On Tuesday, March 7, WestJet flight 2652 from Toronto to St. Maarten executed a missed approach (go-around) at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) and was captured by local photographers and aircraft enthusiasts. The approach to SXM is a famous plane-spotting location because Maho Beach is located directly in front of the runway, giving aviation enthusiasts and tourists alike a very close view of landing aircraft.
Video and photos of the missed approached spawned articles with unfortunate and frankly, irresponsible headlines such as, “Near Miss” and “WestJet denies close call caught on camera at St. Maarten,” with some even speculating on a potential disaster that was averted.
We think it’s important to share with you what a missed approach means and how this “near miss” was anything but.
Every day our pilots safely land some 700 flights throughout our network of more than 100 destinations in over 20 different countries, many of which have unique weather and terrain. Occasionally a landing will be aborted and a missed approach initiated if the pilots determine it’s the best option. In this case, our crew experienced rapidly changing weather conditions and as a result descended below the normal glide path on the approach to the landing. The crew recognized the situation, and the regularly trained and desired outcome was obtained – a safe missed approach to a safe landing.
There can be any number of reasons why a go-around could be made. Weather or runway conditions may be less than ideal, or there may be other aircraft still on, or in the vicinity of, the runway. Regardless of the reason, pilots are trained to initiate a missed approach without hesitation, and go-arounds like the one executed last week at SXM – while not something we do every day – are also not uncommon. Relying on their skill, training and experience, our pilots who landed our Boeing 737-800 at SXM last week made the right call, and the process worked the way in which it’s intended.
All situations like this will have a fulsome review with learnings applied. Perspective is always helpful when you’re looking at a photo or video, or reading or hearing something in the news. Thanks for visiting our blog to get ours.