Controller Directs Aircraft Via Cellphone Text Message


The pilot of a Piper Seneca with five aboard was last November instructed to land via text message. The report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch was published Aug. 6 detailing the complete electrical failure aboard the Seneca and the 39-year-old pilot’s reaction to fly clear of clouds after departing Kerry airport for a flight to Jersey, in the U.K. The pilot attempted to contact Kerry airport and air traffic control in Cork via cellphone. After making contact with Cork and then losing contact, he received a text message from a Cork controller advising him that air traffic control had him on radar and he was cleared to land at the airport. The aircraft landed safely at the airport after performing a fly-by to confirm wheels down. The report praised the efforts of the controller. “In this incident the positive and proactive initiative of the ATC controller, who, on realising that mobile audio communication from the pilot was intermittent, quickly switched to texting his instructions instead,” reported air accident investigator John Hughes.