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2 min read

The Value in Being Prepared for a 'Missed Approach'

Some who follow our newsletter may recall that I’m a pilot and enjoy flying.

I need to participate in ongoing training to stay current with my license, and I was focused this month on my Instrument Rating competency.

For the non-pilots out there, the objective of this training is to become extremely comfortable landing the plane in little to no visibility conditions, relying only on the plane's instruments for guidance.

When you’re a non-professional pilot in California, bad visibility days are few and far between. Nevertheless, Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) rated pilots must keep their skills sharp, so they practice poor visibility landings and approaches.

Lesson From the Cockpit Changed My Mindset on Business Planning

As I was out flying with my instructor (who is an American Airlines Captain) we were chatting about missed approaches. A missed approach is when the visibility is so poor at an airport that you can’t make a safe landing.

We were discussing the missed approach procedure into Paso Robles, CA when he said something that will stay with me forever. He said that American Airlines teaches all pilots to assume they will NOT be able to land at the destination airport and that they will have to fly the missed approach procedure.

This is contrary to the average pilot’s training. Most of us plan to land; not plan to miss.

I found this statement so profound that it changed my mindset completely on landing in poor visibility and changed the way I think about business planning.

Planning for the "What If"

Most business executives and managers plan to succeed, thinking little about what happens if they don’t hit their goals.

With our business environment the way it is in 2020, it seems like external factors are popping up weekly and monthly that can change our direction and our plans.

The decisions and actions that come out of planning sessions can have lasting effects on employees and customers, as well as the business itself. Should we be thinking more about what will happen if our plans don’t pan out – if we have a missed approach?

The reason why pilots get IFR certified and why they need to be trained in missed approach procedures, is so that they’re better prepared for what might happen. You can’t always depend on the weather forecast or that you’ll never be faced with a situation when a safe landing isn’t possible.

The missed approach procedure gets you thinking about tactics that you can use to go around and try again without changing your goal, because the goal is still to land safely, even if it’s a different airport.

More than ever, it seems like thinking about the “missed approach” in business is a valuable process. Then it won’t be such a shock if we have to change tactics. We'll be prepared if our landing is different than we first envisioned.

Have a great November!


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