Hello everyone and welcome back to my aviation blog. Today I want to talk about going around after attempting an approach and landing. I chose this topic today after reading an article from “Boldmethod” about an accident that happened to a pilot who overran the runway in winter conditions. I want to talk about when to go around, when it’s too late to go around and I also want to state what every CFI has ever told me to all of you pilots out there: “THERE IS NO SHAME IN A GO AROUND”.
My last blog I talked about flying the winter weather and about icing. We know icing is an issue that can bring a plane down. Most pilots are going to be faced with landing on a runway that may not have good braking action more often than encountering icing. There are even more of us that will be faced with the decision to abandon an approach and landing before ever facing the aforementioned situations though.
So when should you go around? Well after over 620 hours flying I have learned to trust my gut instinct. If I don’t like what I see ill come around again. That is a tough decision. It’s obvious what needs to happen if an airplane taxi’s out onto the runway in front of you or if an animal is standing in the middle of the runway. It can be harder to tell if your too high or too low, especially if you haven’t flown in a while, or landing at an unfamiliar airport. I personally have a picture in my mind of how the approach should look and feel. I look at the height as well as my line up. I also pay attention to how the ride feels. Is there a lot of turbulence throwing me off, am I chasing the needles, or am I just plain unstable? An unstable approach is just as bad as an approach that isn’t lined up properly. A Fed Ex MD-11 crashed in Tokyo due to an unstable approach that lead to pilot induced oscillations once on the ground. The aircraft ended up flipping over onto it’s back and catching fire. Had the crew recognized that the approach was very unstable and did a go around, the accident likely would have never happened. As pilots, trust your instinct. The moral of the story is if it looks bad, don’t push a bad approach. Being too high or too low is just as bad. Being too low, well you risk hitting the ground or some other obstacle, being too high risks an overrun of the runway or a destabilized approach if attempt is made too late to reduce altitude. At the end of the day, instinct is the best thing that can tell you when to go around if it’s not obvious.
Now that winter is here we will get practiced up on flying in slippery conditions again. Braking action reports are great information to have but unfortunately small airports without control towers will most likely not have a braking action report. If the airport does have one then it will be a number between 0 and 6 with 0 meaning nil and 6 being perfect braking action. If the airport you are flying at has that available then it should be included in the ATIS report or available upon request from ATC. Remember ATC isn’t required to give you that information so it’s up to you to ask. Say though you land on a runway that either didn’t have a braking action report or the report was wrong and you find that you can’t stop or have little directional control, is it too late to go around? If the remaining runway is enough to take off then the answer is still NO. You can go around if you have enough runway remaining to get airborne again. yes I know it is a little scary to go around if your already on the ground or is it? The landing then turns into a touch and go which we have all done a lot of before during training so it should be routine.
So to wrap this up, the moral of the story here is that there is no shame in a go around. A very important key point in this is that unless your out of runway, or the aircraft isn’t flyable, it’s not too late to go around. The more you fly as a pilot, the better you will be at judging when to go around. The earlier you can decide may be best but it’s rarely too late. I suggest practicing the maneuver often and if your not sure of the proper procedure for your aircraft, refer to the pilot’s operating handbook or ask your local CFI to fly with you and help.
If you have a topic you would like me to cover or a comment about this blog feel free to drop me a line at the email below.
Thank you all for reading, until next time remember to keep the greasy side down and have fun!
Manager of Flight Operations
Winterset Aviation Services