A Swiftair Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-202 was on approach to Sofia’s runway 27 still in two way communication contact with approach control being cleared to descend to 7000 feet when approach control could no longer hear the aircraft and requested the crew to squawk ident if they heard the transmission by approach control. The aircraft squawked ident, approach control thus continued to vector the aircraft for an ILS approach runway 27, requested the crew to squawk ident if they managed to lower their gear and subsequently cleared the flight to land on runway 27.
Tower in the meantime instructed all traffic to hold short of runway 27, the crew of one flight protesting stating they just saw the arriving aircraft go around but tower repeating instruction to hold short of the runway, the crew then advised they were monitoring the emergency frequency just in case.
The crew of the Swiftair went around, positioned for another ILS approach to runway 27 with approach control continuing to vector the aircraft and the crew continuing to “read back” by squawking ident and landed safely.
Have a listen to how this example of loss of communications (technical malfunction) was handled. As you know, communications is a vital aspect of aviation and this example shows how alternative methods can be used if the primary communications channel is not available.
Have you ever encountered a situation where the primary communications channel was not available? What did you do as an alternative? Besides squawking, what other methods are there to communicate to ATC? Discuss.