Aborted Landings Linked to Flight Instruction
(Berserkly News Network) Oakland, California -- While veteran flight instructor John Ewing was supervising his student pilot's landing practicing today, he instructed him to "go around." In that moment, Ewing had no idea of the controversy that was to follow. In the wake of recent high-profile aborted landings, first of the plane carrying First Lady Michelle Obama on April 19 and then Air Force One today, FAA administrator Randy Babbitt announced that he has instructed all FAA personnel to record and report each and every go-around that occurs. Babbitt, under increased pressure, wants to reassure the public that pilots really do know how to land their aircraft.
"When an aircraft has been cleared to land, we expect them to land, dammit!" Mr. Babbitt said. "The US government didn't authorize the creation of all those runways just so pilots could fly around in circles without landing."As soon as the order came down, tower controllers around the country began to complain. "This is like being asked to count all the fish in the sea," complained one Oakland Metropolitan Airport controller, who asked not to be identified. "How are we supposed to ensure the orderly flow of air traffic when we're filling out paperwork each time an aircraft goes around?"Right after Ewing's student informed the Oakland Tower of their intentions to abandon the landing, all hell broke loose. "The tower told us to make right traffic and that we were cleared to land on 27 right, no ifs, ands or buts" Ewing stated. "We reminded them that we were practicing touch-and-goes, but they just repeated the clearance to land," Ewing said. "After my student landed, the ground controller said they had a phone number for us to call." What followed was the nightmare every pilot dreads."They interviewed me, they inspected the aircraft and my certificates, they asked why we went around, and I tried to tell them that my student's approach was destabilized. I was just teaching him to do the safe thing," Ewing said "but they said all these go-arounds indicated instructors like me were doing a piss-poor job." In the end, Ewing was exonerated and allowed to continue to teach the go-around maneuver. "The go-around is in the private pilot practical test standards," Ewing observed. "I mean, for crying out loud."But the controversy surrounding go-arounds hasn't ended. Babbitt, under intense scrutiny, announced NextGen will be modified to automatically record data on each and every go-around or missed approach. In addition, each and every landing made by any pilot will be rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Pilots executing an excessive number of go arounds as well as those who don't consistently perform flawless landings will be automatically notified that they must undergo remedial training. Cost estimates for adding these features to NextGen were unavailable. NextGen implementation has been delayed, but is slated for roll-out sometime in 2095.All of this hasn't deterred Ewing from continuing to teach student pilots how to fly. "Sure, I could throw in the towel and go work for Starbucks," Ewing said, "but then I'd have health care benefits. Besides, I'd just be watching espresso magically come out of a machine without any grinding or tamping of coffee whatsoever. Where's the fun in that?"