WATCH: United Boeing 767 UNSTABLE Landing and DRAMATIC Late Go Around

WATCH: United Boeing 767 UNSTABLE Landing and DRAMATIC Late Go Around

In the pilot world, we have a saying for when the aircraft gets out of hand: Unstable. Pilots are taught how to deal with unstable approaches and landings by escaping out of the maneuver and resetting to try again. Usually that involves declaring a go around and coming back in for a stable approach. However, this United Boeing 767 crew seemed to have some difficulty with the going around part.

What we see in this video is quite unusual, and you don't see it happen many times in aviation. The video starts with what seems like a nice approach into Zurich Airport, but once the wheels hit the ground the plane bounces, then bounces again, and finally they get all the wheels on the ground. However, instead of putting on the breaks the plane powers up and does a very, VERY late go around.

During the rejected landing you see the aircraft pitch up, but it doesn't have enough speed to takeoff so the nose pitches to an extreme angle and almost tail strikes the aircraft.

Instead of trying to stop, you see the aircraft plant all three gear on the ground to gain enough speed to go around again. Judging by the video, they used every inch of Zurich's runway to take off again and execute the go around.

What Happened?

The sort of maneuvers you see in the video isn't something you see very often. My best guess on what happened is that the flight was coming in quite fast and high on the approach, as you can tell by the first touchdown beyond the touchdown markers. Then, when the flight finally hit the ground, the pilot pulled up too hard on the first touch-down and gained enough momentum to become momentarily airborne before crashing down again.

Photo by Tim Gouw

The sink rate of the aircraft pushed the aircraft back up again and did a few more bounces. You can tell as soon as they pitched the nose up they tried to go around, but by then they had lost too much airspeed and couldn't become airborne again.

Instead of trying to stop the aircraft, they committed to the go-around and decided to plant the wheels on the ground to get enough speed to take off again. This used up a lot of runway, and they took off just before the threshold of the runway for the go around.

What would you do?

Would I have done anything differently? Possibly.

I would have committed to stopping on the runway after I realized I didn't have the initial speed to go around. However, if I didn't think I had enough runway left, I would have done everything in my power to get the aircraft back in the air.

Final Thoughts

While the scene was dramatic and scary looking, pilots are taught how to deal with anything that might come their way, whether it be rejected landings or unstable approaches. United has been plagued with bad press lately, and scenes like this doesn't instill confidence in the airline. With the mass hiring boom post-pandemic, there are a lot of young and inexperienced pilots in the flight decks of widebody aircraft. But these pilots still have thousands of hours in the cockpit and go in for regular training on scenarios just like this.

I could see a scenario like this being put into a training and learning moment for future pilots.