Commercial pilots do not often go around when an approach has gone bad. As a matter of fact about 97% of the time, pilots have tried to salvage a good landing out of a bad approach. From that segment of attempted landings out of bad approaches comes nearly all of the fatal commercial aviation landing disasters. At least that is what seven separate groups of commercial aviation safety researchers have discovered.
Those seven separate and independent research groups presented their papers at the recent Go Around Safety Forum, June 18, 2013 held at EuroControl Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The Go Around Safety Forum was organized by the European Advisory Committee and the International Advisory Committee of the Flight Safety Foundation and co-sponsored by the European Regions Airline Association and EuroControl. EuroControl is the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, with 39 member nations. See http://www.eurocontrol.int/ . After working on this joint EAC-IAC project for three years, which included international meetings and a great deal of correspondence, I am pleased to say that all of the formative work, persuading our safety community that we need to look deeper into the issue of go arounds has proven to be well worth the effort manifested today in this highly unique conference. The work of EAC. has been to look ahead and find new ways to dramatically improve commercial aviation safety.
All of the papers presented are now supported by EuroControl Skybrary, an on line reference web site open to all. See http://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Portal:Go-Around_Safety and http://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Portal:Go-Around_Safety_Forum_Presentations.
I would like to recommend the articles concerning flight crew Go Around Procedures Training to all commercial airline safety and training managers to determine how the syllabus at your organization compares. See http://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Go-around_Training
Author and member of European Advisory Committee (EAC) Captain Paul Miller with long time committee member Jean-Jacques Speyer VUB University and current EAC chairman and Eurocontrol Safety Manager Tzvetomir Blajev at the June 18, 2013 Go Around Safety Forum.
Independent Pilot Association representative Captain Cris Simmons (middle) with chairman of the International Advisory Committee Captain Bill Curtis (left) and Captain Martin Smith, PhD, aviation safety researcher, Presage Group (right).
When airlines write Go Around procedures and then train their flight crew members on how to use them, somehow a disconnect may be happening. What have here may be a failure to communicate. If only 3 out of 100 pilots is use the going around procedure when the approach goes wrong or as it is referred to in industry terms as “unstable,” then statistics show that in that pool of the 97% of pilots who try to land, virtually all of the landing mishaps occur that involve runway over runs, excursions off of the side of the runway, short landings into terrain and other structures occur.
In safety terms, this is an area where industry wide, a great improvement in safety can be achieved if flight crew members execute a go around 100% of the time out of an unstable approach and come back around. Why there is a large disparity between what is trained and what done by line pilots is up to each airline to determine and remedy. The Go Around Safety Forum was intended to bring the issue to the attention of the global commercial aviation community and in that regard it was a successful three year effort, capped off by the successful one day seminar. Now all of the papers, the data and discussion is available to all airlines and it now is up to the local safety managers at each airline to put this information to good use and improve safety.