The Missed Approach

by Collin Yantos, Chief Operating Officer, LOFT Flight Training

CJPNOVDEC21 - LOFT Flight Training Logo“525HV, Aspen Tower, vehicle on runway, Go Around, fly the Published Missed Approach.”

UH-OH! Now what? When was the last time you had to fly a Missed Approach? Are you prepared for this, or did you just get the shock of your aviation life?

A Go Around – a Missed Approach – can elicit different emotions…

  • Frustration – ” I want to land – I want to ski!”
  • Anxiety – “I’m not ready for this – what do I do? What is the Published Missed Approach?!”
  • Calm – “Roger, going missed.”

Which would describe your reaction? This is NOT an emergency procedure. There is NO need to rush through the steps. When you think about it, a Missed Approach is, at the simplest level, a transition from a descent to a climb. In general, there are two types…

  • Completely unexpected – such as a last minute direction from tower or an unstable approach
  • Somewhat expected – anticipating no visual contact with the runway in marginal weather

We prepare for either event in the same way. The prep is easy, but it is hard.

What?

It is easy in that what you must practice is simple. It is hard in that you must discipline yourself to practice and practice and practice. To turn this into a ‘non-event,’ it must be repeatedly practiced. Repetition.

The saying goes “How do you fly a great ILS? Well, Fly 1,000 ILSs” The same is true for a Missed Approach. Fly 1,000 of them.

No one has the time, patience, nor fuel to actually fly 1,000 missed approaches. But there is an easy (and effective) way to replicate that.

Neuroscientists recognized many years ago that the brain does not differentiate between actually performing an action and mentally visualizing going through the motions. We read about that regularly with athletes mentally rehearsing the golf swing/shot, the pass reception, the baseball pitch.

Mentally REHEARSING the Missed Approach provides the same advantage – it builds a ‘muscle memory’ in the brain. An action or set of steps that can be effectively put in play at any moment.

This is the hard part – disciplining oneself to find the time to rehearse. I’ll give you a tip for when in just a moment.

But first, what are the steps? The simple part.

PICKLE-> POWER-> PITCH-> FLAPS APPROACH -> POSITIVE RATE -> GEAR UP -> FLAPS UP

Let’s flesh this out a bit.

  • PICKLE (TOGA) – Press the TOGA button. This…
    • Disconnects the autopilot.
    • Positions the command bars to 10° pitch and wings level providing a target on the ADI.
  • POWER – Advance the throttles to Go Around Power – Moderately and smoothly
    • Moving the throttles at a moderate rate will help you anticipate the pitch down moment when the engines reach full power.
    • In the event of an engine failure, slowly advancing the throttles to go around power will make it easier for you to apply rudder and aileron inputs to maintain a desired flight path.
  • PITCH – Pitch up to 10°
    • Smoothly and deliberately
    • Pitch in conjunction with throttle advance anticipating the pitch down from thrust.
  • FLAPS APPROACH
    • No need to rush this.
    • Comfortably advance the power and pitch to 10°.
    • Then position the flaps to approach.
  • POSITIVE RATE – GEAR UP
    • DO NOT RUSH THIS! It is critical to establish a positive rate of climb before moving the gear. Take a breath and ensure positive VSI (and consider also ensuring the altimeter is increasing).
    • It is not unusual to touchdown if rejecting a landing at or inside of the threshold.
  • FLAPS UP
    • Again, take your time.
    • The earliest the flaps can be retracted to ‘0’ is VREF + 10; the latest is 200 KIAS.

Those are the steps for a Missed Approach in its simplest form. CJP has polished it up to make it much more user-friendly and more appropriate for instrument flying. The steps look more like this:

PICKLE -> POWER -> PITCH -> FLAPS APPROACH -> POSITIVE RATE -> GEAR UP -> FMS -> NAV -> FLAPS UP ->  CLIMB THRUST -> FLCH 200

CJPNOVDEC21-LOFT Aero Citation Go-Around Graphic

After raising the gear, let your hand drift north and select/ensure the FMS is your primary NAV source and select NAV on the Mode Control panel. (VOR & NAV or HDG if more appropriate to the procedure.)

After the Flaps are raised, reduce to climb power, and select FLC to 200 KIAS. Notice the command bars will maintain 10° until this point providing a comfortable deck angle.

Don’t forget the autopilot. When the aircraft is stable and above the minimum autopilot engage altitude, it is a great tool to reduce your workload.

And let’s add one more thing – know the published missed approach procedure. Be ready for required turns, altitude and airspeed restrictions. The FMS will help but as always – Trust but verify.

Also be ready for “Alternate Missed Approach ” instructions. The Tower controller may have a different plan for your routing based on departures or arrivals to and from other runways.

Again, the miss is simply a transition from a descent to a climb. If you are cruising at 5,000′ and get a clearance to 7,000′ it’s likely you are going to advance the power slowly and ease the nose up to begin the climb. And probably reduce your power and vertical speed for a smooth level off.

Smooth. Slow. Moderate. Deliberate.

The hard part – memorizing/practicing/rehearsing. There is no getting around it – you must memorize these steps. And rehearse them. Who likes to do that?! So, when can you rehearse?

How about every time you fly an approach? As part of your approach briefing (optimally prior to TOD), review the steps including the mode control buttons you will select (including presetting the Missed Approach altitude and heading). And once again after beginning the approach. It just takes a few seconds to run through the ‘script’ – “If I have to go-around, PICKLE, POWER, PITCH, FLAPS APP, POSITIVE RATE-GEAR UP, FMS, NAV, FLAPS UP, CLIMB POWER, FLCH 200, initial turn to the right”

If you plan and REHEARSE a missed approach on EVERY approach you fly, the one time in a year (or longer) that you must perform, it will be automatic. That’s it folks. Safe flying!