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Guest GalacticCowboy

Missed approaches - how common?

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Recently, on the first leg (of 5!) of my vacation we were coming into SLC. I could see sand blowing out pretty far over the lake and the approach was really bumpy. We couldn;t have been more than 50ft agl when the pilot throttled up and went around (it looked as though we were about to land on the threshhold area). He told us they had received a wind shear warning, and we circled around again.This got me wondering though. In msfs go-arounds are a way of life but how common is this in the real world, especially for commercial carriers? I had never been on a flight that missed an approach and neither has anyone I talked to. Thanks.Drew

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I've been on two flights that executed a missed. First was a B734 UA flight into KSFO, back in 1992. I'm not sure why the missed was executed on that occasion. Second was only several months ago, inbound to NZAA (Auckland, New Zealand) on a Qantas B744 from KLAX. On this second occasion the FO went to some effort to re-assure everyone that there wasn't a problem while we were on downwind for the 2nd try. We were not told why the missed was executed. Although this was not a full flaps landing (and since the time was before 5AM local, I assume that noise abatement procedures were in place at the airport- we appeared to be almost "gliding" into the airport); the amount of available thrust on these birds was *very* impressive on go-around.I'm a GA pilot doing my instrument rating, and while this doesn't fall within your question; when practicing approaches we consider the approach only partially executed if we don't do a "missed" and fly the published hold. However, we never do an intentional missed when in real IMC, and I'm sure that airliners never would because of the fuel and passenger factors involved.Bruce.

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A miss due to low weather should be a rare event on a commercial (part 121 or 135) flight. Commercial operators are not permitted to even begin the approach if the reported weather (ceiling and visibility) is below minimums for the approach in use.

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I've flown perhaps 40-50 comercial flights, and only once experienced a missed approach. I don't remember the a/c I was on. Flying in to Detroit Metropolitan (KDTW) maybe 25 years or so ago, we were *VERY* near touchdown when the engines spooled up and we executed a missed approach. After we were established at altitude, the pilot spoke to us to #1: confirm what we already knew about the missed; #2: reassure us that there were no problems with our a/c; #3: tell us that a "little ole Cessna" had "wandered" onto our assigned runway!Seemed mildly exciting at the time, but upon reflection, I'm glad the Cessna hadn't "wandered" onto the rw AFTER touchdown!

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Hi Drew,As another post mentioned, a missed approach due to weather would be unlikely since 121 and 135 operations cannot begin the approach if the conditions are below minimums (unless they have already crossed the final approach fix when the new weather conditions are reported). An aircraft might have to go missed if there is insufficient separation between it and the preceding aircraft, or if there is some sort of equipment abnormality, or if an aircraft cannot exit the runway in time.About 3 years ago I did a tour of Bay Approach in Oakland, prior to it be consolidated into the current NORCAL approach. During the tour, a controller announced over a loudspeaker something like "Missed approach at San Jose!" I gathered that this created extra workload for the other controllers as the room was filled with groans and sighs. I got the distinct impression that the controllers prided themselves on sequencing aircraft so that insufficient separation was seldom an issue.Several months ago I heard a SW flight declare a missed going into Oakland because they had a flap problem. They were vectored out of the way so they could run their check lists and work the problem.John

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I'd guess I've flown on over 200 commercial flights and never experienced a missed approach. But one day on a layover in Atlanta, I saw a Delta 767 do one, and about ten minutes later, an Air France 767 did the same. In both cases it seemed clear to me long before they got to the runway that they were too high to be able to land. If I recall correctly, the weather was clear that day. I've often wondered what circumstances could have caused not one but two heavies in such close proximity to come in so high that they'd have to go around. I mean, it's only the best pilots who land those planes, so it's not likely it was pilot error. I wondered at the time if something might have been amiss with the ILS system, but I still don't know if this makes sense.

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>I mean, it's only the best pilots who land those>planes, so it's not likely it was pilot error. I wouldn't be so sure of that point. Where I work, we have a couple of hotdog Captains and they've gone around more than a few times due to starting the descent too late and being way too fast or high inside the marker (beacon in Canada). As for the heavies you saw going around. It's most likely due to ATC allowing an aircraft to line up on the active awaiting TO clearance or for a landed aircraft to clear the runway. If the departing aircraft is delayed, ATC will call a 'go around'. Happens a lot here in CYYC.Cheers,JohnBoeing 727/737 & Lockheed C-130/L-100 Mechanichttp://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/ng_driver.jpg

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I've only ever had one missed approach on a commercial flight, but it was a very impressive one. Over 20 years ago we were on final to Gibralter, which was fun to start with, because in those days the Spanish didn't allow aircraft flying into Gib to enter Spanish airspace, so you had a really sharp left turn onto final at less than 1,000 feet. Then, we can't have been at much less than 100' above the water when he suddenly goosed it and started a go-around. I had a window seat, and was amazed to see a double line of cars crossing the runway under us as we climbed away. There's a tunnel under the runway these days, but back then there were gates like on a railway level crossing to block the main road where it ran across the peninsula and crossed the runway. We had been the second of two aircraft landing, and apparently the gate controller had forgotten about us and re-opened the gates after the first plane landed. Our pilot had been lined up and about to land when the traffic suddenly started driving across the runway in front of him. I bet that had a high 'pucker factor'!Richard

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A couple years ago someone had a scanner with the Seattle ATC online through one of those streaming sites. I used to listen to it as "background" sound. One afternoon an aircraft on final informed the tower that they weren't getting a green light on their nose gear. On very short final they pulled up and flew down the centerline before executing a missed approach. As they transitioned the airport, the tower controller informed them that the nose gear appeared to be fully down. They subsequently landed safely, but I'm sure there were some tense moments... :)

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