Crosswind

CROSS WIND APPROACHES & LANDINGS

There are several “techniques” suggested for cross-wind landings;

  • The least appropriate being making the final approach directly into wind to the threshold and then straightening up at the last moment, to intercept the centreline – great when there are no obstacles and no other traffic. Suggest you only practice this at your own private strip.  (this method was taught in the USA by several instructors)
  • The wing down technique which involves slipping the aircraft into the (cross) wind component to maintain a  (2 mile?) centre line. Difficult unless you have a steady cross-wind ie. no obstacles like trees and hedges or terrain along the windward side of your approach path. Also uncomfortable for passengers as the aircraft is out of balance. Most GA. aircraft are slow to respond in the “rolling plane” so in turbulence, usually guaranteed with crosswind, it becomes difficult to fly a constant approach path. Even though the aircraft is following the centerline, if you have a crosswind from the right you will be sitting higher at round-out making it more difficult to judge height for this critical manoeuvre.
  • Crosswind landingThe “crabbing in” method is the same as the difference between Heading (Hdg) and Track (Tr) in navigation with the added advantage of a runway extended centerline as your track reference. This is how “centerline tracking” is maintained on an Instrument approach (eg ILS) in all aircraft. So why be different. Further with the crab method the rudder remains the main control and it is extremely effective being in the slipstream. Yawing the aircraft straight down the centerline at moment of “flaring” is critical but the centrifugal force created will keep the aircraft on the centerline for a few seconds allowing you to lower the wing into wind. In a B747 you don’t even have to do that as it will take up to 25deg on the undercart. Don’t try it on the normal Cessna or Piper however.
  • Considerations in using my preferred technique: Due to the change in aerodynamics by crossing controls, this manoeuvre should be carried out close to the ground, ideally as part of the round out.
  • Due to the gusty conditions frequently encountered with crosswind it may be prudent to add half the anticipated gust speed to your approach speed. eg. wind 25 -35 represents a 10 kt gust, so add 5 knots and allow for a greater landing distance accordingly.

Happy landings: Remember the landing isn’t complete until the aircraft is tied down or in the hangar.

Author: Stan van de Wiel

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