A June forum organized by the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) and Eurocontrol looked at why pilots of transport-category aircraft regularly try to salvage unstable approaches when a go-around could significantly reduce aircraft accidents. The subject for discussion was to prove extremely topical in the light of the Asiana Airlines 214 accident in San Francisco on July 6. Initial investigations have indicated that a go-around might have prevented the fatal crash.
“The lack of a go-around decision is the leading risk factor in approach and landing accidents and is the primary cause of runway excursions during landing,” concluded the forum’s report. “Only 1.4 to 3 percent of unstable approaches lead to a go-around.”
According to the FSF and Eurocontrol, as many as one in 10 go-arounds themselves end in accidents, a fact the forum attributed to lack of pilot proficiency in go-around maneuvers. The question, of course, is why. Ed Pooley, a pilot and member of the FSF’s European Advisory Committee, looked at 66 go-around-induced accidents and found that failure to follow procedures commonly leads to go-around attempts, setting the stage for a go-around that proves to be as poorly performed as the unstable approach that preceded it.
Another important statistic that emerged from the forum was that runway-excursion accident numbers are higher than those for go-arounds, but accidents in the go-around phase of flight are much more likely to result in fatalities.