Missed Approach

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:

On 22 August 2019, a Boeing 737-800 positioning visually from downwind after accepting clearance to make an approach to and landing on runway 03L at Hyakuri instead lined up on temporarily closed runway 03R and did not commence a go around until around 100 feet agl after seeing a vehicle on the runway and the painted runway threshold identification. The Investigation concluded that the event was solely attributable to the individually poor performance of both the Captain and the First Officer, the latter in respect of a failure to monitor and correct the runway identification error made by the Captain.

On 6 June 2020, a Boeing 787-10 on approach at Abu Dhabi began a low go around from an RNAV(RNP) approach when it became obvious to the crew that the aircraft was far lower than it should have been but were unaware why this occurred until an ATC query led them to recognise that the wrong QNH had been set with recognition of the excessively low altitude delayed by haze limiting the PAPI range. The Investigation found that advice of MSAW activations which would have enabled the flight crew to recognise their error were not advised to them.

On 19 October 2015, an ATR 72-600 crew mishandled a landing at Ende, Indonesia, and a minor runway excursion occurred and pitch control authority was split due to simultaneous contrary inputs by both pilots. A go around and diversion direct to the next scheduled stop at Komodo was made without further event. The Investigation noted that the necessarily visual approach at Ende had been unstable with a nosewheel-first bounced touchdown followed by another bounced touchdown partially off-runway. The First Officer was found to have provided unannounced assistance to the Captain when a high rate of descent developed just prior to the flare. 

On 4 February 2020, an Airbus A350-900 initiated a go around from its destination approach at 1,400 feet aal following a predictive windshear alert unsupported by the prevailing environmental conditions but the First Officer mishandled it and the stop altitude was first exceeded and then flown though again in a descent before control as instructed was finally regained four minutes later. Conflict with another aircraft occurred during this period. The Investigation concluded the underlying cause of the upset was a lack of awareness of autopilot status by the First Officer followed by a significant delay before the Captain took over control.

On 14 October 2019, a Sikorsky S92A manoeuvring below low cloud in poor daylight visibility in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the intended private landing site flew north towards rising ground approximately ¾ mile east of it, coming within a recorded 28 feet above terrain near to occupied houses before making an emergency climb and over-torqing the engines followed by an unstable but successful second approach. The Investigation found relevant operator procedures absent or ineffective, an intention by the management pilot in command to reach the landing site despite conditions and uncertainty about the applicable regulatory context for the flight. 

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

Category: 

SKYbrary Partners:

Safety knowledge contributed by: