Ground Effect

Ground effect is a factor in every landing and every takeoff in fixed-wing airplanes. Ground effect can also be an important factor in go-arounds. If the go-around is made close to the ground, the airplane may be in the ground effect area. Pilots are often lulled into a sense of false security by the apparent “cushion of air” under the wings that initially assists in the transition from an approach descent to a climb. This “cushion of air,” however, is imaginary. The apparent increase in airplane performance is, in fact, due to a reduction in induced drag in the ground effect area. It is “borrowed” performance that must be repaid when the airplane climbs out of the ground effect area. The pilot must factor in ground effect when initiating a go-around close to the ground. An attempt to climb prematurely may result in the airplane not being able to climb or even maintain altitude at full power.

Common errors in the performance of go-arounds (rejected landings) are:

  • Failure to recognize a condition that warrants a rejected landing
  • Indecision
  • Delay in initiating a go-around
  • Failure to apply maximum allowable power in a timely manner
  • Abrupt power application
  • Improper pitch attitude
  • Failure to configure the airplane appropriately
  • Attempting to climb out of ground effect prematurely
  • Failure to adequately compensate for torque/P factor
  • Loss of aircraft control