My first post in here (hopefully a few more to come!) I have a question that I've been pondering for a while, so hopefully some of you kind people can answer it for me!
I was on a flight in May of last year from Manchester to Las Vegas. It's a reasonably long trip (around 9 hours) but it was a very smooth flight, until the final approach. We were being bumped around quite a bit decending into McCarran airport, and although the weather was clear, it was obvious there was a fair amount of wind outside! Anyway, we came to within 100 ft or so of touching down when all of a sudden, the pilot applied power and took off. We circled around for another landing attempt (all the while being buffeted by the strong wind) on the same runway and exactly the same thing happened again.
Shortly after the second climb from the runway, the pilot announced that they were having problems with strong tail winds making it unsafe to land the aircraft and that they were going to try another runway. The third attempt at landing on the alternative runway was also aborted. By this point, the poor cabin crew were pacing up and down the the aisles handing out sick bags left, right and centre!
After the third failed attempt, there was a fourth unsuccesful attempt on the original runway, leading to a fifth attempt and successful landing, much to the relief of everyone on board!
I'm no expert and wouldn't say I was a regular air passenger, but that seemed like a fairly extraordinary number of go arounds to me! Does that seem like a normal procedure to any of you guys? I know that airliners take off with more fuel than they need for the journey in case of situations like this, but all of those take offs must use a tremendous amount of fuel! Is it a possibility that the pilot was simply running out of fuel and landed the aircraft (A330-200, BTW) as a matter of necessity? I'm not criticising the actions of the air crew, as I think any landing everybody walks away from is a good one, but the situation definitely had alot of people (myself included) worried for a while!