It can be difficult for passengers or the public to have an accurate picture or understanding of an incident or activity and Airservices regularly receives calls on ‘irregular’ activities at airports. Examples of activity that the public may consider unusual or cause concern, but are part of normal operations, are listed here.

Ultimately, the pilot in command of an aircraft is responsible for the flight and can decide not to land or take-off from a runway at any point.

The pilot will make this decision based on factors such as:

  • aircraft safety, operation, navigation and communications
  • weather, including wind shear and reduced visibility
  • compliance with air traffic control clearances and instructions.

Go-arounds or missed approaches

A go-around, or missed approach (also sometimes referred to as an aborted landing), is a safe and well-practised manoeuvre that sees an aircraft discontinue its approach to the runway when landing. This standard manoeuvre does not constitute any sort of emergency or threat to safety, but may cause passengers or witnesses to become anxious.

During a go-around, a pilot will point the aircraft nose up, apply full take-off power to the engine(s), retract the landing gear and flaps and climb into the traffic pattern to circle around for another approach. A go-around may be initiated by the pilot or an air traffic controller.

Adverse weather conditions, including strong winds, experienced by the aircraft on final approach are the most common cause of go-arounds. Debris on the runway, an aircraft (or vehicle) that has not yet cleared the runway or an aircraft that has been slow to take-off may also prompt go-arounds .Pilots may also deliberately conduct a missed approach as part of training, although this is not usually done with passengers on board.

Aborted take-off

Similar to a go-around or missed approach, an aborted take-off is a procedure which sees an aircraft discontinue its take-off. Usually, it is a pilot’s decision to abort a take-off. Common causes include an engine malfunction or a bird strike.

Equipment calibration

Airservices conducts regular flight calibration inspections on about 500 navigational aids nationwide. This can involve a specially-equipped aircraft conducting numerous ‘missed approaches’ to test and calibrate equipment.