We knew this is going to be a tight approach. Visibility was reported at 900 mts., with blowing snow, indefinite ceiling, reported at 200 ft. We did the full approach in visual conditions on the early morning sunrise, established on the localizer we entered the clouds after passing the outer marker. The whistling of the Pratt & Whitneys of the B-737 sounded distant. Landing checklist completed, the GPWS announced – “1000”, the adrenaline was starting to flow on us, I was pilot flying, my First Officer was diverting his scan between inside and outside. “500”…one hundred feet above minimums my FO announced – “approaching minimums”. My left finger is on the autopilot disconnect button, my muscles tense, all my concentration is on the flight instruments, no pilot in the world can relax at this moment. I try to avoid the temptation of looking outside, I must remain on flying on instruments. Minimums, negative contact!. Go-Around, flap 5! On my peripheral vision, on my side window, I catch a glimpse of passing runway lights during rapid acceleration.
Most professional pilots have been in this situation hundreds of times during their flying career, in real life or in the simulator, then, why the go-around maneuver is still one of the major causes of accidents during approach and landing? Are we mentally prepared for it?
Most of us can perform very well a go-around maneuver in the simulator or during a training flight, in the above situation there were not many options than executing a missed approach procedure, but the big threat comes especially when conditions are visual and a go-around is mandatory because, for example we are not stabilized on approach. The Federal Aviation administration states a mandatory go-around under the following conditions: ordered by ATC, runway hazards or incursions, overtaking another airplane, wind shear, wake turbulence, mechanical failure, unstabilized approach, or whenever the PIC feels he/she is not comfortable with the approach. https://www.faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/course_content.aspx?cID=34&sID=165 I can add to the above when at DA/DH – MDA , positive visual contact has not been established with the runway, approach light system or visual contact has been lost during a circling maneuver.
Therefore, the importance of being go-around prepared and go-around minded. Also, Flight Departments / Operators play an important role establishing a policy of no-blame, no fault on go-around procedures.
Be always ahead of the situation, the chain of events resulting in a go-around often starts at the top of descent (TOD). Maintain a strict adherence to the PF / PNF (Pilot Flying / Pilot Non-Flying) philosophy during a go-around. Follow SOP’s and standard call-outs.
Not only brief the missed approach procedure, be go-around prepared. Review the key points of the missed approach, the go-around procedures and task sharing during normal, abnormal or emergency conditions.
Brief your intentions, i.e. a second approach, a diversion. Confirm the minimum fuel. State any other aspect you consider important, plan ahead!
When flying with AP (Autopilot) engaged be always ready to take over and fly manually. Fly the final approach with one hand in the control wheel or side stick and the other in the thrust levers / power levers.
Adjust your seat armrest, it helps release stress than can be transmitted to the controls and gives you a better handling of the aircraft.
Once the PF has acquired the appropriate visual references for landing, the PNF must continue monitoring the flight instruments to announce with appropriate call outs any deviation of a normal flight parameter. If a go-around is initiated a positive an immediate transition to instrument flying is required, this part is especially critical because linear accelerations can cause body illusions that can lead to a dangerous situation if we try to follow our body sensations.
Once a go-around decision has been made, actions should not be delayed, a go-around decision can be taken until reverse thrust is applied. Reversing a go-around decision can be extremely hazardous, (e.g. First Officer initiating a go-around and Captain taking over the controls and trying to land the aircraft).
Review the go-around actions for your particular aircraft after finishing the briefing of the approach plate (e.g. go around attitude, go around power, flap 7, positive rate – gear up). And, consider every landing as a go-around.
“if we professional pilots share our experiences, we are making a safer aviation”