. The handheld mic was laying on the floor and he was stepping on it! He hung it up and that was the end of the problem! We were about ready to go through what we'd to when reaching BDL without radio. Fortunately I noticed that stupid mic on the floor. We could have found a hole and landed somewhere VFR had it been a real comm failure or we had not noticed the mic.

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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:21 am

At FL330 in cirrus. The last bonding strap to the tailcone on a DC-9 had broken and evidently the friction of the ice crystals over the tailcone caused static on VHF. As soon as we cleared the cloud deck comm was restored and the plane was repaired (after a little troubleshooting) at the next stop.

There had been a squeal similar to what you can sometimes get in St. Elmo's Fire.
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:53 am

I was once IFR with a CFI in a 182RG just taking a joy ride flight from Chicago to Waukegan. We were VFR on top, and the radio went silent for about two minutes. This was is very rare for Chicago airspace so we got suspicious. I made a call with no response and checked all the comm. buttons and switches. Somehow the comm. had been switched to comm two. The switch must have been bumped while one of us was fumbling with a chart or something. ATC could hear us but not the other way around. When we finally got in contact with control the responded in a not so happy tone, "Welcome back, I've already routed two 737's around you."

It's not really lost communication, but on my long solo x-country for my CPL, my intercom went out on a brand new 172 shortly after departure for my 2.5 hour return leg. The radios were fine but I couldn't hear myself talk. Just being able to hear myself read off checklist aloud help to keep from beginning to feel lonely on longer flights. That flight got real lonely, real fast.

[Edited 2004-01-19 01:22:55]
Right rudder....Right rudder...Come on, more right rudder....Right rudder......Aw forget it, I quit!!
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:56 am

Yup; vis was 2 and light drizzle; wx was 500 broken 900 overcast; everything checked out in the preflight and runup, but lost comm right after taking off.

Got the transciever up as soon as things settled down and flew on to my destination for breakfast. It was kind of a non event, save for some crappy vectors to final at my destination :p

RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 10:09 am

It actually happens to us quite frequently. Our normal flight profile takes us routinely to FL410 and higher. On the "R-Nav Direct" routings that we normally fly the controllers often simply forget about us and we fly out of their sectors without being given a handoff. Not a problem though, there is a section in Ac-U-Kwik (EVERY PILOT SHOULD CARRY A COPY IN THE COCKPIT! It's a great book, the guy who came up with the idea ought to be a millionaire.) which lists the every VOR and, among other things, show the appropriate high and low altitude ATC frequencies. After realizing that things are abnormally quiet (there's hardly ever much talking going on at FL390 and above) it only takes just a few seconds to find the closest VOR and look up the appropriate frequency. It's MUCH faster than pulling the charts and doing it that way.

CX Flyboy
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:33 am

It hapened to us once going into Heathrow. We were at about 1500ft on approach onto Runway27R VMC at 6:05am (Incredibly busy time) when we noticed all had gone quiet. We asked for a wind check several times with no reply. All 3 radios had instantaneously failed. Approaching 500ft the aircraft in front had still not cleared the runway so we went around, levelled at 1500ft and turned downwind, immediately facing a long stream of planes all lined up on the ILS. We kept trying the radios and formulated a plan to simply fly downwind and turn in after someone onto base, and let the controllers tell everyone around us to go-around. We already had 7600 on the transponder. Anyway, halfway through downwind, we picked up East Midlands (of all places) on 121.5 and they gave us an appropriate frequency. ATC took us on a long downwind then vectors of 27L with a follow-me car standing by just incase the failure happened again. The controllers were very professional and continue to be (in my mind) the best controllers in the world.
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Mon Jan 19, 2004 12:51 pm

Kansas City Center forgot to hand me off to Evansville approach once in actual. After about 5 minutes of nothing(not uncommon in the midwest) we used the nearest center feature on the trusty KLN-89 and got an appropriate freq. The controller even admitted to his error.
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Tue Jan 20, 2004 4:53 am

Flying a DC3 freighter through a line of weather (CMH-EWR),in the mid 90's, our radios got wet(poorly sealed nose), and our transmitter shorted out. We could hear center but they couldn't hear us, finally a sharp controller had us ident with the transponder if we understood him, and we proceeded to EWR in this fashion, identing in response to all queries. A follow me truck led us to parking after we cleared the runway at Newark. just another days work in the Douglas masterpiece.
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Wed Jan 21, 2004 5:39 am

Well, I had one flying VFR. It was my last solo x-country for my PPL. Funny thing was, some frequencies worked, such as the departure airport's UNICOM and a TWR frequency nearby. However, Salt Lake Center didn't work, nor did Great Falls Radio, so I simply called my CFII on the UNICOM and told him to open my flight plan via telephone. After returning, a mechanic took the plane for a ride, experienced the same problem and his only theory was that static electricity from a passing cell had affected it. It worked fine within the following days.

Any ideas?


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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Fri Jan 23, 2004 5:30 pm

I have heard that planes flying accross Africa often loose comm the Atc is usually on HF and it is so eratic that the crews give out position reports to each other.
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Fri Jan 23, 2004 6:12 pm

What is the procedure with the 7600 squawk code? Is it set as soon as you realise that you cannot communicate with the controller or is it set after checking all you radios?
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RE: Ever Lost Communication - IFR

Sat Jan 24, 2004 5:41 am

Setting the XPNDR on 7600 sends out a signal to ATC that you're unable to communicate, so I'd do it after checking all NAV/COM stuff about a hundred times...  Big grin

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