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I know that go-arounds are pretty rare: somewhere around 2 per 1000 approaches. In large commercial aircraft the rate is probably even lower due to crew quality, instrumentation, conservative decisions etc.

But are there instances of multiple go-arounds having to be initiated by a flight crew on one flight? I'm just curious to hear of any such stories. Two GAs? Three GAs?

I suppose if the reason is Weather related or equipment related the chance of a multiple go around might exist?

A related question is after how many weather related go-arounds would the crew decide to divert to the alternate. Either by rule, company procedure or plain heuristics.

P.S. Let's restrict this to non-training flights by scheduled airlines.

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    $\begingroup$ If weather deteriorates below published minimums during the approach you are allowed to continue, but you would not be legal to perform subsequent approaches to the same minimum having never broken out. $\endgroup$ – Rhino Driver Aug 23 '15 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ @RhinoDriver, if the problem is wind rather than visibility it is quite possible. The wind can change rapidly and gusts are rather random, so when the first approach is foiled by too strong wind gust, the crew may try one or two more times before deciding to divert. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Aug 23 '15 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ I believe I've seen some incident on AvHerald where plane went around, diverted and went around at least once at the diversion field too. I don't remember what the incident was to find it now. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Aug 23 '15 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ Just this week there was a flight that had 6 go-arounds avherald.com/h?article=48b217ed&opt=0 $\endgroup$ – Hugh Aug 23 '15 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ If the pilots here had decided to try only 2 times and not 3 times, the lifes would have been saved: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manx2_Flight_7100 (Now I don't want to be iffy, just to refer to this plane disaster where multiple approaches was likely an important factor.) $\endgroup$ – yo' Aug 24 '15 at 8:29
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None of four airlines I worked for (two commuters, two Part 121) had specific guidance as to the max number of go-arounds. However, as mentioned in the other answers, 2 or 3 was believed to be a good rule.

The only time I did multiple go-arounds, all missed approaches, was trying to get into Pullman, WA during a snowstorm in the late 1980s in an SA-227 Metroliner. I tried the VOR approach 3 times. Each time when we got down to the MDA, we did not have the forward visibility to descend further. Each of the 3 times the station personnel saw us pass over, and each time passengers looking out the windows saw the runway below us when we were overhead. That, of course, resulted in our being criticized when we arrived at our alternate by some passengers for not having landed at Pullman. I had explained en route to the alternate the problem with forward visibility, but when you've disrupted people's travel plans, they don't want to listen.

I briefly considered the feasibility, when we were over the runway, of entering a tight left turn to see if I could keep the runway in sight, but I rejected that. And, yes, I considered descending below the MDA before catching sight of the runway. That would have been doable as I was very familiar with the airport and knew that the gently rolling fields around the airport topped out well below the MDA.

The problem was that with all the snow on the ground and the snow in the air, we couldn't determine our altitude above the ground visually until we were actually over the runway. The fields around the airport had no trees, they were wheat fields in season. Even if I had chosen to bust the MDA, I still would have been too high for any kind of a normal landing when I caught sight of the runway end. If getting down was an emergency, we could have done it. It wasn't technically legal, but you could go into beta with the props and really drop out of the sky, then as you flared come out of beta. But it wasn't an emergency, so we went to our alternate, which was actually our next stop anyway, so all of the passengers weren't unhappy.

The advantage of multiple approaches is that conditions might get better while you're doing them, and you can get in. The disadvantage is that the nervous energy you're expending is telling.

Our SA-227s had no-autopilots, no radar altimeters, and, of course, no GPS. I imagine that these days that airport has one or more GPS approaches that would make landing in those conditions a piece of cake.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks Terry! Would love your comments on the 7 Go Arounds recent incident posted on this thread.avherald.com/h?article=48b217ed&opt=0 $\endgroup$ – curious_cat Aug 23 '15 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ @curious_cat Discussions live in Aviation Chat, not in the comments sections of answers. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Aug 23 '15 at 8:11
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks Terry, always a pleasure to read your contributions to this site. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Aug 23 '15 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like a case of "Thank God such a sensible pilot was in charge!" $\endgroup$ – Fattie Aug 24 '15 at 12:19
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Multiple go-arounds are pretty rare, as already stated. However they do happen.

