View Full Version : Goaround in ATH becomes news story

9th Dec 2003, 16:04
Interesting story, caused by an AF A320 aborted landing / goaround in Athens, on Dec. 4th, with the leader of the opposition on board. This has been making news (relatively speaking) in Greece during the last few days, so I thought I'd give a summary here. Seems like a combination of misinformation on the part of the pilot, hype, and probably genuine worry on the part of the average passenger who doesn't know that much when it comes to such procedures.

From Friday's press
Goaround causes concern:
An AF A320 flight (AF332) from Paris to Athens, with the leader of the opposition onboard (K. Karamanlis of the ND party) executed a goaround, causing alarm to the passengers.
In my own free translation, articles from greek newspapers describe Mr. Karamanlis and the other passengers as "worried but not alarmed" after the plane pulled up moments before touching the ground. A few minutes later though, the pilot announced that he had to abort because "there was a piece of machinery or other object on the runway", when he spoke in french, and "another plane on the runway", when he spoke in english, according to several passengers.
After this, the ND party spokesman asked for the matter to be investigated, because "if the pilot's allegations are true, it is a serious matter". The greek Civil Aviation Authority (YPA), on its part, said that there were no objects on the runway, and that the AF pilot chose to goaround because apparently he was coming too high in his approach. Although the incident will be investigated, "it would not have became a news story, were it not for the leader of the opposition's presence on the plane".

From Satruday's and Sunday's press
Pilot appologizes:
From the investigation carried out by YPA and the transcript of the tape recordings of the communications between the control tower and the pilot, it turns out that there was indeed no object or plane on the landing runway. According to YPA's announcement, the A320 was on a normal approach to land. "While the aircraft was at an altitude of 200 ft above the runway and with a speed of 128 mi/hr, the pilot initiated a goaround on his own initiative. On the control towers asking, the pilot attributed his goaround to an "unstabilized approach" ."
The AF pilot issued an appology yesterday for the upset he caused by the way he handled the goaround. In his statement he admited that there was no object or other plane on the runway.

9th Dec 2003, 16:29
For whatever reason the goaround was initiated, it appears the pilot took the safe option. Explanations to the cabin, during a time of high workload, seem to have been made in the knowledge that there is a 'blame culture' among the public and especially the press. The technicalities are a matter for discussion between the pilot and his operations/training department.
Passengers should be reassured that a goaround is a well practiced procedure and a decision NOT to take a chance.

Agaricus bisporus
9th Dec 2003, 17:23
For whatever reason he did the right thing by going around. If he felt he needed to, then he should never be criticised for it.

Shame he blew it by breaking the first rule of talking to pax - he lied to them. And surprise surprise he got found out. It seems it was that, and not the go around that has caused the fuss.

Maybe don't tell the whole truth, or just a watered down version of it, but lie at your peril.

9th Dec 2003, 19:06
Maybe don't tell the whole truthWhy not? "I wasn't entirely happy with the approach, so rather than take a chance I thought it better to go around again and get it just right." That's the whole truth, and I can't see too many pax, whether they are leading politicians or not, having a problem with it.


9th Dec 2003, 19:37
9iron and Agaricus Bisporus -nicely put, agreed 100%

Well, since this thing got mentioned here I thought it might be of interest to have the story as the (known) tower controller told it (anonymously in public) in a Greek aviation-related discussion list. The controller kept referring to it as a non-incident:

[loosely translated from the Greek by myself]
a) Weather and ATIS information at the time of the incident: 34010ŹŌ 9999 FEW025 10/06 Q1026 DEP 03R, LDG 03L, ATV DME U/S

b) Traffic Information. Arrivals: AFR2332 on 03L. Departures: a Veravia on 03R departing simultaneously with the French arrival.

On first contact, the French reported fully established ILS 03L and the controller (a very experienced and collected radar-trained guy, according to my own personal view) having verified his position on radar and having him in sight, cleared him to land also passing wind information. At some point the controller notices the aircraft pulling the nose up and gaining altitude, so he asks the pilot of any problems. (I later found that the aircraft was at 400ft height above the touch). The pilot responds “I call you back” and the aircraft continues to pull up. The controller asks the pilot to execute the published missed approach procedure for 03L and he subsequently informs the departures controller for the missed approach so that proper separation of the two aircraft can be established.

