Question: How often do airliners go around, and what’s the usual reason?
Answer: Go-arounds aren’t terribly common under Part 121 commercial operations, and most airline pilots go a year or more between wave-offs. The most frequent cause is a lack of separation between landing traffic at busy airports, usually when air traffic control mistakenly vectors a heavier, faster aircraft behind a lighter, slower one. Unstabilized approaches are another common reason, either the result of being “slam-dunked” by ATC or simply misjudging a visual approach.
It’s quite rare to go missed on account of poor weather, since Part 121 requires reported visibility to be above minimums before starting an approach. Because go-arounds are both uncommon and easy to botch, they are practiced frequently during recurrent simulator training, and it is now common to review go-around procedures during the approach briefing.
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This article was originally published in the December 2022/January 2023 Issue 933 of FLYING.