I read that a go around is 1-3 out of every 1000 and I wondered how rare it is for a large commercial plane to actually hit the runway before deciding to go back up again.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've done approximately 45 in one B737 in a single day once, but that was a rare occasion of pilot training (I was a guest/observer). $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Aug 28 '19 at 21:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The decision to go back up again is usually made before the aircraft touches the runway. Making the decision to go around after the wheel touch the ground is dangerous because of automatic spoiler deployment and autobrakes which make going around difficult. See for example EK521. Pressing TO/GA before touching down switches the autospoilers and autobrakes off, so a touchdown after the decision is not so much of issue, yet still a very rare occasion. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Aug 28 '19 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima, Not to mention that many airline's SOPs require full brake and tire inspections after a go around after it's hit the deck! One Australian airline even requires the wheel and brake assembly be removed, delaying flights and ops. $\endgroup$ – Noah Aug 28 '19 at 22:03

Quite rare.

An approach abort that results in touchdown is called a "balked landing" and generally happens when you've started the landing transition, reducing power and starting the flare, where you are in a "low energy state" (speed decelerating below Vref and engines going to idle) at the time you make the go-around decision. It's considered a high(er) risk maneuver like high speed rejects on takeoff, because at that point you are likely going to touch down, however briefly, whether you want to or not.

Normal missed approach go-arounds happen mostly because of weather where the runway environment wasn't visible at minimums, and maybe occasionally from a runway incursion that is noticed early, or something like a report of a flock of birds in the way, which would be most of those 1-3 per 1000 landings. They happen at at least a hundred or couple hundred feet and usually don't involve actually touching down.

A balked landing will generally only be for something like a runway incursion at the last second, leaving you with a situation where landing and rolling out is obviously more dangerous than going around because you are probably going to hit something on the runway, and they are pretty rare events. Balked landings are usually special maneuver covered in the initial type course and may be included in recurrent training.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ Your assertion of “rare” is generally true, in my opinion, but some stats, outside sources, or even a validation of your industry expertise would improve your answer. Most of what you offer holds true for the light aircraft fleet, apart from intentional touch and gos, but maybe less true for the “jet-liners” in question. In my first and second hand experience, I would suggest automation or guidance issues, unstable approaches, gusty winds, and missed approaches during auto-land to be factors that figure largely in unintentional touch and go landings. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Aug 28 '19 at 23:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Way more information than needed. The poster mentioned T&G in the question, but the body was clear he was asking about go-arounds that involved ground contact. It's not a light aircraft thing. I've done balked landings in sim training in jets (RJs). It's a dedicated procedure, separate from the normal go-around routine and affects big airplanes with lots of inertia and laggy power response. I couldn't find any data on balked landings vs missed approaches,so tribal knowledge is all there is to go on. Admittedly the "rare" bit is what I would call informed opinion but that's all there is. $\endgroup$ – John K Aug 29 '19 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ Industry personnel would have access to actual data to be able to answer this question with specificity, though the data itself may be protected or confidential. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Aug 30 '19 at 0:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.