How to investigate an airline/airport go around?
September 16, 2012 1:32 PM   Subscribe

How can I learn what caused an apparent aborted landing and go-around at DFW airport today?

I live near DFW Airport and at 1:30pm CT today I saw an American Airlines 757(?) do a go around when approaching the airport for a landing on 13R. How can I find out details about what happened? Does the airport/airline have to report it to FAA? Weather is overcast with light rain. No severe weather. If I had to guess, I would say the plane was probably a 200-300ft altitude when it started go around.
Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by punkfloyd to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've seen questions like this answered on the FlyerTalk American Airlines forum. There is a high chance that someone who witnessed this will see it. There are also multiple AA employees there who can look up irregularities in AA's computer systems.
posted by grouse at 1:42 PM on September 16, 2012

If you are really interested, I would try and find the commentary on (, but go-arounds happen every day at every airport, and are nothing out of the ordinary. Probably separation with the plane that landed just ahead.
posted by scolbath at 1:43 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by scolbath at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2012

It happens for a pretty wide variety of reasons and is a fairly routine matter. I'd try to pull the air traffic control tapes from the Live ATC archives if available. Listen to the tower traffic for the relevant time and see what you can dig up. Their forums are a great resource too if you can't find it on your own. is another good resource where you could ask about this.

The FAA will already know about the situation through air traffic control (I believe missed approaches are recorded in the tower facility log). The crew might make a report to ASRS or possibly directly to the FAA if a major safety concern was involved or the crew wanted to protect themselves from any possible future FAA enforcement action as a result of the event. If the event was fairly routine and everyone handled it "by the book," then there may well be no further report filed. Aircraft go-around all the time for wind-sheer, wake turbulence encounters, other air traffic/ground traffic, contamination on the runway, low visibility, straight up pilot error, and a host of other reasons.
posted by zachlipton at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Echoing scolbath and zachlipton...on my last plane trip (flying into O'Hare), we were seconds away from touchdown when the landing was aborted and we flew back around. Another plane still on the runway was too close, according to the pilot.
posted by puritycontrol at 1:48 PM on September 16, 2012

I've had one of these - the pilot referred to it as a 'missed approach'. In our case, the crew had an indicator in the cockpit that resulted in some uncertainty as to whether or not the landing gear had fully extended. The landing was aborted and we flew off into some pattern while they ran through various checklists. Having finished, we did a low-level pass near the ATL tower so that the controllers could visually confirm that everything looked good. We then did a hard turn and a quick landing. It was...interesting, to say the least.
posted by jquinby at 1:57 PM on September 16, 2012

The incident flight was American 2428, you can see the loop it did on flightaware.

Everyone else has been spot on, the answer lies in the ATC tapes, and you have a good chance of finding recordings of major airports on LiveATC. I looked around for it, found the recording where AAL2428 initially contacts the tower on approach and is cleared to land, but then the recording splits to another file at 1:30pm, and that file is corrupted! So unfortunately that doesn't seem like it's going to work.

If it's something significant, it'll appear on The Aviation Herald, but given the short length of time between the initial go-around and the final landing, I'm betting it's nothing major (probably not a hardware failure).
posted by kiltedtaco at 2:10 PM on September 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

As killedtaco mentioned, avherald is where anything serious will show up -- but they sometimes miss things (I've reported stories they've missed before to them) so if you can find a 3rd hand account of the go-around, such as this thread, you can send them an email via the contact page and they'll figure out the rest of it. The editor of avherald has been trying to pay a lot more attention to missed approaches, separation failures such as what puritycontrol mentioned, and go-arounds recently.
posted by SpecialK at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2012

Just to clarify this is a perfectly 'normal' maneuver. While there would be records about it, it is not something that would be reported to the FAA or investigated unless the go-around was only a symptom of some other more significant issue. Generally it is a symptom of an alert and safety conscious flight crew who noticed that everything leading up to that point hadn't been quite perfect for landing and decided to just line things up a second time as a precaution.
posted by meinvt at 2:23 PM on September 16, 2012

Also, if the flight is running early, the flight crew may use that opportunity to *practice* a go-around.
posted by jrockway at 2:51 PM on September 16, 2012

Just to clarify this is a perfectly 'normal' maneuver.

This right here.

It's so commonplace that there might not be any easy to gather 'civilian' data. Even though we are currently in a time and place where I can find extraordinary amounts of publicly available flight data, which is awesome.
posted by Sphinx at 3:39 PM on September 16, 2012

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