Please bear in mind that a missed approach on any of the runways at LGAV IS NOT separated with departures on the other runway(s). On hearing of the missed approach and since I had just handed my shift over to the next colleague, I went to arrivals to see whether any extra help was needed for the necessary communications with Approach regarding altitudes and frequencies and to offer an extra pair of ears that can sometimes prove useful. At the time when the French aircraft was overflying the runway I was looking at the radar screen instead to try and see where the departure was, so I was able to see the French to be at 2000ft by the end of the runway.

I forgot to mention that, together with the missed approach procedure, the arrivals controller also passed traffic information “light aircraft departing from 03R is now 600ft”. The radar controller repeats to the aircraft the missed approach information and the pilot reports continuing on the appropriate heading climbing to altitude 6000ft, turning right at 10nm. The controller hands him off to approach and we both sit down looking at each other baffled since there was no apparent reason for the missed approach. We however paid no particular attention to the whole incident since it is not an extraordinary occurrence. Moreover the pilot reported nothing at all regarding any unusual observations or any other reasons whatsoever. Naturally we all assumed that he had come in high on the approach and he had thus elected to go around. The departures controller immediately passed the information to the Veravia (Swearingen, SW4) that an Airbus A320 was executing a missed approach procedure, separated him in altitude and handed him off to Approach.

The whole story for me ends here as I left for home, despite it not exactly being “routine” due to its non-separation nature. I arrived only to find my father uttering words to the effect that two aircraft had almost collided to each other. As you can understand, I was left there standing dumbfounded. I did of course explain to him exactly what had happened, without however having any knowledge that inside the Air France was the opposition leader and a whole bunch of journalists, turning the whole incident into a major issue, which resulted in my colleagues staying up all night talking on the phone to various superiors and supervising authorities.

I later found out that the Tower had contacted the captain and that the reason for the whole upset was that the captain had indeed told his passengers in French of an object on the runway and in English of another aircraft on the runway, in order to try and preserve the prestige of both himself and his company (apparently he didn’t want to mention that he came in high because he thought that would rub off on him and he did not want to say that “he had an indication” because that would rub off on his company in terms of maintenance and safety standards). Despite that, I personally consider it unacceptable of a professional pilot to tell his passengers something like this. He could have at least put it in a more eloquent way; that he had for example had to go around for air traffic reasons or something.

In trying to understand what the French captain had in mind and why he reacted in this way, perhaps we should also mention that at LFPG the controller may clear an aircraft to land even when the aircraft is no3 on the ILS, based on the logical certainty that the preceding aircraft will have cleared the runway in time before the no3 needs to go around (as described in Doc 4444). I thus assume that going-around due to the runway being occupied is not such a rare occurrence in France. Fortunately, here we do not follow this practice yet but it still is a hot and favourite topic for discussion with pilots in the flight deck on some of my trips.

9th Dec 2003, 22:22
A landing is an approach without a go around.
Whatever human error there may have been in communication during the event or even any that may have precipitated the situation, crews such as this deserve our full support. Their flight handling action is perfect example (role model) of the behavior that the industry promotes and requires to maintain the excellent safety record. This crew appeared to be vigilant to the hazards of flight, detected an error, and then took action to mitigate any further hazard to the operation; well done.
When you conclude that pilot error was the cause then start the investigation again.
I hope that any investigation will follow the advice above and seek an understanding of the issues that led to the unstable approach; ATC, weather, birds, distraction, pressure of time, or just a bad day. We have all been there, but did we take the same positive action that this crew did?

Our industry strives for a ‘no blame’ culture within a ‘just’ and ‘fair’ organisation; so look to ourselves before judging others, then join with those who are attempting to educate the traveling public about our good aviation safety record.
Please bear in mind that a missed approach on any of the runways at LGAV IS NOT separated with departures on the other runway(s).
This appears to be the first safety lesson to be learnt from this normal operation go around, I hope that ATC and their management continue to investigate and review procedures.

White Knight
10th Dec 2003, 00:38
Interesting - pot calling the kettle black springs to mind. I thought that it was politicians who were the liars most of the time:D :D

10th Dec 2003, 01:35
I agree with the idea that pax should be told straight what's happening, but it isn't always a very good idea... ...I was slf on a delayed Bangkok Airways flight from VTBD to Koh Samui a few years back... ...in broken english the pilot excused the delay by saying "This was due to a serious malfunction with the engines on the previous flight"... ...err, right, more info than I needed really - "I spilt my yoghurt all over the pedestal" would have been much better, thanks!

