Audio Lesson #8: Situational Lost Communications

Mechanical or Situational Lost Comm? Check your switches.

You call Kansas City Center and there’s no reply. Now what? Either your radio has died; or, you have flown out of radio range; or, you have set your communication switches incorrectly. If the radio is working, and you cannot speak to the person on the ground that you were talking to earlier, you are in something I call Situational Lost Comm.

In this audio lesson, we’ll look at Situational Lost Comm. Specifically we’ll look at:

  • How do you know when you are in Situational Lost Comm.
  • What are your immediate actions when you first realize you’ve lost communication.
  • Some examples of how to handle Situational Lost Comm.
  • Through it all, I’ll remind you again and again to maintain aircraft control and continue to navigate.
  • No airplane ever crashed due to simple lost comm. You, the pilot have to neglect your primary flying duties to turn simple lost comm into a life-threatening situation, so don’t be neglectful.
  • Your priorities are always 1. Aviate. 2. Navigate. 3. Communicate.

I know a pilot who routinely lost radio comm because his aircraft radio was hard-wired to a low capacity battery. Got any stories or questions about lost comm? I’d love to hear them. Write or call me.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin May 8, 2011 at 3:46 am

Great description, Jeff. Most of my Lost Comms have been situational.


JeffKanarish May 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Yeah. Me too. Radios are pretty reliable. Me? Not so much.



Patrick July 6, 2011 at 12:48 am

Hi Jeff,
Great audio lesson, Situational loss comm. is should be taught in flight schools, Keep coming with these lessons…These are making all of us better aviators. Patrick Helicopter Pilot


JeffKanarish July 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Thanks Patrick. I’ve got something new coming out today, plus a serious game in the works that teaches situational awareness on the radios.



Wenqing Ma November 9, 2011 at 8:43 am

Hi Jeff,

I guess the situational loss of communication is ok for helicopter even if you couldn’t fix it(either hardware failure or by human mistake), but how about an airplane, he continues to fly, but he needs to land on the ground finally.



JeffKanarish November 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm


I think what you are asking is, how does a pilot without a working radio land at an airport, because a helicopter doesn’t need an airport to land. There a lot of airports where you don’t need a radio to land. There are many airports not controlled by ATC. Even at airports with an ATC tower, you can still receive communication from the ATC tower by light signals. Every airport tower has a powerful light gun that shines red, green or white light depending on what the tower controller chooses. Certain colors mean different things. For example, a steady green light from the tower means “Cleared to land.” You can read about these in the U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations. I also wrote short article about it in the “Answers to Questions in the Radar Contact Newsletter,” found at the Insider’s page of this website.

Good question. Thank you,



koong January 10, 2012 at 9:37 am

Dear sir
I am koong in Laos, I need to be an air traffic controller
Could you help me ,what can I do ? I need some information of Air traffic service, ( Vocabulary for ATC)
Because I will be an examination on the end of jan,2012
thank you in advance
best regard


JeffKanarish January 15, 2012 at 3:44 am

Hello Koong,

I sent a private message to your email address.



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