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Communication Failure while landing at KSEA.

Posted by on February 8, 2009 7 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags : ,

What happens if you lose radio communications while arriving at Seattle Int’l (SEA)?

That is the essence of the question asked recently by Michael, a private pilot working on his instrument rating.   Michael, you have just asked a very good question….and one that honestly doesn’t have a good answer.

To try and provide some understanding of what should a pilot do if faced with such a circumstance, I have produced a very short lost communications video tutorial.

I encourage you to watch, and comment with your suggestions and feedback.  What would you do?


  1. Michael J. on Feb 09, 2009

    Your reply was very thorough and it makes perfect sense. I might have lost a radio but my transponder is presumably still working unless I have some major electrical failure in which case I can forget about any IFR approach. And if my transponder is working the ATC is probably keeping up with my progress and clearing airspace around me. The question was of course highly hypothetical because in a GA aircraft I would stay away from any mega airport. So ultimately landing at some smaller airport (not even listed as my alternate) and not messing with the traffic over KSEA sounds like a prudent decision.

  2. Bob Gardner on Mar 15, 2009

    I thought that the answer, while complete, went beyond the question. If landing at SEA (something I never did as a Part 91 pilot but did many times under Part 135) and lost comms I would squawk 7600, turn east, and land at Auburn. Then I would call the SEA tower and explain what happened.

  3. Bob Gardner on Mar 15, 2009

    If it is not too late to add to my answer, KSEA is 400 feet higher than Auburn, and if KSEA had a 200-foot ceiling there would be a 600-foot ceiling at Auburn. I once lost receive capability taking off from Boeing Field, just 5 miles from KSEA, and after broadcasting in the blind my intentions to go out to LOFAL intersection and shoot the ILS back into BFI I did just that….and didn’t even get a “call the tower.”

  4. Vincent, from PlasticPilot.net on Mar 19, 2009

    Great video Paul, thank you for that, and for the creativity. This is may be slightly off-topic, but I always have a handheld radio with headseat adapter at hand…

  5. mayur on May 02, 2009

    hi paul. im flyg the airbus 320 for air india. now wht does one do if a com fail occurs imdtly aftr take off. now assuming im fully loaded and i cant climb to my FILED LEVEL .hwever as per icao, i need to climb as per flght planned route and level.now wht ?????

  6. Al Culp on Mar 14, 2010

    Surely someone on board has a cell phone that can be used to call ATC or FSS to relay intentions and get an ATC clearance.

  7. alphanovember on Dec 27, 2010

    Video does not work anymore.

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