View Full Version : NORDO into class D

C. Brenden
07-03-2016, 02:41 PM
Had a radio failure the other day in a twin I've been receiving some training in. We were VFR but I was under the hood flying an ILS approach to a class D controlled airport. When approach switched us over to tower freq we were unable to get the tower to respond to our calls. We were still hearing them broadcast to other aircraft - but they did not respond to us. My instructor advised to break off the approach, remove the hood, and we would trouble shoot the situation. We decided I would continue to fly the plane and he would try to get the radios working. We tried different freqs (approach and tower), different headsets and jacks, and even broadcast to see if any planes would respond. We then squawked 7600 and orbited north of the class d for a few minutes. We then entered the traffic pattern while looking for a light from the tower. None. On base we did hear tower issue us clearance to land. I did speak with the tower on the telephone afterwards. No problems but I did fill out a NASA report just in case.

07-04-2016, 07:35 AM
I lost comms in the flare once and wondered what to do if it happened outside of Delta. I figured that I would circle the tower right above Delta and see if I could spot the light gun.

...not sure if you could see anything from 2,600' though?

A cell phone call has worked for me in the past when I was flying an old Aeronca.

:confused: CJ

07-04-2016, 07:40 AM
Has anyone developed an app yet to look up Tower phone numbers? I have the local ones saved, but for that unforeseen situation in a place like, oh, Plymouth . . .

07-04-2016, 08:57 AM
During my flight training, we had the radio fail on a short cross country into a class D airport. We squawked 7600 and circled the tower. In a few minutes we got light signals to land. It was a good training experience.

07-04-2016, 03:57 PM
Has anyone developed an app yet to look up Tower phone numbers? I have the local ones saved, but for that unforeseen situation in a place like, oh, Plymouth . . .

There used to be a book published called The Cellular Pilot.
It had everything. Towers, TRACONs, Centers, ARINC, FSS direct, FBOs, you name it.
It was a great book but it is long out of print and I thought I remember talking to a guy at NBAA one year who told me they stopped producing it because the Feds didn't want the numbers publicly available.
Currently the best single place for that kind of info is the Ac-U-Kwik.

07-04-2016, 04:25 PM
When I was a student pilot, my Warrior developed a radio failure and I was stuck orbiting outside our Class D (about 10 miles out), trying to remember what I was supposed to do and squawking 7600. I landed at an airport outside the D, and called my instructor, who was very helpful. He gave me the tower phone number and said to call it, but not to tell it to anyone else.

I called them and they said they had been giving me light gun signals the whole time, but I never saw them. They told me to fly in and expect RWY 10 and look for the signals. I saw the green when I was about 3 miles out and landed without incident.

07-04-2016, 04:54 PM
91.129 covers that. For Class D operation -

(d) Communications failure. Each person who operates an aircraft in a Class D airspace area must maintain two-way radio communications with the ATC facility having jurisdiction over that area.

(1) If the aircraft radio fails in flight under IFR, the pilot must comply with §91.185 of the part.

(2) If the aircraft radio fails in flight under VFR, the pilot in command may operate that aircraft and land if—

(i) Weather conditions are at or above basic VFR weather minimums;

(ii) Visual contact with the tower is maintained; and

(iii) A clearance to land is received.

I would have expected a light signal though - or did they actually know that you could hear them?

Entering the Class D airspace in VFR weather with no communication is quite legal.

C. Brenden
07-04-2016, 08:32 PM
The tower knew our situation and was, I am sure, watching for us. I told them on the telephone that we were looking at the tower waiting for light signals. The tower said something like 'we missed you' with the light. I think they may not have been operating the light gun correctly.

08-20-2016, 06:43 AM
Have lost comms before in a local Class D area. I could receive, but not transmit, After squacking 7600, tower made an acknowledgment and asked if I could hear, to ident. Idented as requested and from that point, tower issued clearance and I acknowledged by identing.

08-20-2016, 08:57 AM
I recently had a COM issue while departing UAO a couple weeks ago. Once it was determined that I could not transmit, I squawked 7600.The UAO tower doesn't have radar capability, but I figured PDX TRACON would see it and give the tower a call with my position. By the time I entered downwind, I was able to communicate again and landed with no issues. I later called the tower to chat about the issue and they said TRACON did indeed call them and let them know of my track inbound. They said they had the light gun warmed up and ready to shoot me a clearance to land.
Being a flight instructor for years, you would think I would have seen a light gun before, but I haven't. So the next day I went up and asked the tower to shoot me all the colors while I was on downwind. It was surprisingly viewable during the daylight with bright sun shining but I had to be looking at the tower cab to see it. I imagine at night it would be very easy to see.
So my minor issue turned into a great learning opportunity :)

08-20-2016, 12:05 PM
I took off for a short flight to a Class D airport the other day and my radio failed so I couldn't contact the tower. I never got a light Sialkot, but it turns out the battery in the light gun died as they were sending me the first dial. I did squawk 7600, but got no signal. I ended up texting a friend to call on his radio to get the tower to let me in. I could receive, so I was able to follow their instructions and come in.

08-20-2016, 05:41 PM
In 1971 I had a radio fail in a C-150 while flying out of the Ft. Polk, LA flying club. We came back in and entered the downwind, then rocked the wings. The tower operator first gave us the Green light, then went out on the walkway of the cab and shot a green flare! Clearance to land received and the operator got to play with military flares!


08-21-2016, 09:56 AM
My Plane Power alternator failed a couple of years back as I was returning to Flagstaff from Eagle's Roost. My first indication was when I started to lose radio contact with other pilots; I had not noticed the charging indicator on my EFIS was positive instead of negative. I switched off everything except the ignitions (did not want to test the backup battery for ignition as long as it was still working on the main). I was near Sedona but chose not to divert there because of the many people who go there unfamiliar with the pattern; it's challenging enough to go there with a working radio. I was just about as close to KFLG but when I tried to turn things back on, I did not have enough to run the EFIS or radios, including transponder. I could see a plane on long downwind and I was on a short entry to a final, so I expedited my landing and got off the runway quickly (something an RV does well), and then called the tower to apologize. They had never even seen me taxi by.

Since that was the third PP alternator that failed on me, I bought a B&C with an external regulator that is on the cold side of the firewall. I also installed the idiot light right over the EFIS so I will not be surprised by a failed alternator again. And, because my decision to land at KFLG rather than divert to a nearby uncontrolled airport was driven by not wanting to switch to a backup ignition battery of unknown condition, it is now a part of my run-up checklist to test the backup. I also now pay much more attention to the engine reading on the EFIS, not just the EGTs for leaning. It's easy to get complacent and that was a great wake-up call.