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 29 January 2015, a Boeing 737-800 crew attempting to fly an NDB approach to Bergerac, with prior awareness that it would be necessary because of pre-notified ILS and DME unavailability, descended below 800 feet agl in IMC until an almost 1000 feet per minute descent when still over 8 nm from the runway threshold triggered an EGPWS ‘TERRAIN PULL UP’ warning and the simultaneous initiation of a go-around. The Investigation found that the PF First Officer was unfamiliar with NDB approaches but had not advised the Captain which resulted in confusion and loss of situational awareness by both pilots.

On 2 September 2016, an ATR72-600 cleared to join the ILS for runway 28 at Dublin continued 800 feet below cleared altitude triggering an ATC safe altitude alert which then led to a go around from around 1000 feet when still over 5nm from the landing runway threshold. The Investigation attributed the event broadly to the Captain’s inadequate familiarity with this EFIS-equipped variant of the type after considerable experience on other older analogue-instrumented variants, noting that although the operator had provided simulator differences training, the -600 was not classified by the certification authority as a type variant.

On 12 April 2019, a Boeing 717-200 commenced a go around at Strasbourg because the runway ahead was occupied by a departing Bombardier CRJ700 which subsequently, despite co-ordinated TCAS RAs, then came to within 50 feet vertically when only 740 metres apart laterally as the CRJ, whose crew did not see the 717, passed right to left in front of it. The Investigation attributed the conflict primarily to a series of flawed judgements by the TWR controller involved whilst also noting one absent and one inappropriate ATC procedure which respectively may have provided a context for the resultant risk.

On 27 February 2016, an Airbus A320 making an into-sun visual approach to Jaipur in hazy conditions lined up on a road parallel to the intended landing runway and continued descent until an EGPWS ‘TOO LOW TERRAIN’ Alert occurred at 200 feet agl upon which a go-around was initiated. The Investigation found that although the First Officer had gained visual reference with both road and runway at 500 feet agl, the Captain had seen only the road and continued asking the First Officer to continue descent towards it despite the First Officer’s attempts to alert him to his error.

On 16 January 2018, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 attempting to land at Tarbes was subject to gross mishandling by the crew and the approach became unstable. A subsequent low level go-around attempt was then made without setting sufficient thrust which resulted in sustained and close proximity to terrain at an airspeed close to stall entry before the required thrust was eventually applied. The Investigation was hindered by non-reporting of the event but was able to conclude that multiple pilot errors in a context of poor crew coordination during the approach had caused confusion when the go around was initiated.

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

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