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If the choice to go around is always an option for the pilot as described in Do pilots need a clearance to go around?, is the heading to go around always well-known at every airport?

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    $\begingroup$ This can be overridden by controllers, here's a case where a Ukranian flight was slow to takeoff. The British Airways flight on short final had to go around. Ukraine was ordered to stop to protect BA's go-around path. But they disregarded and took off anyway, putting them in conflict. Quick action was called for. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 22 '17 at 17:40
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Yes. Every instrument approach procedure has a specified missed approach segment. The missed approach will be described in terms of route to fly (heading), altitude, speed and crossing restrictions, terrain clearance and any other required information.

Before approaching an airport, the pilots will conduct a briefing that includes going through the missed approach procedure, so that they are 100% sure what to do if they need to perform a missed approach.

From an air traffic control point of view, we will make sure that there is no other traffic in the missed approach area when an aircraft is conducting an approach. That way there will be no loss of separation if an aircraft goes around.

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    $\begingroup$ This holds true for IFR traffic cleared for an instrument approach, but I don't see that it addresses VFR traffic or IFR traffic operating on visual approach not having a published missed. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Jul 22 '17 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters Based on the simplicity of the question I assumed the OP would benefit most from a simple answer. $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Jul 22 '17 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not downvoting, I'm just pointing out that your simple answer only applies to some of the common cases. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Jul 22 '17 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that the distinction between VFR and IFR is important, and a simple statement like "if operating under visual rules, the appropriate procedure is to maneuver visually to enter the traffic pattern unless given other instructions by the controller." This doesn't really make it more complicated but does show that there is more involved than just one procedure... $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jul 24 '17 at 18:12
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Is the heading to go around always well-known at every airport?



The initial heading for a go around should always be well known based on a pilot's knowledge and understanding of the procedures associated with the type of approach being made. Generally, outlined below are the procedures used in U.S. airspace (unless modified by NOTAM, special notice, etc. for a particular location):


Go Around -

Tower Controlled Airport -VFR

  1. Fly runway heading and advise the tower of your missed approach. The controller will issue further instructions (normally to stay in the traffic pattern for another VFR approach).

Go Around -

Non-Tower Controlled Airport -VFR

  1. Report your missed approach on the VFR advisory frequency (or common traffic advisory frequency [CTAF], as appropriate) and fly runway heading until you turn back into the traffic pattern for another approach or depart the pattern for another destination.

Go Around -

Tower Controlled Airport - Radar Environment- IFR

  1. Aircraft under IFR using a published Instrument Approach will initially start flying the published Missed Approach Procedure noted on the Approach Chart for the runway and procedure in use. Then, after reporting the "missed approach" to the control tower, the controller will normally assign a heading and altitude (i.e., alternate missed approach instructions) to fly putting the aircraft back into the traffic flow for another instrument approach or clearance to some other airport.

  2. Aircraft under IFR flying a "Visual Approach" will report the Missed Approach to the tower. Since a "Visual Approach" has no "published" missed approach procedure the tower controller will normally issue a heading and altitude to fly for re-sequence into the IFR traffic flow or, if weather conditions and traffic allows, keep you into the local traffic pattern for another landing attempt.


Go Around -

Tower Controlled Airport - Non-Radar Environment- IFR

1.Aircraft under IFR using a published Instrument Approach will fly the published missed approach and contact the controller for further instructions.

2.Aircraft under IFR flying a "Visual Approach" will report the Missed Approach to ATC and will be issued further instructions by the controller.


Go Around -

Non-Tower Controlled Airport - Radar Environment- IFR

  1. Aircraft under IFR using a published Instrument Approach will initially start flying the published Missed Approach Procedure noted on the Approach Chart for the runway and procedure in use. Then, after reporting the "missed approach" to the radar controller, the controller will normally, after radar contact is reestablished, assign a heading and altitude (i.e., alternate missed approach instructions) to fly putting the aircraft back into the traffic flow for another instrument approach or clearance to some other airport.

  2. Aircraft under IFR flying a "Visual Approach" aircraft are expected to remain clear of clouds and complete a landing as soon as possible. If a landing cannot be accomplished, the aircraft is expected to remain clear of clouds and contact ATC as soon as possible for further clearance. Separation from other IFR aircraft will be maintained under these circumstances [ref: AIM/Aeronautical Information Manual, para. 5-4-23 e.].


Go Around -

Non-Tower Controlled Airport - Non-Radar Environment- IFR

  1. Aircraft under IFR using a published Instrument Approach will fly the published Missed Approach Procedure noted on the Approach Chart for the runway and procedure in use. Then, after reporting the "missed approach" to ATC, the controller will issue instructions putting the aircraft back into the traffic flow for another instrument approach or clearance to some other airport.

  2. Aircraft under IFR flying a "Visual Approach" aircraft are expected to remain clear of clouds and complete a landing as soon as possible. If a landing cannot be accomplished, the aircraft is expected to remain clear of clouds and contact ATC as soon as possible for further clearance. Separation from other IFR aircraft will be maintained under these circumstances [ref: AIM/Aeronautical Information Manual, para. 5-4-23 e.].

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All medium sized airports have charts published. Those charts contain every procedure the airport uses. The procedures for departure and for landing.

A go around is also called a Missed Approach. After a go around, the pilot usually flies the published missed approach procedure (MAP) for the approach he is flying. The procedure itself can be seen on the approach chart used. It consists of few, clear statements on how to fly the MAP.

Here an example from my home-airport LOWG. The following is the whole approach chart for the ILS 35 approach:

LOWG ILS 35 Approach

The red arrow shows the position of the missed approach procedure explanation. Following it is zoomed in:

LOWG ILS 35 MAP

When the pilot goes missed, he has to do exactly what the procedure sais. Let's go through it.

The MAP explained

  • CLIMB STRAIGHT AHEAD First of all the pilot should stay on runway track and climb.
  • WHEN PASSING D-3,0 OEG TURN RIGHT TO NDB GBG He stays on runway track until the aircraft is 3 nautical miles away from the localizer of the ILS, with the designator OEG. When 3 nautical miles are reached, he turns towards the GBG NDB. A NDB (Non directional beacon) is a navigational aid. The pilot can see at which angle he is flying towards the NDB but not how far away he is from it.
  • CLIMB TO 5000 FT AMSL While flying the pilot should climb on an altitude of 5000 ft Above Main Sea Level.
  • AND HOLD When he has reached the GBG NDG, the aircraft has to fly a holding pattern. This can also be seen on the chart:

LOWG ILS 35 MAP FIX

I think the picture is self-explaining. The point to fly the holding, in this case the GBG NDB, is called the missed approach fix.

In this holding the pilot can re-configure the plane for another approach. ATC will guide the plane to the next approach when ready.


Chart Source: Austrocontrol

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