I have a question to ask the seasoned aviators. After decades of discussion over the decision to go-around or not, why is a go-around being condemned?
At this moment, I have more questions to ask than comment on the crew decision. The crew experienced a failure on final approach and they flew the aircraft to land safely. Kudos to the crew.
With little information being available at this moment, the hearsay is that the aircraft experienced engine trouble on final approach. The estimated height would be between 2000′-1200′ AAL. The crew decided to carry out a go-around and followed the missed approach procedure. Thereafter, they seem to have sorted out issues and followed the flight path as shown below, finally they landed safely.
A number of senior pilots are commenting on the crew decision. At this moment, with so little information available, its highly speculative and irresponsible to comment on the crew action. The numerous discussions prompted me to question the so called industry experts.
The logic and reasoning behind the condemnation by one set of pilots is that the runway was straight ahead, the crew could have just gone ahead and landed!
While, sitting on the couch, it is easier said than done. The mindset that the runway is straight ahead, land is one of the reasons for the industrywide issue of unstabilised approach. As per Flight Safety Foundation, 97% of the unstabilised approach continue to land.
I have written a paper on cognitive lockup which explains the tendency of the crew to continue to land on an unstabilised approach, despite the option of a go-around.
The 1000′ in IMC or as decided by the regulator/company is a hard decision gate. The aircraft must be in stabilised conditions when passing through the gate on final approach. The stabilised approach criteria is not dependent on whether there is a failure on board or not. It is irrespective.
Qatar Airways crew decision
The crew of QR614, supposedly experienced engine trouble on final approach just above the 1000’AAL decision gate. There is no information on the exact sequence of events nor the nature and severity. However, if we assume that there was engine trouble, there would be a distraction to the crew and some amount of ECAM/Checklist handling required to be carried out.
The crew could not have flown past the decision gate in a stabilised condition. Therefore a go-around would be necessitated unless the company policy allows a stabilisation criteria of 500’AAL in VMC and the crew was VMC.
While it is not appropriate to comment on the crew decision at this moment, it is important to highlight the need to follow the stabilised approach criteria and the dangers if not followed.
The landing phased amounts to 65% of the aviation accidents and unstable approach amount to 14% of the accidents. A number of accidents have been attributed to distractions and the only defense is to follow the Standard Operating Procedure.
Therefore, failure or no-failure, one of the the criteria for a go-around should be the stabilisation criteria rather than the individual perception. This is not a distress situation where SOP’s can be altered to make a safe landing. The aircraft is certified to fly with one engine inoperative but crew actions must not be delayed too much.
During a missed approach, especially a long one and /or with a failure can take the attention off from the fuel on board. A procedure which takes too much time can adversely affect the endurance.
Secondly, the SQUAWK 7700 can help the crew to attract the attention of controllers so that the crew get adequate attention and help from the ground.