Sunday, January 26, 2014
ATC Q & A
The following ATC questions and answers are from the podcast and website www.atccommunications.com This is a very informative web site and gives great insight into communicating with ATC, VFR and IFR. I am posting some VFR Q & A here. Check out Jeff Kanarish's web site for more info.
You are 10 miles outside of Class D airspace. You are planning to enter the airport traffic pattern for landing. You switch to the control tower’s frequency, but just as you are about to transmit, you hear the noise of an aircraft interior playing continuously through your aircraft’s speaker. It sounds like someone is holding down the transmit key of his microphone. You wait a minute, but the problem continues and there’s no way of knowing how long it is going to last. You really need to land at this airport, preferring not to divert elsewhere. What do you do?
You need to get in touch with Tower, but the tower frequency is jammed. The solution is to move to another ATC frequency that works and use the controller on the working frequency as a communication relay to the tower controller. The controller acting as a relay will most likely not offer instructions for landing at the airport. The relay controller will be able to contact the tower controller and get an alternate plan of communication established.
Who you contact to act as a relay depends on where you are flying. Most airport towers have two positions. The local controller mans the radio used to control traffic in the airport traffic pattern and traffic on the airport runways. Pilots refer to the local controller as “Tower.” The ground controller is the other primary position in the tower. Since the ground controller usually stands right next to the local controller in the tower, he makes a pretty good relay.
If Tower’s frequency is jammed, I suggest switching to Ground’s frequency and tell the controller there is a stuck mic on Tower’s frequency. Ask Ground what to do. All Ground needs to do to relay your problem to the local controller is turn towards the guy standing next to him and say, “Pilots are calling me with reports of a stuck mic on your frequency. What do you want me to tell them to do.”
The local controller will probably tell Ground to relay an alternate frequency pilots should use to contact Tower. Although they aren’t always published, most airport towers have a secondary frequency they can use when the primary goes down for any reason.
If you happen to be working in Class C airspace with an approach controller, when Tower’s frequency becomes jammed your best bet is to switch back to Approach Control. Ask the approach controller for the revised communication plan with Tower.
In all cases, I would recommend remaining clear of the airport traffic pattern until you are able to make contact with Tower on some frequency. Since many other pilots will likely be in the same situation, you can expect the airspace just outside of Class D to start filling up with airplanes awaiting contact with Tower. Clear for other traffic as you work your way through the problem. A jammed radio frequency is insignificant compared with a midair collision. Remember your priorities and you will be fine.