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What would ATC expect the pilot to do if, at the position marked below by the red X, the aircraft lost radio communication and was on a radar vector heading 250 degrees at/assigned 3000 msl and the pilot was told to expect the ILS approach to Runway 7 Right? Assume the IFR aircraft did not have DME, RNAV or GPS equipment and the weather was IMC.

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First, squawk 7600 to let ATC know you have lost two way radio communications and to clear traffic out of your way.

Then, from the AIM, Section 4. Two-way Radio Communication Failure

Section 6-4-1.c. includes:

1. General. Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, each pilot who has two-way radio communications failure when operating under IFR must comply with the rules of this section.

and

2. VFR conditions. If the failure occurs in VFR conditions, or if VFR conditions are encountered after the failure, each pilot must continue the flight under VFR and land as soon as practicable.

This is the preferable solution, but the question said to assume the conditions are IFR. Which leads to (displaying only applicable sections):

3. IFR conditions. If the failure occurs in IFR conditions, or if subparagraph 2 above cannot be complied with, each pilot must continue the flight according to the following:

(a) Route.
...
(2) If being radar vectored, by the direct route from the point of radio failure to the fix, route, or airway specified in the vector clearance;

(c) Leave clearance limit.

(1) When the clearance limit is a fix from which an approach begins, commence descent or descent and approach as close as possible to the expect further clearance time if one has been received, or if one has not been received, as close as possible to the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) as calculated from the filed or amended (with ATC) Estimated Time En Route (ETE).

So the expectation of ATC would be that the crew would fly outbound, make a right turn and intercept the localizer and fly the approach.

It would be a challenge to fly it without DME, but not impossible from the starting point. Radar or DME (or GPS) is needed to get to the IAF. If the pilot had a good estimate of his location when comm was lost, it would be to fly outbound for about 1 minute and then a right 180 deg turn to intercept the localizer. Once the glideslope is intercepted, being on GS plus altitude allows to to estimate passage of TIMSE and FUMBL. The rest of the approach can be timed.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry-Thanks for the response. Do you have any thoughts on when the pilot would start a base turn since there is no distance info available? Also, when should the pilot begin a descent from 3000 feet? Keep in mind that the aircraft could be equipped with only steam gauges (no map display, etc.), so the crew's situational awareness/relative position awareness would be limited. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Oct 26 '18 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @757toga Assuming the pilot is relatively aware of his position as you define it; based on current speed, I'd estimate the time to fly the 5 nm to put me out abeam EXERT (~ minute?) and then begin the right 180 to intercept the LOC. Once inbound I'd descend to 2600 (the only restriction beyond TIMSE.) Once you've intercepted the GS at 2600, you're at TIMSE and can then fly the ILS. One other thing that can help is if TCAS is functioning. Just follow the leader. Having lived in Redondo Beach some years ago I can tell you that there's a continuous flow of a/c on this approach. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Oct 26 '18 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ It used to be common and professionally expected (part of an SOP) that when flying IFR in IMC, that the crew would always remain aware of their present position. Since the advent of map displays/PFD's etc., this basic IFR skill/duty has fallen by the wayside. The crew in this example (from the question) should always be monitoring their position with one of their VOR rcvrs tuned to LAX. If lost comm occurs, de-tune the ILS freq (on the other radio), cross ref FIM VOR, for example, then they would know where they are on dwnwind. Turn base accordingly. Use caution with "RADAR required" IAPs. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Oct 26 '18 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @757toga Agreed. Knowing where you are is just part of the job. The only thing I'd say is that on most modern airliners you wouldn't need to detune the cross-side ILS as the ILS and VOR are separate radios. Most now have 2 multimode receivers (MMR) which have ILS/GPS and sometimes GLS, and 2 VOR/MB receivers. So the crew can have two VORs up as well as both ILS tuned. Dead reckoning and pilotage skills are fast becoming a lost art. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Oct 26 '18 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ @757toga Agreed. Knowing where you are is just part of the job. The only thing I'd say is that on most modern airliners you wouldn't need to detune the cross-side ILS as the ILS and VOR are separate radios. Most now have 2 multimode receivers (MMR) which have ILS/GPS and sometimes GLS, and 2 VOR/MB receivers. So the crew can have two VORs up as well as both ILS tuned. Dead reckoning and pilotage skills are fast becoming a lost art. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Oct 26 '18 at 22:16
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Squawk 7600 and fly the ILS RW 7 approach he was told to expect in a further clearance.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your feedback, but sometimes a simple question deserves a simple answer. Is the answer correct or not? I do agree with citing references however, and I will try to find one. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Oct 26 '18 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ Gerry beat me to it. I upvoted him, and would be happy to delete my answer to clean things up... $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Oct 26 '18 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ It's up to you. At the risk of sounding inconsistent, your answer might now be useful as a TLDR version of Gerry's! $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Oct 26 '18 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but what is TLDR? $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Oct 26 '18 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ @michaelhall - Thanks for the response. Do you have any thoughts on when the pilot would start a base turn since there is no distance info available? Also, when should the pilot begin a descent from 3000 feet? Keep in mind that the aircraft could be equipped with only steam gauges (no map display, etc.), so the crew's situational awareness/relative position awareness would be limited. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Oct 26 '18 at 15:45
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I'm not sure you could / would want to land here if you were in IMC. The MSA is 4200 ft and you are at 3000 ft. If you don't have any VFR charts on board, you don't know where those obstacles are. I would climb to 4200 so you are not going to hit anything and find somewhere else to land that's VMC.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's an excellent point about the MSA. But since the A/C is over the ocean and ATC has assigned 3000 msl (it's not uncommon to have a minimum vectoring altitude (MVA) below the MSA ), your solution would not be my first choice. The solution resides in compliance with 91.185. The problem is how to do that. Thanks $\endgroup$ – 757toga Oct 30 '18 at 23:28

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