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Go Around or Rejected Landing

These are practiced regularly in the simulator yet can cause startle and other natural physiological effects when performed in an actual aircraft. A rejected or baulked landing is by nature a last-minute procedure and, given it takes place below the Missed Approach Point, unlike a Go Around it does not guarantee terrain clearance. Dealing with the event and following training does not prepare you for the aftermath of emotion following possible startle effect and limbic hijack.

  1. Effective threat based briefing and mental rehearsals combining touch drills will help the brain and body deal with the actual go around and rejected landing
  2. Some startle effect is to be expected with associated increased levels stress hormones and their bodily responses eg increased heart rate, sweating, feelings of unease this is a perfectly normal physiological response.  
  3.  In the short term you will need to breathe slowly and disperse the stress hormones released into your body.
  4. The body and the brain keep score of these events and will store the physiological effects as a pattern in the amygdala. It is possible to receive the same bloom of stress hormone in a subsequent approach which the body thinks may result in a similar outcome. This is natural and will dissipate with exposures post event. 
  5. In the medium to long term subsequent episodic blooms of stress should not alarm you and can be prepared for mentally. Prior to approaches concentrate on breathing slowly through the nasal passages, if possible, for a minimum of 4 seconds in and out.
  6. Mentally rehearse always for go arounds rejected landings on every approach. This is good practice but will also help dissipate any residual stress response from the initial event as it normalises the procedure, mentally preparing the brain and body. 
  7. If you experience subsequent repeated bouts of stress on approach it may be necessary to seek professional support often via signposting from your peer support programme. This will help you process the event and prevent it affecting future performance. 

Some residual effects on the brain and body are to be anticipated and expected following any unusual event. If these do not diminish with time then professional help should always be sought at early onset, help is always available. The human brain is still not evolved for aviation and as such we need to be especially self-aware as license holders of our own limitations and vulnerabilities.

If you or a loved one is in immediate crisis...