There have been many headlines in the past few months surrounding the unfortunate outcomes of Unstable Approaches and Go-Arounds that were initiated too late in the approach and landing phase of flight. Organizations all over the world have begun to harness the power of data collection tools like FOQA, ASAP, ASRS and other reporting systems to understand how the industry can turn around an increasingly dangerous trend: taking an unstable approach to a landing when a go-around would be safer.
In one very comprehensive commentary in the Flight Safety Foundation’s February 2013 issue of Aero Safety World, the numbers paint a very somber reality:
- In the past 16 years the most common type of aviation accident is the runway excursion, accounting for 33% of all accidents (both on takeoff and approach).
- The highest risk factor for a runway excursion is an Unstable Approach (UA).
- UAs account for 3.5-4.0% of approaches across the global fleet.
- Only 3% of all UAs are taken to a GA; leaving 97% of all UAs are taken to a landing.
The authors conclude from this data that, “if our go-around policies were effective even 50% of the time, the industry accident rate would be reduced 10-18%.”
If , like me, you are always on the lookout for some practical use for aviation statistics, you paused momentarily to consider the impact that 97% of all UAs (the ones that don’t result in a go-around) are having on the global aviation safety record.
During the time between now and our next post, we are asking that you inventory how you and your organization are responding to the facts that altogether too many UAs result in a landing, how your current policies and practices factor in the decision not to go-around when an approach is unstable, and how your aircraft’s flight deck automation should be employed to help you accomplish a safe Go-Around the next time you experience an Unstable Approach on final. Make a point of it; you can even share your personal observations on this site (we’d be glad to post your comments!).
In the meantime, we’ll be working on these questions ourselves in the next two parts of this three-part series.
Until our next report, fly safe and fly first.