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Why Calling 'Go-Around' Is An Action, Not A Decision Point

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Airlines and corporate flight departments around the world have strict procedures when a crewmember calls a go-around. Here's how you can use these same procedures in your everyday general aviation flying.

Multi-Crew Flight Deck: Seeing Something The Other Pilot Doesn't

In the airline world, when a crewmember calls a go-around, it's treated as an action, NOT a decision point. This is for one big reason. Maybe there's something the "pilot monitoring" sees that you don't. Every approach should be "flown to a go-around" until a landing assured. It's one of the reasons that Part 121 operations have such a good safety record.

Go-arounds are penalty-free. On the other hand, ignoring a crewmember's call for a go-around can lead to serious consequences, especially if there's an impending threat that caused the pilot monitoring to call "go-around." In the cases below, two separate pilots ignored go-around calls from their crewmembers. Give them a read, and below we'll discuss how this applies to general aviation flying.

Case 1: Unstable RNAV GPS Approach

The following NASA ASRS report was pulled from this past December. A dual ATP-rated flight crew flying a "medium transport" airliner experienced the following situation...

We were on approach to KMRY. There was broken cloud cover, winds out of the west, I believe 10SM visibility on the field. We set up and briefed the RNAV GPS Y approach, to be done as a CANPA (continuous angle of descent) approach. We were on the approach and given 5,000 feet. Then tower told us to turn 90 degrees north for another aircraft to enter ahead of us on approach. Then they gave us 180 degree turn back to the South. Then we were vectored onto the approach course and maintain 5,000 till established, cleared for the approach.

We rejoined the course tracking in, fully configured at approach speed. We were outside of a fix and I saw that we were high for the crossing, I pulled the power all the way back and descended as fast as I could at approach speed. At this point, we got a descent rate message. I added a little power back in and my First Officer said "go-around." We were out of the clouds, I had the field in sight, and I was almost back on the snowflake. I told him that I had this and we were continuing. By 1,000 feet we were on course, on speed, and at the normal descent rate. I continued the approach to a normal landing.

The approach changed and I did not rebrief my First Officer on what my plan was. Obviously, the CANPA approach was off the table. I should have rebriefed him that it was my intent to descend faster than normal to get back on the snowflake and crossing restrictions. He heard the descent rate and immediately called for a go-around which was the right thing to do. With the field in-sight, I should have told him that it was my intent to have the plane stable at the 1,000-foot mark, or my plan was to go-around at that point. I never told him that. Without re-briefing him, I should have just gone around.

Live from the Flight Deck

Case 2: Windshear Alert At 300 Feet AGL

A regional jet piloted by two ATP-rated pilots with a combined 22,500 flight hours experienced windshear on short-final. Here's what each pilot had to say in this NASA ASRS report.

Narrative 1: Pilot Flying (Captain)

Approaching in gusty wind conditions 320/19G21 knots RNAV/GPS approach in use. I was the Pilot Flying. Starting about 1,200 feet AGL, I selected autopilot OFF. I transitioned to VASI guidance. I was receiving consistent call outs from First Officer regarding airspeed fluctuations above and below target. At about 1,100 feet AGL, the amber windshear annunciated and I decided to continue the approach. At about 300 feet AGL, the RED windshear annunciated and First Officer called out "GO AROUND." I said, "no, I want to land!" The landing was very smooth with absolutely no side loads or control issues.

I wanted to land because I thought the airplane was handling well and that the warnings were related to horizontal wind shifts and not vertical shifts such as microbursts. Also, there were no airport warnings issued during the approach other than a few PIREPS of plus/minus changes in airspeed. First Officer was very supportive and professional during this event.

I am willing to completely cooperate with recommendations moving forward. I felt absolutely confident that this landing would be done safely considering the conditions at the time. I regret not executing a go-around for amber windshear alerts or escape for red windshear alert and further overriding the First Officer's call to go around. I have fully committed to respecting these procedures moving forward.


Narrative 2: Pilot Monitoring (First Officer)

While on approach, we received 2 windshear alerts. It was clear with winds from 320@17G27. We had briefed go around/escape procedures prior to the approach. Our Vapp speed was 150 and Vref 130. The first alert was a Master Caution Windshear alert at 1,100 feet AGL. We had a gain of 10 kts. The Captain was the Pilot Flying and immediately stated that he was not going around for that windshear caution. He would override the auto-throttles by bringing them to full idle, which I spoke up and mentioned that full idle wasn't a good idea since the engines weren't spooled and we would get behind the power curve.

At 1,000 feet we were stable. I began to call out airspeed trends and advised him that we were below the glide path indicated by the runway VASI (3 reds 1 white on the PAPI). He corrected and was back on the glide path. At 500 feet, we were stable, on speed, sinking 800 fpm. At 300 feet, we received a Red Master Windshear Warning. I immediately called for the go around and noticed an airspeed decrease of 20 kts. The Captain replied, "NO, NO, WE ARE LANDING!"

At that point, I realized his mind was made up and I went back to calling out airspeed and glide path deviations (3 reds, 1 white again). I also began telling him how to correct, "add power" etc. We landed... After parking the plane and while walking to catch the hotel van, the Captain asked me what I saw. I told him there was a 20kt airspeed loss and he was low. He said he was sorry, he should have gone around, but he just wanted to land and that he wouldn't ever do that again. Then he told me I did a good job on calling out deviations. A few minutes later he again apologized and said it was stupid of him and his mistake. He asked me more questions about the windshear, altitude, airspeed loss and then asked if I would be filing an ASAP. I responded "YES."

I should have called for a go around with the first Windshear Caution at 1,100 feet and then should have told Tower we were going around to force the go around when the Captain said he wouldn't be doing a missed for the caution. I should have forced the go around with the RED Master Windshear warning by telling Tower we were going around after I called for it, and was told no by the Captain. I didn't at that point by I felt he was going to land regardless, so I better call out deviations and corrections being so low to the ground. I also was taken aback by how adamant he was with telling me "NO."


There's A Reason Go-Arounds Are An Action, Not A Decision Point

In both cases, the pilot flying chose not to perform a go-around because they anticipated having the situation under control. Their focus was on managing a singular problem, like descent rate or airspeed control.

In either case, the pilot monitoring could have seen something that the pilot flying did not. Whether it had been traffic pulling onto the runway, misalignment of approach course indications, or something else, there are plenty of reasons that could have prompted a "go-around" call.

Fortunately, both of these cases without incident.


What About General Aviation Flying?

There's a lot that GA pilots can learn from these cases. While you may not always fly with strict profiles, callouts, and company procedures, you can use these examples as a guide for developing your own. Whether you're flying with your flight instructor or a pilot friend, there should be some basic briefing items you cover between the two of you.

Let's say you're flying in a Cessna 182 and your friend, a commercially rated pilot, sits in the right seat but has no experience in a 182. They're an experienced pilot, but just don't have any time in the airplane. Brief them on your planned takeoff, climb, approach, and landing speeds. That way, they have a solid idea of what to expect from the airplane. Also brief rejected takeoff and go-around criteria for traffic, windshear, instrumentation, and mechanical problems. It's the same thing professional flight crews do, and you'll be safer for doing it yourself.

Click here to learn what you should know about flying go-arounds.

Swayne Martin

When's the last time you had to perform a go-around? Tell us in the comments below.

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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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