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Landing Aborts/go-arounds  
User currently offlineCBERFlyer From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 134 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3009 times:

Yesterday afternoon, I was aboard F9 flight 724, scheduled to arrive into DCA at 4:55 pm. During approach to DCA, a severe thunderstorm cell was just to the north and west of the airport. Needless to say, the ride was rather bumpy, while the plane maneuvered to the downriver approach into DCA. Watching out the window, I could tell we were way too high as we passed the Kennedy Center and the Washington Monument to make it down to the runway, and indeed the pilot executed a go-around.

We then circled back around over Alexandria and Arlington, the retry to river approach. Once again, the winds were apparently too rough, and the pilot executed a second aborted landing.

After this second attempt, the pilot addressed the passengers, and stated that the close-by thunderstorm was causing wind shear conditions and excessive tail winds for a safe landing. He also stated that his primary concern was the safety of the passengers, and that he would "not be pushed by ATC" to land in what in his opinion were unsafe conditions. He stated that we had plenty of fuel, and would circle again for another try, and divert if necessary.

We did indeed circle around over Alexandria and Arlington again for another try at the downriver approach, but for a third time we overflew the airport. The difference this time was that instead of banking to the right over the Alexandria side of the river, we turned towards the left over SW DC, then swung around 180 degrees at only 900 ft of altitude just north of the Woodrow Wilson (I-95/I-495) Bridge, and reapproached headed upriver instead. This time, we were able to land successfully, to clapping and cheering from the passengers.

My question: Is there any sort of "limit" on how many tries a pilot may take to attempt a landing in such conditions? Another passenger commented that the pilot must have been really "p*ssing off" ATC by repeatedly aborting and going around for retries. Is it fully in his/her judgement whether to continue making landing attempts, or to divert elsewhere?

21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineClipper002 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 679 posts, RR: 13
Reply 1, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3000 times:

No, there is no limit as to how many missed approaches you fly. He was probably getting a windshear detection on final and aborted the approach. Usually after the second failed attempt, the crew is running short on fuel and will divert. Your flight flight may have been tankering a little extra fuelwhich allowed a 3rd approach. Believe me, ATC does not break anyone's chops over missed approaches.

Rgds,
Ed



Ed
User currently offlineDartland From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 642 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 2951 times:
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Quoting Clipper002 (Reply 1):
No, there is no limit as to how many missed approaches you fly. He was probably getting a windshear detection on final and aborted the approach. Usually after the second failed attempt, the crew is running short on fuel and will divert. Your flight flight may have been tankering a little extra fuelwhich allowed a 3rd approach. Believe me, ATC does not break anyone's chops over missed approaches.

Correct me if I'm wrong (haha, like I even need to say that on A.net), but don't some airlines not allow more than 2 approaches? If you miss 2, you are forced to divert.

I believe the rationale is that difficult approaches are taxing on the pilots and the chance for a catastrophic error goes up significantly after each approach. So after 2 misses, they force the pilots to divert where conditions are likely to be better.


User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 23
Reply 3, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 2935 times:

Quoting Clipper002 (Reply 1):
Believe me, ATC does not break anyone's chops over missed approaches.

Glad to hear you say that, as it is so true especially when weather related. On the flip side of that I will say that we in ATC do ask why on earth a crew wants to fly into this stuff just to not have to go hold or divert, have seen pretty awful thunderstorms that people want to attempt the approach and I ask why??? Thank goodness those few that I have seen do this have used better judgement and aborted the approach anyway.



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offline73G From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 128 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2906 times:

Quoting CBERFlyer (Thread starter):
and that he would "not be pushed by ATC" to land in what in his opinion were unsafe conditions

Hmmm, that doesn't seem very realistic. It is solely the responsibility of the PIC to determine whether or not to continue an approach in adverse conditions. ATC's function is to provide current weather information and vectoring when possible. ATC in this case could care less if they wanted to shoot the approach 10 times or divert to IAD or BWI. The only limiting factor in determing the number of approaches an airplane can attempt is fuel. Typically a predetermined amount of fuel, sometimes referred to as a 'bingo fuel' will have been calculated and agreed upon by the captain and dispatcher. Once the fuel level reaches bingo, its time to divert to the alternate.


User currently offlineCBERFlyer From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 134 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2866 times:

Quoting 73G (Reply 4):
Hmmm, that doesn't seem very realistic.

Well, it is exactly what the pilot said.