I think this takes the cake in go arounds.

In this case, the pilots of Boeing 737-800 (VT-JFA), flight 9W 555 from Doha to Kochi tried to land (and failed) for six times in two different airports (Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram) before finally landing in Thiruvananthapuram on the seventh attempt.

According to reports

Despite the pilot having listed Bengaluru airport as the alternate airport to land, he instead chose to head for Thiruvanathapuram where he again made a “go-around” thrice over that airport which was also facing bad weather. Finally, left with not much of fuel, the pilot declared a fuel emergency and landed the aircraft at the airport there.

The flight was diverted from Kochi (after three landing attempts) due to bad weather. Reportedly, the flight has a reserve fuel of only 270kg (of the minimum requirement of 1500kg) at that point. Both the pilots ended up suspend by the regulatory authorities.

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    $\begingroup$ avherald.com/h?article=48b217ed&opt=0 <-- better link on this incident, and yes, I suspect this take the cake on go-arounds! $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Aug 23 '15 at 3:44
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    $\begingroup$ @UnrecognizedFallingObject Wow. Just wow. That's pretty crazy. Is that the equivalent of a plane flying on fumes? It says they had 250 kg fuel left on landing. This could have ended a lot worse. $\endgroup$ – curious_cat Aug 23 '15 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ @curious-cat Yeah, it was pretty close to being the next Avianca 52. Waaaay too close, if you ask me. They should have realized "hey, this choice of alternate sucks, lets try a different 'drome" when they had to do the first go-around at their chosen alternate. $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Aug 23 '15 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ What did the investigation said ? $\endgroup$ – Antzi Aug 23 '15 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Antzi The incident happened on August 18th 2015; the investigation is almost certainly ongoing. $\endgroup$ – Dan Neely Aug 23 '15 at 16:02
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Yes an aircraft occasionally perform multiple go-arounds. Sometimes weather(windshear the most common culprit) to ATC trying to squeeze out another departure or getting too close to the aircraft in front, necessitating a go around. General rule for multiple approaches, would be 2 or 3 before diverting to an alternate. A problem if you try to shoot too many approaches, is you start getting anxious and have a "get there-its" where you get so focused on getting on the ground you end up causing a major accident.

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I once had a flight in region NSW (Australia) in bad weather. We had 3 go arounds at destination, then diverted to another, 2 go arounds then diverted again, 2 more go arounds and eventually went back to original airport and landed first attempt. We were very late and they had to get another plane to take us on to sydney... long time ago though

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    $\begingroup$ which kind of flight was it? scheduled commercial? $\endgroup$ – Federico Aug 24 '15 at 12:45
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I flew American Airlines to Narita Japan on February 19, 2017. As we approached Narita on February 20, we were informed by the pilot to expect a bumpy landing. Our scheduled arrival was for 16:50. After 4 failed attempts at Narita, the pilot diverted the flight for Haneda where he failed the 5th landing. Finally, on the 6th try, he was able to get the plane on the ground safely at 19:00. Needless to say, that was a relief.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome and thanks for the personal experience! Can you provide the flight number? I'm sure there are many nerds, erm, aficionados here who would love to look at the details. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan May 30 at 14:21
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I live right next to BOS Logan Airport. On August 19, 2017, flight FX3719/FDX3719 attempting to land in fog, tried to land on Runway 15R twice. As soon as he was about 100 ft, the fog closed in to zero visibility and that's when he executed the go-around twice. I saved an image of the flightpath through a website I won't name here. After the double go-around he then landed without incident on runway 4R. This all took place just after 7:00 PM EST with a recorded landing time of 7:32 PM EST. I see occasional go-around's at Logan, but this was the first double one I've seen.

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