Missed Approach/Go Around Procedures


Apr 29, 2017
there has been a discussion among major airline pilots as to the appropriate/required procedure in executing a go-around / missed approach after being cleared for a visual approach. Hopefully, someone can weigh with an answer and appropriate reference chapter and verse.

Scenario: LAX- Visual conditions
C- Cleared for the ILS 25L approach.
-At Limma you have the field in sight and you notify ATC controller, who " clears you for the visual" and switches you to tower.
As luck would have it, tower frequency is completely clobbered and you cannot get a word in edge-wise, no matter how hard you try, even using guard. Your company SOP states " if no landing clearance by 500', execute a missed approach/go around.

so, the question is, does ATC expect you to fly the published missed approach for the ILS 25L or climb to 1500' AFE pattern altitude and go straight out over the water and reattempt contact with ATC approach/departure?

several years ago this scenario happened to me on a clear night into LAX. After we landed, we called the Tower Supervisor and had a cordial conversation and he stated that in lieu of no tower instructions the tower would expect you to fly the published missed approach instructions for the instrument approach that you were initially cleared. His answer made perfect sense to me as at least this is a known quantity and fulfills terrain/obstacle clearance requirements and I presume the procedure is plotted on a scope in the ATC facility as opposed to a visual go-around whose intention would only be known to the aircrew.

Though far-reaching, another example would be lost comm as you switch from the approach controller to the tower in a busy major airport on short -final, good chance that there won't be enough time for a light-gun in this scenario either so a pilot would be faced with a similar dilemma.

Thanks in advance for any clarity.


Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
There's no missed approach segment for a visual approach, and that's the last clearance you got. On the other hand, the tower controller should be trying to break through the frequency congestion and clear you to land as a priority over everything that isn't an emergency.

If that doesn't happen, I'd set up for the missed approach segment from the precision approach to that runway, if any, and then any other that does not require me to reverse course over the airport and presumably put me into the arrival flow. Meanwhile, I'd switch to the last approach control frequency I had, and explain that I couldn't get a landing clearance out of the tower because the frequency was too busy or somehow unavailable (this is a piece of information the finals controller will want). If I couldn't reach the tower or the finals controller, then I'd execute that missed approach and try the next-to-last approach control frequency or 121.5 until I got somebody. Believe me, you should be the center of attention, and they should be trying to contact you, not the other way around.


Senior Member
Feb 25, 2015
A visual approach is an ATC authorization for anaircraft on an IFR flight plan to proceed visually to theairport of intended landing; it is not an instrumentapproach procedure. Also, there is no missedapproach segment. An aircraft unable to complete avisual approach must be handled as any go-aroundand appropriate separation must be provided.


Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2008
Lakeville, MN
Few quick things.
Since you were last cleared for a visual, there is no missed approach. If you are going around on a visual, this is unusual at most places and the frequency will be all about you for a minute or two.
When cleared for an instrument approach, especially when a controller is busy or frequency congestion is present, is it normal for you to still report the field in sight?
I get that a visual gives you more feeedom, just curious if this is commonplace to do. Reason being, Many times the tower will already have the handoff on you with a label that you are on the ils, and that would just create more unneeded coordination between approach and local. Again, not wrong, just curious.

I am trying to find the reference for the visual, I think it was in the AIM that I saw it maybe back in my training days?
Going around on the visual happened fairly often at an apt I work at, usually pilot entered a right downwind, when busy, even on their own.