I agree that ATC wouldn't "push" a pilot to land in potentially unsafe conditions... that would be contrary to all common sense. I imagine it is more of an airline imperative to avoid diversions.

Quoting Dartland (Reply 2):
Correct me if I'm wrong (haha, like I even need to say that on A.net)

Hahaha... ain't that the truth!  Smile


User currently offlineDualQual From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 732 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2863 times:

Quoting Dartland (Reply 2):
Correct me if I'm wrong (haha, like I even need to say that on A.net), but don't some airlines not allow more than 2 approaches? If you miss 2, you are forced to divert.

Nope, only limit is how much gas you have to keep trying before you have to divert. And you still have to arrive at your divert with proper reserves. 2 is generally the magic number because of how much gas you have, how far the alternate may be, and usually if you don't get in on the second shot things won't improve enough to make it worthwhile to try again (ceiling usually). In this case the factor was the wind. If it is a windshear event it is usually short lived making a couple extra approaches worthwhile. Also, since we are talking a localized event BWI and IAD would have made good alternates and are close. If it is really bad weather with low clouds you may have to go further (PHL, JFK) to find a suitable alternate which requires more fuel and fewer chances to try the approach.


User currently offlineGib From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 281 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2788 times:

Quoting Dartland (Reply 2):
Correct me if I'm wrong (haha, like I even need to say that on A.net)

I'll second CBERFlyer on that! As I said on another thread, if friggin' Chuck Yeager himself was stating fact on an a.net board, numerous arm chair aviation 'EXPERTS' would pick the post apart in a matter of minutes.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 8, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2770 times:

Quoting Gib (Reply 7):
Quoting Dartland (Reply 2):
Correct me if I'm wrong (haha, like I even need to say that on A.net)

I'll second CBERFlyer on that! As I said on another thread, if friggin' Chuck Yeager himself was stating fact on an a.net board, numerous arm chair aviation 'EXPERTS' would pick the post apart in a matter of minutes.

Well, Chuck Yeager is notorious for being an Airbus basher. Big grin


As has been said, ATC and pilots are pros, there is no pushing. It should also be noted that a missed approach is the safe option, not some sort of emergency manoeuver.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineCptSpeaking From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 639 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 2734 times:

Quoting Dartland (Reply 2):
I believe the rationale is that difficult approaches are taxing on the pilots and the chance for a catastrophic error goes up significantly after each approach. So after 2 misses, they force the pilots to divert where conditions are likely to be better.

I think you're right for instrument approaches in the soup, but in a situation like this where hard IMC isn't the limiting factor, but rather winds/wind shear, which can go or stay at any time, I wouldn't think they would be forced to divert. Yes, instrument approaches to minimums can be EXTREMELY stressfull, especially when you're at the end of a long day and just want to get down, but when you're on a visual approach and have plenty of fuel for a few more chances at a good, smooth, and safe approach and landing, I wouldn't divert after just 2 trys.

Your CptSpeaking  wave 



...and don't call me Shirley!!
User currently offlineAAden From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 834 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 2554 times:

on average does anyone know how many times a pilot will have to execute a go around in his or her career as an airline pilot?

User currently offlineRendezvous From New Zealand, joined May 2001, 515 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 2545 times:

AAden - probably many many times.

User currently offlineRalgha From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 1614 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2531 times:

Quoting Clipper002 (Reply 1):
Believe me, ATC does not break anyone's chops over missed approaches.

Unfortunately, that's not true, but it is quite rare. I've heard, first hand, a pilot get ripped apart by Norcal Approach for missing an approach (for real, not practice) into Napa County (pretty sure that's the airport). The pilot had botched the approach somehow, and elected to go missed rather than try to salvage a bad situation (good choice), and ATC proceeded to lay into him about going missed when he had stated that he was going to do a full stop landing. I felt like saying something, but I didn't.  sorry 

Quoting 73G (Reply 4):
ATC's function is to provide current weather information and vectoring when possible.

That's not ATC's function.

Quoting CBERFlyer (Reply 5):
I agree that ATC wouldn't "push" a pilot to land in potentially unsafe conditions... that would be contrary to all common sense.



Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 8):
As has been said, ATC and pilots are pros, there is no pushing.

Unfortunately also not true, especially on the pilot side. Most of the time whichever party is getting pushed doesn't give an inch though.



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User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1639 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks ago) and read 2504 times:

My own personal limit, in 46 years of flying, has been no more than two go-arounds or missed approaches at any one time. Something is very wrong if the second attempt at putting the wheels on the pavement goes haywire. The tendency to push a bad situation or bust minimums goes up geometrically on that third attempt.

