Go-around study reveals failure to check basic criteria

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French analysis of loss-of-control during go-around manoeuvres has shown up several areas of concern including a lack of basic monitoring of crucial flight parameters by pilots.

Investigation authority BEA carried out a series of tests in the wake of a number of incidents in which the crew had failed to keep an aircraft under control during a missed approach.

It concludes that pilots are vulnerable to "tunnelled" attention, and not keeping track of critical parameters, such as attitude, thrust level and airspeed.

BEA is recommending that training regimes place more emphasis on the importance of these fundamentals.

As well as the pressures of time and workload, the study highlighted the difficulties of applying crew resource management principles, particularly when pilots were surprised by an unexpected go-around scenario.

Lack of adequate monitoring, or too much focus on specific instruments, by the designated non-flying pilot, as well as difficulty reading or understanding the flight-mode annunciator, were also listed as contributors.

Simulations provide "inadequate representation", the study found, adding that scenarios used were "predictable". The BEA is also recommending that image recording be fitted to full-flight simulators to provide additional analysis capability during training.

Based on statistics gathered from Air France and major European airports, the study says, there are two to four go-arounds for every 1,000 flights. A medium-haul pilot will execute one missed approach per year, while the rate for long-haul pilots is once every five to 10 years.

Of 831 pilots surveyed for the study, drawn from 11 French and UK operators, more than half had performed fewer than nine go-arounds during their career.