Take the 2-minute tour ×
Aviation Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for aircraft pilots, mechanics, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it an accepted practice to notify the tower of a radio failure by cell phone, and use the cell phone as a radio, or are there other ways of dealing with radio failure?

share|improve this question
    
I suspect this depends on the specifics of the situation, but you could certainly try to contact them by phone, but be prepared that they might not answer. If your intention is, for example, to land at a class D airport and you've not yet entered the airspace, you could fly over it until you get their attention (they'll shoot you with a light gun)... then land when they clear you via light signals. –  mah Feb 28 at 21:15
    
@mah Might want to spin your light signals comment into a full answer, I think that's what he's looking for. –  Jay Carr Feb 28 at 21:50

1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

As I pointed out in another answer of mine, it is not legal to use a cell phone in flight, and as another answer to the same question says, it really doesn't work very well anyway..

Now, if the pilot has an emergency, they can exercise the emergency authority of the PIC as allowed in 14 CFR 91.3(b) to go ahead and use the cell phone. If it is just the radio failure though, that isn't usually an emergency since there are other procedures in place for radio failures.

Radio Failure Procedures

AIM 6-4-1 contains the procedures to use in the event of a radio failure.

Basically, if the pilot is in visual conditions (VMC) and can remain that way, they should fly VFR (visually) and land as soon as practical. If they can't remain in VMC then there are a number of rules which spell out the route and altitude that they should fly, as well as when they should start an instrument approach.

Once they get to an airport they will still need to get clearance to land if it is a towered airport.

AIM 4-3-13 covers that, and basically the tower will communicate with the pilot via light gun signals:

light gun signal

share|improve this answer
1  
wow, didn't realize that light signals would trump cell phone... –  flyingfisch Feb 28 at 23:11
1  
@flyingfisch Yeah, there usually isn't really much communication needed once you are close to an airport. They need to clear you to land and clear you to taxi to the ramp and that's about it. Pretty simple and no need for a phone call. –  Lnafziger Feb 28 at 23:20
2  
...and with the noise in a light GA cockpit that light gun is going to be WAY easier to understand than a voice on the other end of a cell phone anyway, unless you have an audio panel in your plane that connects to your cell phone via bluetooth or a cable. If I take my headset off with the engine running in a Piper or Cessna there's no way I'm going to be able to carry on a phone conversation with someone :-) –  voretaq7 Mar 1 at 0:48
    
Technical nit: Actually, the pilot's authority under 14 CFR § 91.3(b) would not authorize the use of the cell phone, since it only allows deviation from 14 CFR § 91 and the cell phone restriction is 47 CFR § 22.925. The pilot-in-command (or person authorized by the PIC) does appear have the authority to use the phone in if in distress (that deliberately has the same meaning in radio-communications and aviation) under 47 CFR § 80.311, which although sub-sectioned under Maritime Service has apparently been carefully worded to apply to aircraft and other vehicles too. –  Kevin Cathcart May 10 at 23:19

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.