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In this recording of ATC during the 2008 crash of a British Airways Boeing 777 at London Heathrow the controller is heard to say "Qatari 011, go around".

How would the pilot of Qatari 011 know what actions to take in terms of which direction and level to fly at? Is it assumed that some other controller will direct the traffic to a holding area?

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Depending on which country you're flying in, the specific approach may or may not have a defined missed approach procedure.

If the plane is flying a visual approach, then you're most likely not going to have a procedure to use when going around. The generally accepted technique is to either fly the runway heading and climb to a safe altitude, or enter the airport's traffic pattern until ATC gets back to you, but that's generally not a legal requirement.

If the plane is flying an instrument approach, the approach plate will include missed approach procedures. Of course, ATC may give you instructions on what to do if you have to go around, in which case, these instructions take priority.

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    $\begingroup$ See my comment on Mike's answer. A visual approach does not have a published missed approach segment. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Oct 19 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ @randomhead: Who said the pilot was on a visual approach? This is Heathrow we're talking about, meaning almost certainly it was an instrument approach... also being Heathrow also means .65 doesn't apply. (Hair splitting the hair splitting :P) $\endgroup$
    – ymb1
    Oct 19 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1: No one said this aircraft was on a visual approach, but HW said "If the plane is flying IFR... the approach will include missed approach procedures." That is an incorrect statement. A visual approach is an Instrument Flight Rules procedure. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Oct 19 at 5:27
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    $\begingroup$ @randomhead: The distinction you're very keen on is American/Canadian, and this is my point, because only in USA is giving a visual approach to an IFR flight where an instrument procedure exists is extremely common. This is why US AIP (forget .65) spells it out in ENR 1.5 (UK AIP doesn't for instance). And, ICAO guidance makes no such distinction. ►► All that to say: when HW's and Mike's answer say IFR, it is right away clear what they mean (everyday talk for a plane on an instrument approach). And the distinction while correct in USA, is distracting from the basic answer, IMO. $\endgroup$
    – ymb1
    Oct 19 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ I've reworded my answer to be more general, so it hopefully includes procedures in other countries. Is this better? $\endgroup$ Oct 19 at 14:33
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Anytime an IFR aircraft, on an IFR approach, does a go-around, there is a published missed approach that must be followed.

(In some jurisdictions an IFR aircraft can be given a Visual Approach clearance and the published missed approach would no longer be valid in the case of a go-around during a Visual Approach).

The published IFR missed approach procedure is the same whether or not it is a pilot initiated or ATC initiated missed approach (go-around).

In an ATC initiated missed approach, the missed approach procedure will be often be amended. If the aircraft is expected to return for landing, ATC may say something like: “Climb runway heading, maintain 5,000’, contact departure”.

In the case of a pilot initiated missed approach, ATC will also often amended the missed approach procedure. The Sometimes the pilot may ask for an amended missed approach during the approach, or during the missed approach.

Amending the missed approach procedure can be useful for maintaining aircraft separation and expediting the flow of air traffic in the area.

If no amendment is given, the aircraft will follow the published missed approach and hold as published.

In this case particular case, “Quatari 011 go around” was followed by “Quatari 011, standard missed approach”.

An example of a Runway 27L missed approach is: MISSED APCH: Climb STRAIGHT AHEAD, when passing 1080' or D0.0 ILL, whichever is later, climbing turn LEFT on track 150 to 2000'. When passing D6.0 LON climb without delay to 3000', then as directed.

