Go-Around (Rejected Landings)
Whenever landing conditions are not satisfactory, a go-around is warranted. There are many factors that can contribute to unsatisfactory landing conditions. Situations such as ATC requirements, unexpected appearance of hazards on the runway, overtaking another aircraft, wind shear, wake turbulence, mechanical failure and/or an unstabilized approach are all examples of reasons to discontinue a landing approach and make another approach under more favorable conditions. The assumption that an aborted landing is invariably the consequence of a poor approach, which in turn is due to insufficient experience or skill, is a fallacy. The go-around is not strictly an emergency procedure. It is a normal maneuver that may at times be used in an emergency situation. Like any other normal maneuver, the go-around must be practiced and perfected. The flight instructor should emphasize early in the student pilot’s training that the go-around maneuver is an alternative to any approach and/or landing.
Although the need to discontinue a landing may arise at any point in the landing process, the most critical go-around is one started when very close to the ground. Therefore, the earlier a condition that warrants a go-around is recognized, the safer the go-around/rejected landing is. The go-around maneuver is not inherently dangerous in itself. It becomes dangerous only when delayed unduly or executed improperly. Delay in initiating the go-around normally stems from one or both of two sources:
- Landing expectancy or set—the anticipatory belief that conditions are not as threatening as they are and that the approach will surely be terminated with a safe landing, and
- Pride—the mistaken belief that the act of going around is an admission of failure to execute the approach properly. The improper execution of the go-around maneuver stems from a lack of familiarity with the two cardinal principles of the procedure: power and speed.
Power is the pilot’s first concern. The instant the pilot decides to go around, full or maximum allowable takeoff power must be applied smoothly and without hesitation and held until flying speed and controllability are restored. Applying only partial power in a go-around is never appropriate unless the WSC aircraft is at an unusually high pitch angle. The pilot must be aware of the degree of inertia that must be overcome before an aircraft that is settling toward the ground can regain sufficient airspeed to become fully controllable and capable of turning safely or climbing. The application of power should be smooth as well as positive. Abrupt movements of the throttle in some aircrafts causes the engine to falter.
Speed is always critical when close to the ground. When power is added, a deliberate effort on the part of the pilot is required to keep the nose from pitching up prematurely. The aircraft executing a go-around must be maintained well beyond the stall point before any effort is made to gain altitude or to execute a turn. Raising the nose too early may produce a stall from which the aircraft could not recover if the go-around is performed at a low altitude. The manufacturer’s recommended climb speed should be established and maintained during the initial phase of the go-around.
A concern for quickly regaining altitude during a go-around produces a natural tendency to push the nose up. The pilot executing a go-around must accept the fact that an aircraft will not climb until it can fly, and it will not fly below stall speed. In some circumstances, it may be desirable to lower the nose briefly to gain airspeed. [Figure 11-21]
During the initial part of an extremely low go-around, the aircraft may settle onto the runway and bounce. This situation is not particularly dangerous if the aircraft is kept straight and a constant, safe speed is maintained. The aircraft is rapidly approaching safe flying speed and the advanced power will cushion any secondary touchdown.
Common errors in the performance of go-around (rejected landings) are:
- Failure to recognize a condition that warrants a rejected landing,
- Delay in initiating a go-round,
- Failure to apply maximum allowable power in a timely manner,
- Improper speed,
- Attempting to climb out of ground effect prematurely, and
- Failure to adequately compensate for torque/Pfactor.
Short and Soft Field Landing Techniques
Many WSC aircraft land routinely on short and soft fields. The type of WSC and appropriate systems for short and soft field was discussed in the Components and Systems chapter. Here, some techniques for these landing areas are discussed.
Short-Field Approaches and Landings
Short-field approaches and landings require the use of procedures for approaches and landings at fields with a relatively short landing area or where an approach is made over obstacles that limit the available landing area. [Figure 11-22]
As in short-field takeoffs, it is one of the most critical of the maximum performance operations. It requires that the pilot fly the aircraft at one of its crucial performance capabilities while close to the ground in order to land safely within confined areas.
To land within a short field or confined area, the pilot must have precise, positive control of the rate of descent and airspeed to produce an approach that clears any obstacles, results in little or no floating during the roundout, and permits the aircraft to be stopped in the shortest possible distance. As with the short takeoff maneuver, this should only be done for unusual situations or emergency operations and is not recommended. There are numerous airports, fields, and other areas to land, so preflight planning should avoid short-field landings. However, short-field procedures are provided for information.