So, maybe the AF guy calling up and saying "Doh! I goofed it guys. You'd think I'd know what I'm doing by now wouldn't you? Oh well I'll go around and try again." might not have been helpful either. All he really did was execute a bit of automated blurb to tell the pax what they wanted to hear: "yeah, we're going up again, but there's nothing wrong with the plane, with me, or with the runway, so don't worry about it!"

Somebody should publish a book: "1000 great excuses for executing a go-around".

10th Dec 2003, 02:07
I would imagine that this would be fogotten by all non particpants, including PPrune by the end of the day.

100% N1
10th Dec 2003, 03:26
I agree with Clear_Prop. Imagine that you were a pax on this flight and it was your first time flying. If the pilot came on and said that he had to make a go around because he screwed up the landing and wasn't coming in right, you're not going to feel very confident that you'll get back on the ground again. If he simply said that there was something on the runway then you're not going to be so worried. Yeah, he lied to them, but so what? The lies were made with the passangers best interests at mind.

Anyway, imagine the news reports if he told them the truth. "As soon as I heard that the pilot wasn't able to fly the plane properly, I started praying to god. I just knew that it was the end, we were going to crash."

Chaos Controller
10th Dec 2003, 05:09
I don't understant the logic in what 100% N1 is saying here. Is it really better to lie to the passengers, and make them believe that the controllers on the ground doesn't have any control at all of what is going on?
You think it is better that the passengers are saying "As soon as I heard that the controller wasn't able to controll the air traffic properly, I started praying to god. I just knew that it was the end, we were going to crash"?
And how much confidence will the passengers have to the pilot/airline that have lied to them, and not being able to admit that they did a small error?

Edit: Typo

10th Dec 2003, 09:50
Whilst I certainly agree that honesty is by far the best policy, I would have to draw the line at informing my pax that we were going around because I had got it wrong, or for whatever reason was not happy with the approach.

Not through any stubborn pride/presitige etc etc, but simply because pax DO NOT want to hear the man/woman at the pointy end telling them he/she has made a mistake, whilst commendable for your honesty, I am sure this course of action does nothing for the confidence of the average pax. I would prefer to give as little information as possible whilst still informing pax adequately. Possibly something to the tune of

" Sorry for all the noise folks, slight change of plans we're going to do a little more sight seeing for a couple of minutes before we can land, nothing to worry about just waiting for clearance"

Whilst not putting the fear of God into the poor blighters, neither are you deviating from the truth either, because in fact you WILL be waiting clearance to land.

10th Dec 2003, 21:58
100% N1:
Anyway, imagine the news reports if he told them the truth. "As soon as I heard that the pilot wasn't able to fly the plane properly, I started praying to god. I just knew that it was the end, we were going to crash."

:p "Aircraft plunges hundreds of feet upwards"

10th Dec 2003, 22:18
Why not? "I wasn't entirely happy with the approach, so rather than take a chance I thought it better to go around again and get it just right."I've been on at least two flights where the pilots did go arounds, so I'll give you my viewpoint as a lowly SLF.

The first one was a night approach to BOS in relatively poor weather. Shortly after the go around the pilot announced something to the effect that they didn't like the way things were lined up for that approach, so they elected to go around. There was no panic in the cabin and I wasn't in any way concerned. Nor did it reduce my opinion of the pilot. In fact, I appreciated his caution.

The second go around was an evening approach to ATL on an L1011. We were quite low -- low enough that I was looking into the doors of the Delta maintenance hangers off to the left of the runway. I was in first class, too far to hear the engines spooling up. But I noticed the angle of attack increasing, greater than what I expected for flare. The gear never touched the runway, but I'd guess we were pretty close. The pilot came on and said that an aircraft had not completely cleared the runway. I was more concerned about this incident, than the former, but again not terribly worried.

11th Dec 2003, 00:28
I would imagine that this would be fogotten by all non particpants, including PPrune by the end of the day.

Once again I underestimated the power of discussion within PPrune:(

G-Foxtrot Oscar 69
11th Dec 2003, 01:45
Seems to me that the AF Pilot turned a non event into a major incident?

After all a G/A no big probs and good practice. Isn't every landing a G/A you didn't initiliase?

And A/C on the landing RW is a minor problem but hey it happens. Tell that to PAX and they will "freak out".

I am inclined to agree that the truth the whole truth and nothing but would have been best in this situ as it is reported.

