Monday, December 19, 2011

Lost Com Review

I have been reading and reviewing about flying IFR since I haven't put in many hours left seat in the last month. While reading my favorite subscriptions, IFR Refresher and Aviation Safety, I happened to log into the AOPA home page. I noticed one of the subjects is lost communication procedures, IFR Fix: A loss for words. Good reading and always a good review.

I also stumbled across a very good Internet read that provides a simple and easy to follow example of how to work through this process.

IFR Lost Comm Procedures
by Jason Schappert

It’s turbulent, getting dark, you know your approach will be down to minimums. Now to top it all off you haven’t heard anyone transmitting on the radio for a few minutes. You call up nonchalantly and ask for an altimeter setting, no response. You go back to your previous frequency and try to contact someone, anyone, to no avail.

Where do you go? When do you get there?

Flying IFR can be strenuous when everything is working, let alone when something goes wrong. Studies show people can remember things better when they are broken down into acronyms, as pilots acronyms are something we’ve learned to be very fond of. Our acronym for IFR lost comm’s is A-V-E-F M-E-A

Not to bad to remember Avenue F MEA. It’s much better then some of the other one’s I’ve seen. Lets take a closer look. There are two portions to our acronym the first part A-V-E-F (Avenue F) has to do with our route of flight.

You are to fly your route based on your last:
Assigned (Your last assigned heading)
Vectored (If nothing is assigned fly your last vector)
Expected (If no vector fly what was expected in your clearance)
Filed (Finally fly what you filed)

For altitude we use the MEA portion of our acronym. Fly the HIGHEST of the following.

Minimum en-route altitude
Expected altitude
Assigned altitude

Let’s apply this to a situation.Your clearance reads as follows:

“Cleared to the Ocala airport via V-441 to Gators then as filed. Climb and maintain 3,000 expect 6,000 10 minutes after departure.”

Shortly before takeoff the tower tells you “turn right heading 210 cleared for take off runway 14.”

You take off and enter IFR conditions at 500 feet. After 4 minutes of flying you experience communications failure, your altitude is 2,500 feet and heading is 210.

The MEA along our route is 5,000. What might you do in this situation?Let’s break down our acronym.

A – We were assigned heading 210 so we’ll continue to fly that
V – In our limited communication with the controller we never received radar vectors
E – Our clearance instructed us to fly V-441 to Gators VOR then as filed
F – After we fly what was expected, we’ll fly what we filed.

So we’ll continue to fly 210 until we intercept V-441 and proceed to Gators VOR. Upon reaching Gators we’ll continue as filed which in our case is direct Ocala.

What about our altitude? Remember we want to fly the highest of our

M – Minimum en-route altitude (5,000 in our case)
E – Expected (6,000 as given in our clearance)
A – Assigned – We were not assigned another altitude by another controller.

So after 10 minutes of flying “expect 6,000 10 minutes after departure” we will climb and maintain 6,000 feet with a heading of 210 until intercepting V-411 to Gators and then continue direct Ocala as filed.

If Ocala is IFR we will enter a hold over the Ocala VOR. This is why it is crucial to always
file to a fix rather than an airport. It works out in our case because Ocala has a VOR. But when flying to an airport with out a VOR file to a fix on the field this way you can hold until you reach your time of arrival you filed for.

We will hold over the Ocala VOR until we approach our ETA on our flight plan, from here we can commence our approach as prescribed on our approach plate.  Remember to squawk 7600!

Thanks to Jason Schappert for an easy to follow walk through on lost Coms. I found Jason's article on along with many other helpful tips and discussions for pilots!

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