NTSB concerned about go-arounds

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board wants the FAA to modify its procedures for directing traffic around major airports. This is to reduce the possibility of mid-air collisions when a landing aircraft must conduct a go-around.

Five incidents involving departing aircraft and go-arounds were studied by the NTSB. In each case the crews had to take evasive actions to avoid collisions. In those five incidents, the aircraft that had initiated the go-around was put into the flightpath of another aircraft either arriving or departing from a different runway at the same airport.

Taking evasive action at low altitude and high closing speeds can be hazardous, the NTSB says, by putting the crew of the aircraft performing the go-around into a position of taking action at dangerous times of low altitudes and usually slower air speeds. Current separation standards and operating procedures are not adequate and need to be revised, the NTSB letter to the FAA noted.

Incidents studied by the NTSB included three at Las Vegas McCarran Airport, one at New York’s Kennedy Airport, and another at Charlotte-Douglas Airport in North Carolina. All five are international facilities. One of the incidents at McCarran Airport involved a Spirit Airlines A-319 and a Cessna Citation that was on a short final for landing on a runway different from the departing A-319. The two aircraft came within about 1,300 feet laterally and 100 feet vertically from each other.

Another at the Las Vegas airport involved a JetBlue Airways A-320 and a Learjet 60. The Learjet was departing from a different airport than the one the A-320 was approaching. They came within about 1,800 feet laterally and 100 feet vertically to each other.

Incidents studied at the other airports involved two airliners.

Current FAA procedures are specific about separations between aircraft departing from different runways that have intersecting flightpaths. The procedures, however, do not prohibit controllers from clearing an airplane to land at a time when it would create a potential hazard if the landing aircraft needed to make a go-around.

The FAA has not made any statements about the recommendation.


  1. says

    I’ve always felt that stacking aircraft circling around an airfield has seemed to be backwards. The pattern should be over to one side of the runways. That would allow departing and aborting aircraft to fly straight ahead or turn away from the pattern of descending aircraft.

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