Going around at London Heathrow

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 in Blog | Leave a comment

I recently had my first go-around on a commercial aircraft. Due to the pilots’ announcements on the PA before and during the flight I decided to film the last 2 minutes of our approach. This resulted in getting our go-around on video.

On February 5, I was flying to London Heathrow on KLM. We had an initial slot-related delay of 20 minutes. This was due to strong winds and traffic at Heathrow. I grabbed my phone and my weather app showed a forecast with winds from 19022G38Kt to 20025G48kt. In normal English; the winds came from direction 190-200 (degrees, so from the South-SSW) with speeds between 22-25 knots and gusts up to 48 knots.

Since Heathrow only has 2 parallel runways in the direction 09/27, we would have to land with quite some crosswind. A quick calculation reveals that the worst case scenario crosswind component would be 22-25 knots (with gusts up to 48kt). The pilots had explained the weather situation over the PA and informed us that we had enough fuel for go-around and a possible diversion.

The flight itself was uneventful, there was quite some sun, some broken clouds and London could be seen down below. We had to make one full holding over Lambourne before we were allowed to make our approach for Heathrows 27L. The crew made an announcement over the PA that the winds were just within limits and that we would continue to do the approach. I decided to start filming, as I had a feeling it could end up in a go-around (also keeping in mind what the pilots said before departure from Amsterdam).

The whole approach was indeed quite bumpy, but I felt like we would make it just fine. Then a few seconds later we were almost down on the runway when we went into a go-around after all, a strong gust of wind just before touchdown had destabilized the end of the approach. My first go-around in a commercial airplane was a fact! I have to say it wasn’t that eventful, but nice and interesting to see, it all went very smoothly as you can see in the video.

The crew kept us informed all the way with what was happening, something that I definately appreciated and I think many people with me. The second approach felt even more bumpy, but was successful.


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