Better to get out of Dodge to a hold or to the alternate.


User currently offlineFlyMatt2Bermud From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 563 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 2315 times:

Quoting CBERFlyer (Thread starter):
Is there any sort of "limit" on how many tries a pilot may take to attempt a landing in such conditions?

As stated, there is no limit unless an air carrier has a specific guidelines or a pilot has his own limitations. I believe experience should drive the call. If you can plainly see the conditions contributing to your windshear are moving on through, you might loiter around a bit provided you haven't called BINGO. I am based in Bermuda, the closest alternate is 1:30 on a good day. We typically carry an hour of loiter fuel (on top of alternate and reserve) but I think I would just keep an eye on things instead of attempting approach after approach. Situational awareness is key here.

[Edited 2006-07-14 06:06:35]


"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward" Leonardo Da Vinci
User currently offlineTrojanAE From Lithuania, joined May 2006, 90 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2266 times:

Quoting Clipper002 (Reply 1):
Usually after the second failed attempt, the crew is running short on fuel and will divert.

Pardon my ignorance, but just to clarify, is there a set quantity of fuel for go-arounds? Because, surely, if there is enough fuel to power up, reach a safe altitude, and fly to an alternate, and perform a power-on approach there, there is plenty of fuel to perform more missed approaches? Additionally, how does a pilot decide when to hold and when to divert? Depending on the conditions preventing his landing? Thanks in advance!  wave 



"My soul is in the sky." -William Shakespeare
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 16, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2257 times:

Quoting TrojanAE (Reply 15):

Pardon my ignorance, but just to clarify, is there a set quantity of fuel for go-arounds? Because, surely, if there is enough fuel to power up, reach a safe altitude, and fly to an alternate, and perform a power-on approach there, there is plenty of fuel to perform more missed approaches?

Enough fuel is carried for 2-3 landing attempts at the destination, flying to an alternate after the attempts, and 2-3 landing attempts at an alternate. This varies depending on conditions and route. Then there is taxi fuel and final reserve so you are unlikely to run out of fuel while trying to land. It has happened in a couple of cases, but the blame has been placed firmly on the crew for not monitoring the fuel situation. I seem to recall a DC-8 in the Pacific Northwest and some non-US 767 (?) at JFK.

Quoting TrojanAE (Reply 15):
Additionally, how does a pilot decide when to hold and when to divert? Depending on the conditions preventing his landing?

Information is gathered from ATIS, ATC, dispatchers and own impressions to decide whether to hold and wait for better weather. Note that you are not allowed to paint yourself into a corner. That is, you MUST divert if you reach the point where you only have fuel for flying to the alternate and landing (with go-arounds) there. If the alternate is an hour away, you could theoretically loiter at the destination for that hour. But even if you "know" the weather is going to be fine in 20 minutes, you MUST divert.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2254 posts, RR: 16
Reply 17, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 2225 times:

Quoting CBERFlyer (Reply 5):
Well, it is exactly what the pilot said.

I'm sure it sounded good to the pax.

Quoting Ralgha (Reply 12):
and ATC proceeded to lay into him about going missed when he had stated that he was going to do a full stop landing.

If he stated he was making a full stop ldg he probably was just doing some instr. trg and this was to be the last of several apps. Afterall you don't fly from A to B and announce this will be a full stop ldg. When he missed that may have not only caught the controller off guard but possibly created a potential conflict. It's good you didn't say anything.



Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 16):
Enough fuel is carried for 2-3 landing attempts at the destination, flying to an alternate after the attempts, and 2-3 landing attempts at an alternate.

Let's just look at dom. requirements..fuel to dest. plus fuel to alt. plus 45 min.(let's not muddy the water with "in still air", taxi, etc blah, blah) Nowhere does it say enough fuel for 2 or 3 attempts..sorry.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 16):
That is, you MUST divert if you reach the point where you only have fuel for flying to the alternate and landing (with go-arounds) there.

