CFI Tips & Techniques: “Go Arounds”
Craig O’Mara, GSLFIA Director
Landings seem to be a fairly difficult maneuver for some of our students and they ARE a leading cause of accidents, so we CFI’s spend a lot of time helping our students to perfect them. We spend so much time on landings, and in our attempts to keep costs low for our students, sometimes I think that maybe we spend too little time on another maneuver that also causes quite a few accidents – the go around. An organization called the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, while investigating Loss of Control – Inflight (LOC-I, and a subject for a future article), found that four recent accidents occurred due to improperly performed Go Arounds and made some recommendations in Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) number 15004 (see FAA.gov). How does that apply to GA you might say? We, in GA, also do Go Arounds and not all of them work out correctly!
So what do we do about it? How do you usually teach the Go Around? Hopefully after teaching them during your preflight briefing, you go out to the pattern and practice until your student is safe and proficient. But how do you present it to your student? The usual “aircraft on the runway, let’s go around”? That sounds great to get the mechanics of the maneuver down but what about teaching practical applications and judgement by designing scenarios that are varied and force your student to think:to make a decision to continue or land. May I suggest a few (and, please let me know what you think of these and give me your own ideas, so that I can become a better CFI also)?
1. If you operate from a controlled field, call the tower on the phone before you go into the pattern for take off and landing practice and ask them to direct a Go Around for your student (perfectly valid reason to Go Around).
2. Direct a Go Around from positions OTHER than the usual “short final”, such as an overshot final.
3. Direct a Go Around after touchdown to simulate avoiding a vehicle or aircraft that has just pulled onto your landing runway.
4. Night Go Arounds from a dark approach area (SUS landing East, SET, Sackmann field – yes, you have to fly on the Illinois side of the river to get there!!)
5. Direct the Go Around in the flare to simulate avoiding traffic.
6. If you have an Instrument student, practice the missed approach from various positions on the final approach segment – inside/outside the FAF.
7. If you have a multi student, practice from low speed/ high power positions, again such as in the flare.
With the wealth of knowledge that we have in our readers, I’m sure that you have your own ideas about how to make your Go Around training more realistic and also, and maybe more importantly, how to let your students use their own judgement and make the Go Around decision on their own without us always directing it. Again, thank you for listening, and as I always request, please let me know whether I’m wasting my time with this column or if you DO get something out of this and have any suggestions for future articles.