Just my 2 pennies worth for all it contributes.

11th Dec 2003, 02:09
The pilot should not unnecessarily alarm the passengers, I think we all agree on that. But to blame someone else, as this guy did, I believe is unethical. As many have suggested here, there are ways to make an announcement to the passengers in a way that is both truthful and reassuring.

11th Dec 2003, 03:25
And A/C on the landing RW is a minor problem but hey it happens. Tell that to PAX and they will "freak out".No one freaked out on the Delta L1011 that I was aboard when the pilot announced we were going around due to an aircraft on the runway. Was I a bit more concerned? Yes. Freaked out? No. Nor was anyone else, as far as I could tell.

11th Dec 2003, 07:10
The one go around I was in so far was also in ATL. It was a little unexpected, but that's all. Hope they're not trying to squeeze 'em in too much . . .

Anyway, the Captain came on shortly and blamed it on ATC. :}

11th Dec 2003, 10:54
Landing at Kai Tak some 10 years or so ago... The Cathay Pilot initiated a go around at last minute (over runway threshold).. in very bad weather and next to zero visibility (from the passengers window).... Once he had taken the necessary hard left turn and climbing..his announcement certainly put me at ease and most other passengers. "ladies and gentlemen, that was what we call in the industry a missed approach, we are just going to climb out of the weather, circle and wait for a clearance to land and try again.. apologies for "" etc etc....

I thought it was honest and imformational.. and put all at ease..

12th Dec 2003, 20:27
Had one/two into KEF a few years back... that is, on long final, storm cell over the field, boss decides to do an orbit. Not really sure what to call it, I think we were established but still quite a way out. 10 mins or so later, closer in, flaps halfway set but gear not down, storm cell hadn't really moved so spooled up & went round. Boss then just said that there was a storm cell over the field which was moving slowly and he preferred to just fly off for 20 mins or so until it had cleared the runway and that we had plenty of juice so we could stay up a while longer if necessary. Greased one on about 15 mins later.

Clear, concise, authoritative & made it clear he had safety first. No-one I could see looked at all worried. It's all in the delivery.

12th Dec 2003, 23:58
Better keep quiet in this kind of situation.
After that lock the cockpit door and remain there until all pax are disembarqued. :)

13th Dec 2003, 00:14
As professional aviators we all know that, if in any doubt, the correct course of action is to "Go Around".

No criticism of this crew's actions but isn't a lot of the froth and brew haha from the press, public etc a result of lack of faith in the system etc.? I am NOT saying this is justified and it would be interesting to ponder the reasons why this has come about.

It is one thing being a good captain/pilot in terms of flying the a/c etc but another to be able to present matters in a good light from a PR point of view. Even an incident/accident can be put in a better perspective if a statement is made, for example, "only the skill of the crew prevented what could have been a much more serious incident."

I do believe in telling pax the truth but you can also be economical with what you do tell them! If in doubt say nothing at all until you are really sure about what you are going to say!

13th Dec 2003, 20:38
I recently had to go-around at LHR. First time in 4 years.
ATC instructed the preceeding two aircraft to G/A because of FOD on the runway. They warned me (at about 4 miles) to expect to G/A also. So we were well prepared for it when instructed to G/A at about 1 NM.

After we got cleaned up and sorted out I made a PA to reassure the passengers. I told them the truth...debris on the runway which had to be cleared.

Later, when we landed, a colleague of mine who was paxing down the back came up to say hello. He told me that after I made the PA, some loudmouth in the row in front of him was telling everyone in the surrounding area that 'the pilot had to break off the landing because he was too fast and screwed it up...this happened to me before, he's just making that up about the debris'.

So in my view it really doesn't matter what you tell the pax. They'll believe what they want anyhow.

Just try not to sound like you aren't fully in control of the situation...thats all they need really.

13th Dec 2003, 22:25
On a slightly wider note, a friend of mine, non-pilot and not very interested in aviation, was telling me how he was on his way back from the eastern med (Cyprus IIRC) in a charter when the Capt pops up on the PA saying that the headwinds were such that they might have to land to pick up fuel, maybe in nothern Italy or southern France. Then half an hour later was saying that they thought that they would probably be alright. Then 20 mins later again that they would be landing in northern France and finally that they had been promised a quick approach so they would continue to Gatwick.

By this time everyone on board was scared shitless and he now checks before booking a holiday that he is not on that carrier.

so it is definitely possible to give far too much information!