That's not correct. That fuel is just the min. required fuel for the flight. I can waste it all at the dest if I choose. 99.9% of the time it would be prudent NOT to do this and go to your alt. but that's a decision I make along with dispatch. I can remember a situation where EWR was down to one runway(a disabled jet had closed the other one) and we had held 3 times enroute before getting close. About 100mi out we were slowed and eventually had to extend the slats and flaps increasing fuel burn. When we finally reached the terminal area I was told we were now no.18 or 20 for ldg. I'm thinking it will be at least 30 min. more and with any other glitches EWR has no rny so I make the prudent choice to go the alt. for fuel and return. A co. jet which was ahead of us elected to press on to the ldg. using his "alt" fuel and landed.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 18, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 2208 times:

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 17):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 16):
Enough fuel is carried for 2-3 landing attempts at the destination, flying to an alternate after the attempts, and 2-3 landing attempts at an alternate.

Let's just look at dom. requirements..fuel to dest. plus fuel to alt. plus 45 min.(let's not muddy the water with "in still air", taxi, etc blah, blah) Nowhere does it say enough fuel for 2 or 3 attempts..sorry.

Well, 45 mins is probably enough to get you to an alternate + try a few times. I was just trying to give an example. Thx for corrections.

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 17):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 16):
That is, you MUST divert if you reach the point where you only have fuel for flying to the alternate and landing (with go-arounds) there.

That's not correct. That fuel is just the min. required fuel for the flight. I can waste it all at the dest if I choose. 99.9% of the time it would be prudent NOT to do this and go to your alt. but that's a decision I make along with dispatch. I can remember a situation where EWR was down to one runway(a disabled jet had closed the other one) and we had held 3 times enroute before getting close. About 100mi out we were slowed and eventually had to extend the slats and flaps increasing fuel burn. When we finally reached the terminal area I was told we were now no.18 or 20 for ldg. I'm thinking it will be at least 30 min. more and with any other glitches EWR has no rny so I make the prudent choice to go the alt. for fuel and return. A co. jet which was ahead of us elected to press on to the ldg. using his "alt" fuel and landed.

Well, at EWR you have several alternates within 10 minutes of flight. What I meant was that you are not allowed to get yourself in a situation where you cannot divert. but I may be wrong.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineBellerophon From United Kingdom, joined May 2002, 583 posts, RR: 59
Reply 19, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 2182 times:

Starlionblue

...What I meant was that you are not allowed to get yourself in a situation where you cannot divert. but I may be wrong...

Sorry, but sadly you are, as CosmicCruiser has already posted.

Under JAR-OPS, under certain circumstances, it is quite legal to commit to a destination, and use all your alternate fuel in getting there.

Whether this is prudent is a command decision to be made on the day, having reviewed all the relevant circumstances.

In the vast majority of cases, it won't be.

However, diverting to an alternate does not guarantee an end to your fuel problems, and it is quite possible to end up in a worse situation than you were in at your destination!

Consider the case where the weather is deteriorating at your (single runway) alternate but improving at your (multi runway) destination.

It may be safer to burn your alternate fuel in the hold, in order to accept a lengthy traffic delay at your destination - where you know aircraft are getting in, and other runways are available - rather than diverting to your alternate, where the weather could drop below minimums whilst you are en-route, or a landing incident close the only runway.

No one dispenses with an alternate lightly, but sometimes, just sometimes; it may be the safer option.

Best regards

Bellerophon


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 20, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 2162 times:

Quoting Bellerophon (Reply 19):
Starlionblue

...What I meant was that you are not allowed to get yourself in a situation where you cannot divert. but I may be wrong...

Sorry, but sadly you are, as CosmicCruiser has already posted.

Under JAR-OPS, under certain circumstances, it is quite legal to commit to a destination, and use all your alternate fuel in getting there.

Whether this is prudent is a command decision to be made on the day, having reviewed all the relevant circumstances.

In the vast majority of cases, it won't be.

Wow. I stand corrected then. Thank you Bellerophon and CosmicCruiser.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineRalgha From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 1614 posts, RR: 6
Reply 21, posted (7 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 2121 times:

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 17):
If he stated he was making a full stop ldg he probably was just doing some instr. trg and this was to be the last of several apps. Afterall you don't fly from A to B and announce this will be a full stop ldg. When he missed that may have not only caught the controller off guard but possibly created a potential conflict. It's good you didn't say anything.

He wasn't training, and the controller probably asked him if it was going to be a full stop. Very common around here with GA airplanes, because the controllers don't know if they're going to want to practice or not. Pilots don't often volunteer the information, especially if they're not training.

Regardless of who said what about a full stop, the controller was way out of line given that it was an unplanned missed approach initiated because of an unsafe situation. If the missed approach caused a conflict, then ATC screwed up, not the pilot.

[Edited 2006-07-15 00:15:48]


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