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How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:21 pm

I've been flying quite a lot for several years now (mostly Swedish domestic flights), but have never experienced a close-ground aborted landing. How common is it?

Is it more common in the US due to heavy traffic?

I understand that some airports are more sensitive for cross winds, and that may cause more go-arounds?
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:28 pm

It is a very common occurence at busy airports, particularly peak times.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:35 pm

I presume you are asking about pilot initiated aborted landings. ATC aborts are referred to more commonly as 'Go Arounds." I don't think they are very common except in areas with heavy flight instruction traffic. TCAS equipped aircraft provide pilots a better perspective on in trail spacing and rate of closure, so it is easier to avoid getting too close. Some air traffic control towers vary with their requirements to call a 'Go Around".

Crosswinds may affect a pilot's decision to decide to go around, particularly if the winds are greater than expected, gusty or not expected.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:52 pm

I've only ever experienced one on a commercial flight, and that was in LAX in perfect weather.

From a pilot point of view flying a Cessna 172, I've only ever had to do a go around initiated by ATC once and that was because a 757's tail had not cleared the runway in time after it crossed my runway at BFI. Other than intentionally doing them in training, I've only ever done one because I botched the landing. A crosswind came and blew me too far off of the centerline for me to correct since it was a small runway.

Go arounds can be caused for many reasons. Very often they are because of weather. The winds and visibility may be very close to the limits of what is acceptable and pilots may want to attempt an approach, but may have to abort it if the characteristics get below their minimums. A common occurence is approach into fog since you have to see the ground at a certain altitude (depending on equipment being used) and if the pilots can't they have to abort the approach. Strong crosswinds can cause the same problem. Another cause which isn't as common are mechanical problems. A warning light may go off and cause the landing to be aborted. And finally there are problems daily with separation. Planes crossing runways too slowly, or not exiting fast enough when the planes are stacked up tightly. Furthermore planes sometimes make approaches to the wrong runway. All these can cause go arounds.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Sun Sep 10, 2006 11:12 pm

At the airport I work at I'll see one a month, and I'm only there 8 hours a day. It's funny though. You won't see any for a while, then you'll get two or three in a week.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Sun Sep 10, 2006 11:53 pm

Maybe 1 "go around" every couple of days.Runway 32L and 9R are bad
go around runways at ORD.The Heavy departures sometimes are slow to
start take off rolls,causing 9R traffic to go around.Also 32R and 27R are
problem go around runways.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Sun Sep 10, 2006 11:55 pm

At LHR it is very common at peak times, I have witnessed two in one day alone.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:23 am

It's not really that common at all; a busy airport like Heathrow or Gatwick will generally tend to have more than a quiet airport, but apart from congestion, weather is also a factor - all of the instances that I have experienced where a G/A has been required have been due to weather - two at Jersey (visibility issue) and one at Kagoshima, Japan (I think that was also visibility related).

Other factors could be a landing at a particularly difficult airport where the company's (or airport authority's) requirement are that you be at a particular height or in landing configuration by a certain point. Kai Tak was an example of that; if you went to the left of the runway on the turn you were supposed to go around; of course, that's now not an issue (mind you if you are on approach to Kai Tak now, you really should abort!), but there are other airports with similar requirements.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:50 pm

Ok, thanks everybody!
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:41 pm

For me they seem relatively common, or then I have just had some bad luck; within maybe 5 years I have experienced 2 at JFK (AF, AY), 2 at LGA (DL), and 1 at ARN (AY). Miles flown within that period...trips (not counting legs) flown within the same period; maybe around 30. I used to fly a lot more previously, and especially more in Europe, and Far East. Within that 10-15 years of time, I experienced only one go-around in Japan (I think it was in Sapporo). So, my conclusion; they are more common nowadays, and/or more common in the US. 17% of my trips (not individual flights) have included a go-around or aborted landing within the last 5 years! Can this be generalized to be a statistical fact to represent all the trips/flights? Yes, of course. Hah...
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:53 pm

A good friend has been an airline pilot for 7 years and has never had to abort for ATC or otherwise. I'm guessing that would be 3 or 4 thousand flights, so either he's lucky, or it's not very common.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Mon Sep 11, 2006 10:04 pm

I've only experienced one first-hand, a Delta flight that went around at the last minute on final to ATL. As a photographer, I've seen quite a few. My most recent was last Friday in Toronto. I had an Air Canada A320 on short final framed up nicely and I was waiting for it to get a bit closer before snapping the shutter when to my surprise I saw it bank hard to the right and climb out. My scanner was in the car so I didn't hear the reason, but I assume the go-around was initiated by ATC as Runway 23 was being heavily used at that time. I've seen quite a few aborted approaches at New York's JFK Airport - two in one day, in fact, plus a plane trying to land on the wrong runway. Most of the aborted landings I've seen were pilot-initiated vs. ATC-initiated. Good to see there are pilots out there who have the sense to abandon a poor approach.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:29 pm

Well, I haven't been on such plane, but I witnessed it from the ground twice. First, when I was a kid in 1979 and waiting my aunt to arrive from Baghdad, IA 727 aborted landing few times. Plane would almost touch the runway and take off again and during all that time (some 45 minutes), PA was calling Iraqi Airways representative.

Second time, back in 1990, I was spotting in Glyfada and Thai DC-10 landed on its third attempt.
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RE: How Common Are Aborted Landings?

Tue Sep 12, 2006 1:07 am

I guess you could call them "aborted landings" but what they really are "missed approaches" and "go arounds." A "missed approach" is initiated by the pilots when they feel something is not going well with the approach, and a "go around" is generally initiated by the air traffic controller when he/she feels it is unsafe to land. Often times this is when the pilots feel they are too high on the approach, or when the controllers see a potential conflict on the landing runway, such as an aircraft that may be rolling long and has yet to exit the runway. Another case where you will see a lot of pilot initiated go arounds are when there is a weather front coming through, and the winds are squirrely, and they may be experiencing a bit of wind shear, or if the visibility is at or near minimums, and the approach has to be abandoned because they can't see the runway.

This happens everyday almost everywhere, and isn't something to be alarmed about. To call it an "aborted landing" makes it sound as if something went horribly wrong, when in all likelyhood it was done out of an abundance of caution. Far better to "go around" than to wonder if there was enough concrete to put two landing aircraft on the same stretch of pavement, or to make a hot landing and risk an overrun.