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6 Common Mistakes Made During IFR Missed Approaches

This story was made in partnership with ATP Flight School. Check out the full series here. Ready to become a pilot? Get started with ATP here.

When was the last time you flew a missed approach?

1) Not Reading NOTAMs

NOTAMs are a big deal in the IFR world, especially if you're flying into an airport without ATC to back up your mistakes. Additions and changes are frequently made to missed approach procedures due to things like VORs being out of service, or minimums changing. Always check your NOTAMs.

2) Misreading The Procedure

There's a big difference between "climb 3,000, left turn direct XXXXX" and "climbing left turn to 3,000 direct XXXXX." Make sure you don't gloss over the specific verbiage of a missed approach procedure. Back yourself up by studying the graphic depictions.

3) Failing To Mentally Picture The Missed Approach

You can read words verbatim off a page all you want, but you should also have a visualization in your mind of what the missed approach will look and feel like. Are you going to climb, turn, etc? And in which direction?

4) Forgetting To Ask For An Alternative Missed Approach

If you need something a little more simple or get busy dealing with an issue, ask for an alternative missed approach procedure like "runway heading" if able.


5) Descending Below Minimums Due To Expectancy

Descending all the way to minimums is a rarity for most IFR pilots. Keep your eye pegged on the altitude and go missed right at your missed approach point. Pilots can get lulled into expectancy bias when they're so used to breaking out of the clouds.


6) Forgetting The Airplane's Missed Approach Procedure/Callouts

During your approach briefing, always plan an approach to missed until a landing is assured. Review the procedure and callouts to make sure you won't freeze and forget an important step.

Live from the Flight Deck

What are other mistakes you've seen during missed approaches? Tell us in the comments below.

Thinking about becoming a pilot? Get started with ATP Flight School, and find out how to start your aviation career here.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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