back to article SMS used to land plane

In what could be a world first, an air-traffic controller (ATC) in Ireland has used text messaging to successfully bring home a stricken plane. According to a report by the Irish Times, the ATC relayed landing instructions to the pilot of an aircraft that lost all electrical power shortly after taking off from Kerry, southwest …


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  1. SImon Hobson

    So what ?

    What happened to the ATC units signalling lamps then - did they lose all electrical power as well ?

  2. Tim


    ...if the pilot's phone wasn't switched on, he wouldn't have had the power failure!

  3. Matthew Speed

    Sorry but this isn't the first

    My father, flying in Texas in Cessna 182 N96928, lost power in flight to his panel a couple months ago. He used his iPhone to contact everyone he could think of until he found someone who was then able to alert his destination airport of his situation. While his passenger (also a pilot) sent and read messages he successfully landed the plane without incident thanks to his text communication with people on the ground.

  4. paul


    Good thing they were not to far up. I cannot imagine most mobiles working at 30,000ft.

  5. dean mitchell

    Mobile phone on plane

    Isn't that illegal

  6. M A R Heald

    so why not use correct prodcedures ?

    There was no need to text the pilot to tell him that the wheels were down. The pilot can tell better from the cockpit than the ATC guy from his Ivory Tower. The correct drill to tell the pilot that he is cleared to land was evidently not followed so the ATC controller should have been reprimanded and told to wake his ideas up. There is no point or sense in having an international procedure for such minor emergencies and then doing something different. If the Aircraft landed safely - and the report indicates that it did, then the AAIB would not hae been involved and would not have made the reported quote. So I suspect that the story is the result of someone's over active imagination.

  7. JPQ

    @M A R Heald

    "There was no need to text the pilot to tell him that the wheels were down. The pilot can tell better from the cockpit than the ATC guy from his Ivory Tower."

    How? You know, with the wings and the nose cone in the way?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    All well and good, but...

    I can't see myself watching Karen Black & Co. SMS for 2 hours.

    Karen Black? Airport 77?

    Mine's the one with big inflatable chutes coming out of the pockets...

  9. Tim Bates

    Question the first....

    How did one get the other's mobile number (sounds like ATC made first contact to pilot)? Are these recorded on flight plans or something these days?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Is it me...

    Why not use the phone to talk to each other? Wouldn't that better and easier than texting?

    Mines the one with the Biggles goggles in the pocket?

  11. Cortland Richmond

    No electronics needed, actually

    There's a specified procedure for loss of radio communications. The pilot flies a radio-out pattern and the tower signals him with a red or green light. In this case, the pilot could have flown the pattern wheels up, gotten a green light, done a low pass to show the tower his wheel were up, gotten a red light, gone around and lowered the wheels, and on the green light after wheels were confirmed down, landed normally.

    I may be off on the details; I was in avionics for 15 years but I'm not a pilot.

  12. Jakub

    @M A R Heald

    Yes....the tower can see better...of course the tower can see better. Who can see if your car lights are on or the guy outside on the pavement as you go past?

    Also..during problems such as those described and with a mechanical gear lowering..i would say that even if he got three green gear lights on his panel then he'd be an idiot not to do a fly past for visual confirmation from tower.

    Read the article..then think carefully if you even know what youre talking about...THEN comment..otherwise you end up looking like a Heald.

  13. Barry Mahon

    ATC and TXT... RTFM....


    Not even the Reg is that trustworthy, certainly not the Irish Times... so read the whole story here.

    It was more complex than it seems, power out was intermittent, gear down was not obvious, weather was poor.....

    Bye, Barry

  14. Phil B

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "Why not use the phone to talk to each other? Wouldn't that be better and easier than texting?"

    Why???? Because the mobile voice communication was intermittant Dick Head!!!! Try reading the article properly first before commenting, then you might understand it.

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