June was the month for go-arounds. This may sound hard to believe, but that was my first go-around in part 121 ops. I’ve been flying for over two years now. You’d think I would have done one or two already.
This one in particular was extra interesting. It was night VMC. FO was flying. We were picking up the backcourse localizer. The FO looked at me and said, “Uh…Help me out here.” At that point, I didn’t even bother trying to explain what was going on or what we should do. We were below 2000 feet and descending. I just took the controls and executed an early missed approach.
You may be thinking, “You went missed on an ILS during night VMC? Couldn’t you see the runway?” And I wouldn’t fault you for that. The thing is that our company policy requires us to track an approach to the runway of intended landing at night, no matter what. I’m told that this policy was added to our FOM because years ago a flight flew dangerously close to the ground on a night visual approach in VMC.
The common argument I hear most from pilots about this policy is, “So, it’s safer to go missed in a jet than it is to land at night?” I understand the argument, but I’m not here to go against the grain. If I don’t agree with something, I’ll take it up with the manager of flight ops while I’m safely on the ground. I’m not going to go rogue, in flight, but this is all beside the point. We went missed, at night, and there was a transfer of controls before that happened, and it was the first one that I had ever done outside of the sim. We switched the approach to an RNAV and carried on as normal.
I went around one more time in June, but that one wasn’t as interesting as the first.