What to do when approach is suddenly disconnected


First of all, I would like to thank the Controllers yesterday at MMUN for FNF, that was an amazing event - loved it!

Something happened (to some users including me) during approach - the approach frequency I was tuned in (north approach) got disconnected (perhaps network issue on his/her end) when I was on a 45 degree entry into the pattern to join the downwind.

I immediately joined the other frequency to radar contact and continued my approach (ie. I changed my heading to join the downwind).

I was wondering what might have been the right thing/ right etiquette in those rare cases:

  • keep my initial heading, as assigned by approach before they got disconnected (and in my case risking crossing the end of the departure area of the airport at FL100) while I wait for approach to clear me on a new heading
  • take the initiative to change my heading to remain on the approach pattern (that’s what I did, and I was not reported, but perhaps I should have been)

I wasn’t able to find similar topics on the forum, please move/merge if this has already been answered somewhere.

Thanks again to the IFATC team!

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If there was a controller change in progress message, I would keep the last heading and wait for a bit, otherwise, I would decide the best route myself as you did.
Some ATC experts might know better.

I’d say it depends on time. if it takes them long so that you nearly collide with other traffic. then turn, otherwise keep your heading(if controller change message has been given)
if not, you may turn heading you like

im not an atc expert but this is how I do it

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Thanks for the answers. Indeed if there had been a Controller change I would have stand by- in that specific case, it wasn’t announced.

Thank you for your contribution!

Based on what you said, what you did at Cancun yesterday is the right move if there was only one approach frequency active. Especially when there is an obvious sequence, it’s great etiquette to follow along in the line when the radar controller disconnects abruptly and doesn’t come back for some time.

Although doing this can technically warrant a report, there would be little chance of you being reported as doing this makes our job easier when we run into connection issues (we don’t have to re-do the entire line of arrivals when we reconnect)

But since you did say that there were two approach frequencies active, the south approach controller should have vectored you along anyways removing the need for your own intervention. However, if the south approach controller was obviously overloaded with planes, doing said above would be great.


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