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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

747-400 Go Around Thrust!


Years ago, I was in the flight training portion of my check out on the Boeing 747-400 and we landing after a long flight from Tokyo, with 300 plus passengers.

I was flying from the right seat, my check airman was the pilot monitoring, and the augmented crew sat behind us—Four pilots working together to bring the aircraft safely to a landing. I was the new pilot, my captain and the captain in the jumpseat were both check airmen.

The tower departed aircraft in front of us, as we approached on final. As they rolled another plane onto the runway, I asked the guys, “Do you think we’re a little close?” My experienced instructors assured me that we were good. And they were right. We continued. Then ATC taxied yet another aircraft onto the runway. I said, “I don’t think…” and then ATC broke in and told us “... Go-Around.”

“Go around thrust, flaps fifteen, positive rate… gear up, heading select!” I moved the power forward and pressed the TOGA (Takeoff Go-Around power) button. We climbed, flew downwind for another landing and burned about 10,000 lbs of extra fuel. After touchdown ATC changed the runway direction due to the strong tailwind we experienced on both approaches.

Thankfully this type of experience in the flight deck is a non-event, because we are trained to follow procedures.

The question of “what does it feel like” was interesting. I had not thought about anything other than performing the task at hand. After the event, both captains told me they had never performed a missed approach in the actual aircraft before, in their combined 50 years of experience.

This is not a common occurrence in the big planes, but pilots practice numerous missed approach scenarios in their annual training events to make sure that they're prepared.

Pilot Technique:

Every approach I mentally prepare for the possibility of and talk through the missed-approach as part of my briefing. Not only where we'll navigate to and the altitude, but the procedure and sequence of power, gear, flaps, etc. I'm rehearsed and prepared in the unlikely event.

Do you have a technique that prepares you for the unexpected?

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene


  1. I'm impressed, Karlene. Thank goodness this kind of preparation is part of the process for pilots, and it's certainly a good way to think about challenging situations in general. Thanks for the inspiration! (p.s. it occurs to me that in non-flying parlance, this kind of thinking could be called 'down-to-earth' or 'grounded.' How ironic, except maybe for those landing situations!)

  2. Hi Karlene!
    I hope all is well ( I'm no longer using twitter, but still reading your blog everyday!)

    I can't wait to read your book! I've been almost as excited as you for the past year haha!

    I still remember asking you that question, and I am honoured to be in your book (although only I will know that). Hopefully I can send you my book and you can autograph it, or come on a book tour to Canada!

    And as far as my "flight to success", I am going to start flying this coming spring!

    I wish you all the best in life, this blog and your book!

    Happy flying!

    Pilot Tobe

    P.S. I know it has been a last time since we last talked...hopefully we can reconnect some day!

  3. On the flip side, as a controller I'm always considering what I'll do if an aircraft on final goes around. Every arrival I'm thinking about plan 'B' (or 'C', for that matter). And even if 95% of the time the answer is "Climb runway heading," the exercise means that I get tweaked to anything that might be out of the ordinary. This means that when it happens, I'm not fumbling for words or a plan.

  4. Thanks Linda! Yes... preparation for even our earthbound friends is essential. "down-to-earth" is excellent. But no pilot ever wants to be grounded.

  5. Pilot Tobe thank you for the comment! Yes... this was a great question. I was reviewing all my posts over the year. Tweeting them. And then a select few edited for new posting. Tomorrow... from the passenger perspective.

    I'm so excited for you to be flying! Keep me posted. Share pictures. I would love to follow you through the process. You're an inspiration!

    Oh...and expect my book in time for Christmas! :)

    Thanks so much for your support! I really appreciate it!

  6. Ryan, Thank you for the great comment! It's so comforting to know the people we depend on in the tower are prepared with their backup plan too. It really is a team to fly the plane safely. Not only in the flightdeck, but the support systems too. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Fred, I'm glad you're trying new things. Now we need to get you into a plane! :)

  8. Good story. I felt like I was there. I had my own POH. I took material out of the aircraft handbook, added my own, and made my own checklists which I adhered to. They made me feel more prepared. I made them, so I owned them, and knew all the checklists (and the other stuff I added) verbatim.

  9. Chats, That's great. You know... that is what will save you one day. Making your own training and study materials really is the key to learning them. I have notes on everything and always review them before I fly. Thanks for your comment!


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