Why and when pilots decide to do go-around?
After Storm Ciara brought windy weather to Europe, several videos circled the internet showcasing some hold-on-to-your-seats type of landing, with some flight crews deciding that it is not going to work out and engaging what is called a go-around. The procedure, while fairly uncommon, is still used in practice whenever a landing attempt can potentially go wrong for one reason or another.
While to the naked, non-aviator, eye it might look like a dangerous and adrenaline-inducing procedure, the number one goal of a go-around is to actually ensure the safety of everyone on board.
So, why and how are go-arounds done?
Breaking down the reasons for a go-around
Primarily, there are a few reasons why a go-around is engaged by the pilots:
The number one and the most common reason is the weather, according to Flight Safety Foundation, which released a toolkit named Approach and Landing Accident Reduction, designed to reduce the number of various incidents during landing and take-off procedures.
Weather conditions, including visibility, wind gusts and speed, are under close scrutiny during landings, especially if flights are conducted in storm-affected areas. For example, if the wind speeds during approach are too high, pilots will decide to go-around, making sure that the safety of every passenger on board is ensured.
2. Coming in too hot
Coming in too hot could be described as the situation in which flight crew has failed to properly stabilize the aircraft prior to the approach. The toolkit by Flight Safety Foundation indicates that if a landing is conducted by using instrument flight rules (IFR) under instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), meaning primarily relying on instruments on board to land the aircraft, such criteria, as the correct flight path, speed and a completed checklist, among others, need to be met by 1,000 feet above airport elevation. If a landing is conducted using visual flight rules (VFR) under visual meteorological conditions (VMC), the criteria are to be met by 500 feet above airport elevation.
“An approach that becomes unstabilized below 1,000 feet above airport elevation in IMC or below 500 feet above airport elevation in VMC requires an immediate go-around,” as outlined in the toolkit by Flight Safety Foundation.
3. Technical difficulties
However, the coming in too hot approach could also be a result of a technical problem, including such events as flaps not deploying properly or landing gear not lowering at the correct altitude. If any technical issues occur during the approach, the pilots are advised to engage a go-around and refer to their quick reference handbook (QRH) that has all the emergency checklists, which will help during such emergency situations.