ATC would then give further instructions, or the aircraft would hold at “EPSOM” as published.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ "Anytime an IFR aircraft does a go-around, there is a published missed approach that must be followed." — this is patently false; in the USA at the very least, it is made very clear to both pilots and controllers that a visual approach does not have a published missed approach segment. I don't know how things are done in the UK (a quick search was not as helpful as I hoped) but as a blanket statement it is incorrect due to the FAA counterexample. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Oct 19 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ Also note that the published missed approach for an instrument approach procedure is designed to provide separation from terrain and obstructions, and not necessarily procedural control from other aircraft operating in the area. For this reason it is (again, in the USA) exceedingly uncommon for a published missed approach to be executed at a towered airport; heading and altitude instructions will be provided and the aircraft will be vectored back around for another approach. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Oct 19 at 3:27
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    $\begingroup$ @randomhead That is (giving a vector and climb altitude) very common in Europe as well. But the MAP is the default unless specified otherwise. And visual approaches are very rare for IFR traffic, doubly so for airliners. $\endgroup$
    – Vladimir F
    Oct 19 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @randomhead I am not sure about EGLL, as that is an extremely busy airport and surely be stricter, but LKPR has this in the AIP: "2.21.3.1 Visual approach 2.21.3.1.1 Visual approaches are prohibited.", then some exceptions, and "2.22.4.2.9 The IFR flight conducting visual approach shall, in case of the missed approach, conduct missed approach procedure, which is published on instrument approach chart for the same runway, unless otherwise instructed from the ATC." $\endgroup$
    – Vladimir F
    Oct 19 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ @randomhead It is not that the NDB approach MAP is different from the VOR approach MAP and that different from ILS approach MAP. They are the same. If there is no approach plate for the visual approach, the pilot just follows the MAP from one of the other plates. Maybe in some complicated cases they might use ILS backtracking, unavailable for the NDB approach or similar, but in this case they are the same, fly track xxx, climb to 4000 ft, vectoring will be provided. In case of RCF turn right to OKL VOR... $\endgroup$
    – Vladimir F
    Oct 19 at 14:35
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Aircraft on an instrument flight rules flight plan have received a clearance to fly to a specific point and no further; this is called their clearance limit. These days the destination airport is usually the first and only clearance limit for a flight, but this is not necessarily so; an aircraft may be cleared to a certain radionavigation aid or set of coordinates and be told to expect further clearance later. If they reach their clearance limit without receiving further clearance they must initiate holding procedures at that location.

An instrument approach procedure is a combined route and set of altitudes that are designed to allow aircraft to navigate both laterally and vertically to a point where they can acquire visual reference to the runway environment and execute a landing (or, in the case of an autoland approach, to allow them to navigate all the way to the runway itself). As the other answers have said, a missed approach procedure is a part of that approach, and it is designed to allow the aircraft to navigate both laterally and vertically away from the ground and to a safe altitude in the event that, for any reason, a landing cannot be accomplished.

(A visual approach is a procedure where the pilot has the airport [or the runway environment or a preceding aircraft] in sight, and instead of navigating by reference to instruments to the runway they navigate by visual reference out the window. A visual approach has no missed approach segment;1 in the event of a go-around at a towered airport ATC will provide explicit instructions, and at a non-towered airport the pilot is expected to continue to navigate visually and land as soon as possible or else contact ATC for further clearance.)

It is also possible for ATC to issue heading and altitude instructions to a go-around aircraft instead of permitting them to execute the published missed approach. This is often more beneficial if there is other traffic in the area. In the absence of such instructions the pilots should be planning on flying the published missed approach; if for some reason they do not receive ATC instructions and there is no published missed approach, probably it would be safe for them to assume a climb on runway heading to a known minimum safe altitude (or minimum sector altitude) for their area. This minimum altitude is published on the approach chart.

In this specific case, at 1:26 in your linked video the controller issued a go-around instruction to QTR011, which the pilot acknowledged. Later in the video, at 2:20, the pilot queried the controller; I can't quite understand what he said, but it must have been asking the controller to confirm their instructions after completing the go-around, because the controller responded (at 2:23) "Qatari zero-one-one, standard missed approach." This told the pilots that they were to execute the standard, or published, missed approach procedure.


1FAA JO 7110.65 7–4–1

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    $\begingroup$ It's also possible to pre-negotiate an alternate missed approach procedure. For example if the published procedure includes a left turn but there is a thunderstorm to the left, a pilot could request something like "Tower, FooAir 1234, in the event of a missed approach, request runway heading due to weather." – "FooAir 1234, Tower, runway heading for missed approach approved as requested". $\endgroup$ Oct 19 at 8:01
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Either there is a published procedure to follow (usual for controlled airspace) and there will be either company procedures and/or aircraft type specific procedures to follow.

What exactly the crew will do depends on the combination of those. Raise gear (if applicable), apply power, raise flaps (as needed), raise nose (if needed to increase climb rate), and either follow ATC instructions or the published procedures for a new heading and altitude to reconnect to the arrival queue.

Over Heathrow, no doubt there is an established procedure that the crew will have followed for course and altitude to take, as well as speed, until such a time that they're contacted by ATC to guide them into a hold or diversion airport (I'm not sure what the controllers at Heathrow decided after that crash, they could either bring in the arrivals on the single remaining runway, divert them to say Gatwick, or hope the delays won't lead anyone into a fuel emergency and let them circle while the damage is assessed).

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