The Boeing 777 Rejected Landing

While it’s far too early to determine the exact cause of EK521 ‘s demise, it’s perhaps germane to re-visit a topic that I wrote about in our Procedures and Techniques document quite some time ago – the Rejected Landing. As a reminder, the text of that entry into my tome is below, along with Boeing’s paragraph from the FCTM.

The Boeing text on this fairly unique maneuver is short and bland, and it provides little guidance. In no way does it hint at the hands and feet going everywhere this exercise can become when it’s taught to pilots during their initial simulator training onto the aircraft type. For this reason, when introducing the exercise to new crew transferring onto the 777, I’ll always ensure that each trainee has at least two goes at it: one to make the mistakes, one to learn and apply the lessons… and sometimes a third to turn it into a maneuver that holds no mystery and less challenge. That’s both the beauty and the trap of the simulator. It’s actually quite a challenge to introduce this maneuver into a simulated training environment in such a way that the sequence takes the pilots under training by surprise. However, you’re not really trying to do that in transition training anyway; the lesson plan in full is pre-briefed and the techniques and procedures that will be used in response to pre-programmed events are discussed at length so that everyone involved can get the most from their time in this expensive device.

But when it comes to training qualified line pilots, being able to instill parameters into a developing situation on an approach that will lead to a genuinely surprising need for a rejected landing maneuver is actually quite challenging. But that’s exactly what you need. When it comes to rejected landing, no line pilot is going to get a couple of goes at it to get it right… and when it comes the requirement to perform the maneuver well enough to get them clear of the ground will likely be a complete surprise.

A bounced landing in particular may well come off an unstable approach and therefore be a foreseeable incoming maneuver for the pilots concerned – but equally it can all go pear shaped in the last 100 ft with wind and temperature shifts that take a slightly less aware pilot into the runway with some force – and probably back up again. Then you’re firmly in the potential rejected landing regime.

In some ways – much like Asiana Flight AAR214 – it is often the case that automation doesn’t remain the predictably reliable friend to which we’ve become accustomed. Once the aircraft touches down the inherent automation paradigm is quickly slowing down and stopping. After a very short time on the ground the spoilers deploy up off the wings to spoil lift and push the aircraft down onto the wheels, where the automatic braking is just about to kick in.

The TO/GA switches that would have initiated a go-around only a few seconds before – commanding a pitch UP indication and an actual thrust increase – are now disabled until the aircraft registers airborne again. Thus the pilots who are heavily reliant on the relatively automatic response to the TO/GA switches may not get what they have been trained to expect by practice and preaching.

But it’s still a Boeing. Push the thrust levers forward and there will be thrust. Pull back on the controls and the aircraft will pitch up if there’s any airspeed at all – even if there’s not quite enough airspeed yet. There’ll still be enough lift to pitch up and start a pretty sprightly climb away from the ground.

But sometimes we forget that our aircraft is like any other. Pushing the buttons we’ve been told to push and waiting for the Flight Director to tell us what to do now is all part and parcel of of automation reliance or dependency.

Rejected Landing Procedure

A rejected landing is a maneuver performed when crew decide to action a go-around after the aircraft has touched down. The reasons for this are few, but included in them would be a late landing with potentially insufficient runway to complete the landing roll safely.

Note that this could occur after speed brake deployment, but prior to reverse thrust application. The application of the reversers commits the aircraft to the landing.

While the FCTM documents Go-Around after Touchdown (detailed in the image above), the following points should be noted about the Boeing procedure.

  • After touchdown, the TOGA switches will be inhibited – thrust application will be fully manual (maximum thrust should be used) and the flight directors will not give correct indications until the TOGA switches are used airborne.
  • Be aware that the stabilizer trim may not be set correctly and control forces may be unusual during rotation.
  • Speed brakes will stow and auto brakes will deactivate when the thrust levers are advanced.
  • A takeoff configuration warning may be generated as the thrust is advanced with landing flap.
  • Rotation should be called by the PM once airspeed has reached the approach VREF bugged speed, or when 2000 ft of runway is remaining (600m, where the runway edge lights become amber on an ICAO LVP OPS compliant runway)
  • Once airborne, the TOGA switches should be selected and the maneuver completed as a go-around through Go-Around, Flaps 20 Thrust / TOGA / TOGA Positive Rate Gear Up as documented in the Boeing NPs.
  • Crew are advised not to change flap selection on the runway as is the practice during pre-briefed touch and go landings.

Featured image sourced on Twitter.

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