A stabilized approach is essential. These procedures generally involve the starting to final approach from an altitude of at least 500 feet higher than the touchdown area. In the absence of a manufacturer’s recommended approach speed and in calm winds, example approach speeds are 1.3 times the stall speed or 8 knots above the stall speed. For example, in an aircraft that stalls at 30 knots with power off, the approach speed should be 38 to 40 knots. This maneuver should not be performed in gusty air because of the slow speeds and close proximity to the ground. If it is necessary to accomplish in gusty air, no more than one-half the gust factor should be added. An excessive amount of airspeed could result in a touchdown with an after-landing roll that exceeds the available landing area.
For the steepest glide angle to clear obstacles such as trees or buildings, the maneuver should be performed at idle power; if the landing surface does not have obstacles that must be fl own over, power on approach may be used to reach the landing surface. The pilot should simultaneously adjust the power and the speed to establish and maintain the proper descent angle. A coordinated combination of both speed and power (if used) adjustments is required to set up a stabilized approach.
The short-field approach and landing is in reality an accuracy approach to a spot landing. The procedures previously outlined in the section on the stabilized approach concept should be used. If it appears that the obstacle clearance is excessive and touchdown will occur well beyond the desired spot leaving insufficient room to stop, lowering the pitch attitude and reducing power (if used) steepen the descent path and increase the rate of descent. If it appears that the descent angle will not ensure safe clearance of obstacles, power should be increased to shallow the descent path and decrease the rate of descent. Care must be taken to avoid an excessively low airspeed. If the speed is allowed to become too low, an increase in pitch and application of full power may result in a further rate of descent. This occurs when the AOA is too great and creating so much drag that the maximum available power is insufficient to overcome it. This is generally referred to as operating in the region of reversed command or operating on the back side of the power curve.
Because the final approach over obstacles is made at a relatively steep approach angle and at the minimum manufacturer’s recommended approach speed, the initiation of the roundout must be judged accurately to avoid flying into the ground or stalling prematurely and sinking rapidly. A lack of floating during the roundout with sufficient control to touch down properly is one verification that the approach speed was correct.
Upon touchdown, the nose should be brought down completely for aerodynamic braking and providing maximum pressure on the wheels for using the braking system. Immediately upon touchdown, appropriate braking should be applied to minimize the after-landing roll. The aircraft should be stopped within the shortest possible distance consistent with safety and controllability. If the situation arises and the minimum landing distance is required, the WSC can be landed above the normal speed, the nose brought down for aerodynamic braking while the brakes are applied for the shortest distance possible.
Soft and Rough Field Approaches and Landings
Landing on fields that are rough or have soft surfaces, such as snow, sand, mud, tall grass, or a rocky/bumpy fi eld requires unique procedures. When landing on such surfaces, the objective is to touch down as smoothly as possible and at the lowest possible landing speed. The pilot must control the aircraft so that the wings support the weight of the aircraft as long as is practical to minimize drag and stresses imposed on the landing gear by the rough or soft surface.
Similar to the soft field for takeoff, proper gear—specifically big tires with a large wing and overall low weight—should be utilized for soft or rough field operations. Refer to appropriate gear and warnings in Chapter 7, Takeoff and Departure Climbs, for soft or rough field operation as a prerequisite for this chapter.
The approach for the soft field landing is similar to the normal approach used for operating into long, firm landing areas. The major difference between the two is that, during the soft or rough field landing, the distance on the soft/rough field is minimized and the weight is kept off the wheels by the lift of the wing when on the soft/rough field. Power can be used throughout the level-off and touchdown to ensure touchdown at the lowest possible airspeed, with the WSC aircraft flown onto the ground with the weight fully supported by the wings. The touchdown should be planned for minimal taxi distance to the stopping point so there is the shortest possible distance with weight on the landing gear on the rough/soft surface. [Figure 11-23]
Touchdown on a soft or rough field should be made at the lowest possible airspeed with the aircraft in a nose-high pitch attitude. After the main wheels touch the surface, the pilot should hold bar-forward pressure to keep the nosewheel off the surface. Using forward control bar pressure and engine power, the pilot can control the rate at which the weight of the aircraft is transferred from the wings to the wheels.
Field conditions may warrant that the pilot maintain a flight condition where the main wheels are just touching the surface, but the weight of the aircraft is still being supported by the wings until a suitable taxi surface is reached. At any time during this transition phase, before the weight of the aircraft is being supported by the wheels and before the nosewheel is on the surface, the pilot should be able to apply full power and perform a safe takeoff (obstacle clearance and field length permitting) should the pilot elect to abandon the landing. Once committed to a landing, the pilot should gently lower the nosewheel to the surface. A slight reduction of power usually helps ease the nosewheel down.
The use of brakes on a soft field is not needed and should be avoided as this tends to impose a heavy load on the nose gear due to premature or hard contact with the landing surface causing the nosewheel to dig in. The soft or rough surface itself provides sufficient reduction in the aircraft’s forward speed. Often upon landing on a very soft field, the pilot needs to increase power to keep the aircraft moving and from becoming stuck on the soft surface.