Mastering The Crosswind Landing | Trouble With Crosswind Landing

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Mastering The Crosswind Landing | Trouble With Crosswind Landing

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Mastering The Crosswind Landing

In aviation, a crosswind landing is a landing maneuver in which a significant component of the prevailing wind is perpendicular to the runway center line.

Aircraft in flight are subject to the direction of the winds in which the aircraft is operating. For example, an aircraft in flight that is pointed directly north along its longitudinal axis will, generally, fly in that northerly direction. However, if there is a west wind, the actual track of the aircraft will be slightly to the east of north. If the aircraft were landing north on a north-south runway, it would need to compensate for this easterly drift caused by the west crosswind.

XB-52 performing a crab landing having nose pointed toward incoming wind, but undercarriage aligned along the runway

In situations where a crosswind is present, the aircraft will drift laterally as it approaches the runway. This drift poses significant safety issues because safe operation of the undercarriage requires the body and track of the aircraft to be aligned with the runway at touch down.

The landing gear designs of the “pioneer era” 1909 Bleriot XI, and the much later Cold War B-52 strategic jet heavy bomber, were designed and each built with an unusual feature to counteract the problem: with the B-52, all four of its landing gear bogies could be steered, allowing the aircraft to land with the wheels facing the direction of travel even if the nose was not pointed in the same direction.

The Bleriot XI had pivoting main gear legs, which passively allowed the main gear wheels to castor together about each of their vertical axes as a unit to allow small-angle crosswind landings, with bungee-cord loaded rigging members between the lower ends of the main wheel forks, to bring the wheels back to a “directly-ahead” orientation after touchdown.

If the crosswind landing is not executed safely, the aircraft may experience wingstrike, where a wing hits the runway.

Trouble With Crosswind Landing

Crosswind landings are one of the more challenging skills in the private pilot curriculum. To consistently land properly in a crosswind, a pilot must understand all of the forces acting on the aircraft, and how to counter them. When flying the aircraft on final approach with a prevailing crosswind, the first thing a pilot notices is that he or she must crab the aircraft into the wind in order to maintain a ground track that aligns with the runway. Of course, the aircraft cannot land with a crab, it’s longitudinal axis must be oriented parallel to the runway before touchdown. To do otherwise would put excess stress on the aircraft’s landing gear and tires while making the aircraft difficult to control.

Once the aircraft is on short final, the pilot must begin the process of correcting for the crosswind. The first step is to apply rudder align the aircraft’s longitudinal axis with the runway. Once the nose of the aircraft is pointing straight down the centerline, the aircraft will begin to drift downwind. To correct for this, use

aileron to bank the aircraft into the wind. Once the pilot has corrected for drift, the combination of aileron and rudder inputs will create substantial additional drag. Again, the pilot must correct for the aerodynamic changes inherent in this new configuration. In order to maintain the proper airspeed and glide path, it will be necessary to gently apply additional power.

As the aircraft enters ground effect, the surface of the earth will generate friction, reducing the effective crosswind. The pilot will need to reduce rudder slightly in order to compensate. At the same time, the pilot must reduce power and flare just as he or she would during a normal landing. The upwind wheel should touch down first, followed by the downwind wheel. The nose wheel should touch down gently after the two main wheels are on the runway.

There are two other things to consider when preparing for a crosswind landing. First, you should know your aircraft’s maximum demonstrated crosswind component. This information is available in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) of all aircraft. This figure represents the best efforts of the manufacturer’s test pilot during the certification process, and not all pilots will be able to safely match this performance. Another thing to consider is a technique that will help you to land in a strong crosswind; using less than full flaps.

Adding full flaps will contribute to the increased drag presented by both the rudder and aileron inputs. Full flaps will also make the aircraft more susceptible to the influence of the crosswind, requiring additional control inputs. It is for this reason that pilots will reduce flap inputs in a strong crosswind, in accordance with the aircraft’s POH.

By properly correcting for crosswind conditions, private pilots can safely land their aircraft while demonstrating their knowledge of the forces involved and how to correct for them.

That’s the much we can take on the topic “Mastering The Crosswind Landing | Trouble With Crosswind Landing”.

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