Mar 21, 2009

Pull up and go around!

During flight simulator tests one of the maneuvers we fly is a so-called "aborted landing." That is, we must suddenly break off our landing attempt, usually from a low altitude, low airspeed configuration. Sometimes we'll already be flying with one engine shutdown. Other times an engine failure during the go around adds to the excitement.

When we initiate a Go Around from close to the runway the wheels will momentarily touch down. One of the key factors in the drill is to not raise the landing gear until we are safely established in a climb. Another important factor is to not become distracted from flying the aircraft. It's disorienting to feel the wheels rolling along the ground while your brain is still in "flying" mode.

Simulator instructors have various scenarios they throw at us to trigger this exercise. One of the favorites is to issue an ATC instruction like: "GooseAir One - vehicle on the runway - pull up and go around!" (*see note below)

In fact vehicles do from time-to-time invade our landing space, but this one is a little unusual:

Runway driving lesson causes near disaster

A passenger plane narrowly avoided a crash in the Philippines - after a man teaching his girlfriend to drive sped across an airport runway.

The Cebu Pacific plane, with 80 passengers aboard, briefly touched down at Legazpi airport, but took off again as the van crossed the runway.

"That van could have turned us into a fireball had I not successfully aborted landing," pilot Christopher Nowioki told the Philippine Star.

The newspaper says the culprit was actually the son of the airport manager Frisco Sto. Domingo who has now been sacked It's thought that the driver may have thought all the flights to the airport were completed for the day, and decided to use the runway to give his girlfriend a driving lesson. However, a recent increase in the number of scheduled flights, combined with poor visibility, caught him out.

* The phrase "Go around," is aviation jargon meaning historically, circle around the airport's traffic pattern and come back for another approach. In practice, it means, "Discontinue your approach and landing. Climb back up to a safe altitude because there's currently a problem ahead. Synonymous expressions often used are, "Pull Up," or the less frequent, "Abort."


Aviatrix said...

Friend had a student who had been taught "balked landing" and "aborted landing" but not "go around." When ATC told him to "pull up and go around" he went into a steep turn right towards the tower. Controllers were running for the stairs when the greasy underbelly of the treainer flashed by the windows and he completed his 180.

Anonymous said...

Then there's the probably apocryphal story:

Tower: xxx cleared to land runway 22
xxx: ... is xxx still clear to land, 'cause there's a truck on the runway
Tower: xxx go around!
xxx: well ok, but could you ask him to move over? I'm not sure there's room to get around him.
Tower: xxx go around go around go around!
xxx: on the go