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Missed Approach

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Category: General General
Content source: SKYbrary About SKYbrary
Content control: EUROCONTROL EUROCONTROL

Description

When, for any reason, it is judged that an approach cannot be continued to a successful landing, a missed approach or go-around is flown.

Reasons for discontinuing an approach include the following:

  • The aircraft is not positioned so as to allow a controlled touch down within the designated runway touchdown zone with a consequent risk of aircraft damage with or without a Runway Excursion if the attempt is continued;
  • The runway is obstructed;
  • Landing clearance has not been received or is issued and later cancelled;
  • A go-around is being flown for training purposes with ATC approval.

Missed Approach Procedure

A missed approach procedure is the procedure to be followed if an approach cannot be continued. It specifies a point where the missed approach begins, and a point or an altitude/height where it ends. (ICAO Doc 8168: PANS-OPS)

A missed approach procedure is specified for all airfield and runway Precision Approach and Non-Precision Approach procedures. The missed approach procedure takes into account de-confliction from ground obstacles and from other air traffic flying instrument procedures in the airfield vicinity. Only one missed approach procedure is established for each instrument approach procedure.

A go-around from an instrument approach should follow the specified missed approach procedure unless otherwise instructed by air traffic control.

The missed approach should be initiated not lower than the DA/H in precision approach procedures, or at a specified point in non-precision approach procedures not lower than the MDA/H.

If a missed approach is initiated before arriving at the missed approach point (MAPt), it is important that the pilot proceeds to the MAPt (or to the middle marker fix or specified DME distance for precision approach procedures) and then follows the missed approach procedure in order to remain within the protected airspace. The MAPt may be overflown at an altitude/height greater than that required by the procedure; but in the case of a missed approach with a turn, the turn must not take place before the MAPt, unless otherwise specified in the procedure.

The MAPt in a procedure is defined by:

  • the point of intersection of an electronic glide path with the applicable DA/H in precision approaches; or,
  • a navigation facility, a fix, or a specified distance from the final approach fix in non-precision approaches.

A visual go around may be made after an unsuccessful visual approach.


A go-around is often unexpected and places special demands on the pilots, who may not often have an opportunity to practice this procedure. Some aspects of the go-around which deserve special study are:

Often, if an emergency or abnormal situation develops during the approach, the approach will be continued to land. However,in some cases, such as a configuration issue, performing a missed approach, completing the appropriate drills and checklists to prepare for a non-standard approach and then conducting a second approach to a landing is the more prudent course of action.

Accidents and Incidents

The following events occurred during missed approach or involved a missed approach:

  • A306 / B744, vicinity London Heathrow UK, 1996 (On 5 April 1996 a significant loss of separation occurred when a B744, taking off from runway 27R at London Heathrow came into conflict to the west of Heathrow Airport with an A306 which had carried out a missed approach from the parallel runway 27L. Both aircraft were following ATC instructions. Both aircraft received and correctly followed TCAS RAs, the B744 to descend and the A306 to adjust vertical speed, which were received at the same time as corrective ATC clearances.)
  • A306, East Midlands UK, 2011 (On 10 January 2011, an Air Atlanta Icelandic Airbus A300-600 on a scheduled cargo flight made a bounced touchdown at East Midlands and then attempted a go around involving retraction of the thrust reversers after selection out and before they had fully deployed. This prevented one engine from spooling up and, after a tail strike during rotation, the single engine go around was conducted with considerable difficulty at a climb rate only acceptable because of a lack of terrain challenges along the climb out track.)
  • A306, vicinity Nagoya Japan, 1994 (On 26 April 1994, the crew of an Airbus A300-600 lost control of their aircraft on final approach to Nagoya and the aircraft crashed within the airport perimeter. The Investigation found that an inadvertent mode selection error had triggered control difficulties which had been ultimately founded on an apparent lack understanding by both pilots of the full nature of the interaction between the systems controlling thrust and pitch on the aircraft type which were not typical of most other contemporary types. It was also concluded that the Captain's delay in taking control from the First Officer had exacerbated the situation.)
  • A318/B739, vicinity Amsterdam Netherlands, 2007 (On 6 December 2007 an Airbus A318 being operated by Air France on a scheduled passenger flight from Lyon to Amsterdam carried out missed approach from runway 18C at destination and lost separation in night VMC against a Boeing 737-900 being operated by KLM on a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to London Heathrow which had just departed from runway 24. The conflict was resolved by correct responses to the respective coordinated TCAS RAs after which the A318 passed close behind the 737. There were no abrupt manoeuvres and none of the 104 and 195 occupants respectively on board were injured.)
  • A319 / A320, Naha Okinawa Japan, 2012 (On 5 July 2012, an Airbus A319 entered its departure runway at Naha without clearance ahead of an A320 already cleared to land on the same runway. The A320 was sent around. The Investigation concluded that the A319 crew - three pilots including one with sole responsibility for radio communications and a commander supervising a trainee Captain occupying the left seat - had misunderstood their clearance and their incorrect readback had not been detected by the TWR controller. It was concluded that the controller's non-use of a headset had contributed to failure to detect the incorrect readback.)
  • A319, Luton UK, 2012 (On 14 February 2011, an Easyjet Airbus A319 being flown by a trainee Captain under supervision initiated a go around from below 50 feet agl after a previously stabilised approach at Luton and a very hard three point landing followed before the go around climb could be established. The investigation found that the Training Captain involved, although experienced, had only limited aircraft type experience and that, had he taken control before making a corrective sidestick input opposite to that of the trainee, it would have had the full instead of a summed effect and may have prevented hard runway contact.)
  • … further results


Related Articles

Further Reading

EUROCONTROL, European Regions Airline Association, and Flight Safety Foundation

Flight Safety Foundation

The Flight Safety Foundation ALAR Toolkit provides useful training information and guides to best practice. Copies of the FSF ALAR Toolkit may be ordered from the Flight Safety Foundation ALAR website Flight Data Services Case Studies

Go-Around Safety Forum

Airbus Descent Management Briefing Notes

EASA