April 21, 2008 by Machteld A. Smith, Senior Editor
Folks, if you ever wondered how an airliner battles a landing in heavy crosswinds, take a look at this video. A classic “Never Again” story. What were the pilots thinking? Share your comments on this video and on AOPA Pilot editors’ crosswind stories posted here.
I cannot believe I am the first to comment. I would like to read others. But to me it looks like the pilot did everything right. You can see him “punch out the crab” just as he was about to touch down. At that moment he was hit by a gust. The gust lifted his downwind wing and blew him sideways. If there was an error it was just before that moment. He should have kept the downwind wing low with aileron movement, and increased aileron movement as he slowed.
However, being hit with the gust just at that moment, it would have taken almost superhuman effort to get the aileron right in advance. When he started drifting off the runway, he gave it fulll power. You can see the back blast on the side as he started his go-around. I believe this is a good instructive video on what to expect with a crosswind gust on landing and how to react to it.
It is hard to second guess what the exact weather conditions (wind) were at the time of this video. And granted, it looks as if they were doing everything correctly, except possibly they should not have been attempting to land at all. It would be interesting to know if the conditions at the time of this video exceeding the aircrafts cross wind capabilities.
The recovery from that approach was pretty miraculous – I thought for sure he was going to take out some runway lights along with his undercarriage.
I guess he deserves a lot of credit for saving the aircraft on the waveoff, but I didn’t think the overall approach was that good. His transition from the crab didn’t look that good, but giving him the benefit of the doubt perhaps there was a bad gust at that instant. I tend to transition from crab to “wing down top rudder” earlier than he did, to gauge whether or not it will be possible to track centerline without dipping the wing too much.
Most multiengine aircraft (especially 4 engine ones) have a bank limitation for landing to prevent dragging the outboard/upwind engine/prop and the max crosswind component limitation is based on that bank angle. Setting up earlier in the bank lets you compare your situation to the limitation to avoid the situation that guy got into – the crosswind component was probably out of limits for the aircraft.
That means the winds must have been outrageous. I remember landing at Luqa, Malta (LMML) in an advertised 45-gusting-60 crosswind component – beyond the crosswind limits for the aircraft I was flying, but the operating manual stated that if you could maintain centerline without exceeding max bank angle, the approach could be continued. We landed and shortly there after a Condor (Lufthansa charter subsidiary) 757 showed up to shoot touch-and-goes. They did about 10 VERY impressive circuits – on centerline, perfect technique, in max-component-crosswind conditions, just for training. We were REALLY impressed with their skill and airmanship, if not with their decision to do it in the first place. This guy was not in their class.
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