Why does the tower ask pilots what the reason is for a go-around? This seems to be standard for commercial flights.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I've never been asked for a reason for my go-arounds. I assume its because I'm in Cessna-172s, and sound like a low-hour, inexperienced pilot on the radio. (I go around at the slightest indication the approach is a little bit off.) $\endgroup$ – abelenky Jul 13 '15 at 15:53

Pilots are not required to give a reason for a go-around, just to say that they are going around. A go-around is a busy time for the pilot(s) of the aircraft - power, flaps, trim, must be set, gear raised in some cases. The pilot needs to aviate first.

The tower wants to know why the go-around was initiated by the pilot as it may be relevant for safety and/or operations. If the pilot is going around because of a botched approach then that won't impact other flights, however if there is a problem with the aircraft the tower can organize emergency resources. If the go-around is due to a situation on the ground then the tower can look to clear that up.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You'd think if there were an emergency situation then the pilot would feel duty-bound to report it regardless of being asked. But I guess it's better to be explicit and deliberate about this stuff. $\endgroup$ – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 13 '15 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ If there's an emergency the pilot may be too busy dealing with it to report it right away. The first priority is to maintain control of the aircraft. Once that's done the pilot will call ATC. $\endgroup$ – GdD Jul 14 '15 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ "The tower wants to know why the go-around was initiated by the pilot as it may be relevant for safety and/or operations. If the pilot is going around because of a botched approach then ..." ... what does the pilot say? "I botched the approach" ? :-) $\endgroup$ – summerrain Jan 2 '19 at 8:56

The reason 1 pilot goes around may also be the reason the next pilot goes around, The second pilot would like to know before hand whether the runway is safe to land on.

For example if it is wind related he can delay landing until it dies down.

If it is debris related then the tower can dispatch a cleaning crew.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ On the other hand if it is inside the cockpit, perhaps the crew could use some assistance like delay vectors to work checklists and the tower wants to know as soon as practical as well. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jul 13 '15 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ Are we assuming VFR here? It would be nice to know if the weather goes below minimums. It is against regulation to begin an approach when the weather is below minimums - not to mention the potential waste of gas on missed approach. $\endgroup$ – radarbob Jul 14 '15 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ I've only heard ATC ask IFR flights why they went around/missed, and I assumed it's because ATC may not be able to see the plane (or even the runway) in IMC, so they need to know if it was because of something that could affect following planes. For VFR flights, it's usually obvious why the plane went around, e.g. a student in the pattern is expected to go around now and then. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Jan 15 '19 at 17:38

The only reason for a go-around is that the pilot or ATC thinks that landing is not safe or possible for this approach.

When the pilot does that, they follow the 5 Ups memory aid (Power Up, Nose Up, Gear Up, Flaps Up, Speak Up). You can see that by the time a pilot is ready to inform ATC about go-around, he is already going around.

Commonly, when ATC requests a go-around, it is if there is an unsafe condition such as an aircraft, vehicle, or object on the runway.

When the pilot decides to go-around, it can be one of the following reasons:

  • the aircraft is not lined up
  • it is not configured properly for a safe landing
  • an aircraft, vehicle or other object has not cleared the runway
  • no landing clearance was received (at a towered field)
  • the landing gear is not properly extended
  • a dangerous meteorological condition is experienced on final approach (e.g., poor visibility, excessive cross-winds, windshear, etc.)
  • excessive energy (too high or too fast)
  • or any other unsafe condition is detected
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Student pilots often need to practice missed approach procedures, but in that situation the tower will have been informed of the student's intentions beforehand (probably before the student even took off), and it's wise for a student pilot to not be doing this kind of practice on the main runways of a class B or C airport. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jul 13 '15 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithS If a student pilot gets a chance to land at a Class B or C airport, ATC will not let them use the main highway anyway, for practicing go-arounds. Of course unless you say please. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Jul 13 '15 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ Most Bravo airports are too busy to accomodate student pilot practice to begin with. DFW's kind of persnickety about this; they're the busiest airport in the U.S. by aircraft takeoffs/landings, and they're not going to let some yahoo toodle around in a left-hand pattern tying up time on approach/tower frequencies (and the GA runway). That goes double when the winds aren't north/south and the entire airport runs on its two oblique runways; 13L/31R becomes the runway for the entire left half of the airport. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jul 13 '15 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ You want to practice approaches, there are 11 Class Ds in the Metroplex that can help you practice approach procedures with comms, and dozens of untowered strips to practice the cockpit procedure (power, pitch, flaps, gear) while only having to notify "traffic" of your missed approaches. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jul 13 '15 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ This is a good summary of the reasons for pilots deciding to go around, but I don't see where it addresses why the tower is asking for the reason. $\endgroup$ – fooot Jul 14 '15 at 16:45

Short answer: because first you're disrupting the traffic pattern (especially at larger airports that don't use a circular pattern and coordinate direct approaches instead) and the tower will want an explanation, and second because if there is a problem outside the cockpit causing you to execute the missed approach, other craft might have the same problem, and if the tower knows about it they can take steps to resolve it, or at least advise other incoming craft.

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    $\begingroup$ The tower does not need anything to cover their backsides. Going around is a standard fail-safe that they have to expect and have procedure to handle. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jul 13 '15 at 15:52

I've only got about 300 hours logged but I have not once been asked WHY I am going around. However if you "intend" to do a touch-and-go or an abort/go around you must inform them, because it's their job to know where every aircraft is going. I usually tell the tower before takeoff I'll be flying a "closed pattern" if just practicing TnGs. Makes it much easier for ATC. When I intend to stop, I will say landing "Full Stop" when turning final. But, as Farhan said, if anything is off on approach or you bounce on touchdown, miss the touchdown zone, wind starts kicking your ass or if ANYTHING isn't perfect, it's full throttle, flaps up once +ROC, and figure out what u did wrong. The tower can wait, they are all in there watching, laughing at your pathetic attempt anyway. If something is wrong, do insist on priority access! POC is in charge after all. My alternator 172SP died on climbout once and I didn't say a thing, just rushed to mid field and dove vertical out of downwind pattern, slipping the hell out of it to slow her down. Per protocol, I didn't say a word to ATC until I was clear of the runway. But always be nice to the ATC. Fantastic guys that would do ANYTHING to keep their pilots safe. The FAA/NTSB tho.... they are the best reason to keep your mouth shut unless you are out of options!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've got a few less hours than you and I've also never been asked why I've aborted my landing. I presume though that it's because there's generally been a healthy crosswind when I have. On an occasion where I was cleared for T&G and instead I came to a full stop (announced I would do that after I touched down when the landing felt like it could have been bad for my gear), the tower did ask why -- not that they were upset at my unscheduled change of plans, but to make sure there weren't any issues with the runway that would affect others. $\endgroup$ – mah Jul 14 '15 at 16:29

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