The go-around manoeuvre offers an escape from unstable approaches, but all too often its mishandling has led to a crash. Could eye-scanning technology present a solution?
Go-arounds are supposed to be the safe route out of an approach that is not going as smoothly as it should. Accident statistics, however, reveal this ostensibly simple manoeuvre has often gone catastrophically wrong, whereas an unstable approach continued to landing frequently causes damage to the aircraft, but no fatalities.
High approach speed was cited after a Gulf Air A320 crashed off Bahrain on a flight from Cairo in 2000, killing all 143 on board
When - some five years ago - the Flight Safety Foundation initiated an industry campaign to reduce the causes of runway excursions and overruns, one of the facts established was that they frequently followed an unstable approach - usually too high or too fast, or both. An inescapable conclusion was that, if crews took note of the advice regarding unstable approaches, one of the potential effects would be more go-arounds. European airport statistics show that one or two go-arounds occur for every 1,000 approaches, which works out at about one go-around per year for short-haul pilots and one every five to 10 years for long-range crews.