I've heard that before landing an airliner, the pilots perform a mini-briefing to agree on what they will do and what they can do if something goes wrong during the approach and landing.

  • Is this true?

  • What is it called? (my best guess would be "approach briefing")

  • What elements does the briefing contain?

  • $\begingroup$ Just to let you know, I edited my answer to cover "what if something goes wrong?" $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's true. Usually called approach or arrival briefing

Details will vary according to aircraft and operator but a typical list is NATS:


ATIS2 notes, chart briefing point by point, date, frequencies, courses, minimums and missed approach procedures.

Terrain, minimum safety altitude, which route

Special notes for arrival, taxiing, likely gate for arrival?

I noticed that you specifically asked about something going wrong. The following assumes a serviceable aircraft.

According to operator, if the aircraft is not on a stabilised approach by 1,000 feet, a go around will be performed and the missed approach procedure (MAP) followed. The MAP is printed on the approach chart. The initial action is:

  • to get the aircraft safely climbing away (aviate)
  • to the altitude and heading defined in the MAP (navigate)
  • then call ATC to let them know (communicate).

    Aviate, navigate, communicate, always in that order.

A stabilised approach might differ between operators but is essentially.

The flight path is correct with only minor changes in pitch and heading needed to stay on it.

No more than 20 kts above the approach reference speed briefed as above.

Correctly configured for landing (flaps, slats, gear, spoilers armed, autobrake set etc)

Checklists completed

Rate of descent <= 1,000 fpm

Power setting is appropriate

There may be other special checks for some types of approaches which must have been briefed as above).

The MAP might be something like:

Maintain runway heading and climb to 1500' until reaching 4 DME. Turn right heading 250 degrees and climb to 5000' to join the hold at DISNEY

The MAP is unique for each approach so must be briefed in advance.

1 Notice to Airmen: Warn of recent changes, temporary restrictions, equipment malfunctions etc.

2 Automated Terminal Information Service: A continuous broadcast of airfield information such as weather, special precautions, runways in use etc.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ how about identifying navaids, setting comm freqs $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp I think I got those - chart briefing point by point and frequencies? $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ i get that, but the way its phrased it sounds like you're talking about it rather than actually doing it $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp Doesn't the checklist follow the briefing? $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:31

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