Who's Online

We have 2616 guests online

Live Traffic Feed

Life in the Skies

'A Local Bestseller!'

What Tony says
(See here)
and Book Launch video here
What others say

Les Posen

Yvonne Lee

Louisa Lim & Allan Koay

Aireen Omar, Asran & Bo Lingam

Latest Comment

Are there any height
hi sir.im 168 cm tall and im 18 years old.cn i be

Airbus versus Boeing
why is turbulence an issue of discomfort only? can

What do you think ab
any one can tellcfa is best or cfa is best beca

Ranking of Pilot Sch
hi captain, Can you please share your ideas about

What are the eyesigh
hello,ive got a problem with my eyesight too.i wan

Etihad Airways Cadet
I am from India.how to apply the cadet pilot train

What is the best rou
help me sir it is my dream to be a pilot fr

What is the best rou
sir,I want to tell you that i am studying in class

Ranking of Pilot Sch
How about IAANZ(international aviation academy new

What happens if I ge
My life was a hell caused by my panic attacks and

Paperback Version

 For Local Availability - Check Here
Home > Crosswinds > Could a plane land in the rain?
Could a plane land in the rain?
Weather - Crosswinds
Friday, 14 August 2009 16:17

Yes, a plane can land in the rain but a captain has to consider many factors before doing so. Most important of all, he must ensure that the rain does not adversely affect the visibility during the landing, the crosswind is within the limits and the braking action on the runway is at least suitable. If not, he must discontinue with the approach and divert to the alternate airport.

Generally, moderate rain does not have nearly as much impact on the visibility of the plane than as fog or snow do. The only real danger to flying in heavy rain is the fact that rain can be associated with severe weather.

Heavy rain has contributed to some accidents. The most recent major one was in July 2007. It involved a TAM Airlines Airbus A320 that crashed and burst into flames at one of Brazil’s busiest airport, killing at least 200 people. The plane skidded off the runway on landing during heavy rain, shot across a busy highway and crashed into several buildings.

On August 2005, an Air France Airbus A340 overran the runway at Toronto in heavy rain. The aircraft was destroyed in a post-accident fire. Miraculously, there were no casualties.

On September 23, 1999, a Qantas Airlines Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet arriving at Bangkok, Thailand after a flight from Sydney, Australia, ran off the runway while landing in heavy rain. All the passengers were safe.

All the accidents mentioned above took place whilst landing in rain. Of course, any crosswinds (where the surface wind blows from the side) would aggravate the landing further.

This combination of rain and crosswind is most dangerous during a landing or even on a take off. I remember an incident some years back in Shanghai where I refused to take off on a Boeing 777 because of this. It attracted a very amusing remark that was relayed to me. An irate passenger on my flight said, “How come that expat Boeing 777 pilot was able to take off whilst this (chicken) Asian pilot could not?”

Here is an extract of my previous article…

“Well, the very next day, we were caught by Typhoon Matsa whilst about to depart Shanghai. According to the forecast, the typhoon was heading towards the South Eastern part of the city. Thinking that the strong crosswind, gusting to 46 knots, would subside, we waited a little longer by delaying the departure. Instead, the wind continued to increase in intensity. In the end, I made up my mind (after conferring with my co-pilot) that we would not proceed as the force of the rain and cross wind had exceeded the limitations of the aircraft.

Interestingly, another Boeing 777 from a different airline, which was parked next to us left the departure gate and took off. This, of course angered the passengers who had been stranded at the lounge for several hours during the long delay. How could a similar plane take off whereas we could not?

It took me some pain to explain to my manager who appeared unconvinced until we found out over the radio that a United Airlines Boeing 747 and a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 had meekly returned after aborting their departures. I felt a sense of satisfaction to have had my hunch paid off as I felt strongly about the safety of my passengers. As such, we only departed 24 hours later when Typhoon Matsa had left Shanghai”

Furthermore, a wet and contaminated runway do pose further problems to a landing aircraft due to aquaplaning (or hydroplaning). Aquaplaning may reduce the effectiveness of wheel braking in aircraft on landing when it can cause it to run off the end of the runway. It is a condition that can exist when an aircraft is landed on a runway surface that is contaminated with water, slush or wet snow. It can have serious adverse effects on ground controllability as well as the braking efficiency.

How are planes tested to ensure they are able to land on wet runways?

Look at the video on how they tested the Airbus A380 as regards to aquaplaning plus another bonus video on how this plane was pushed to the limit and beyond to earn joint type certification from EASA and FAA in December 2006.

The Aquaplaning test on the Airbus A380

The test and certification of the Airbus A380


TrackBack URI for this entry

Comments (3)

Subscribe to this comment's feed
diff opinion
hi Capt Lim,

Great site, however i beg to diff on the 2nd para..rain does reduced the visibility even down to 0/0..
pilot , 22 Aug, 2009
ok mr pilot,if you carefully read that passage, it says"moderate rain",and yes moderate rain does not have adverse effects on visibility as compared to snow and fog...
capt Shel , 01 Jun, 2012
Hello, you have helped me lots with a project and I promise to cite this website correctly, but I have to say you ,my friend , are very gender biased next time consider the woman pilots...
unknown , 05 Mar, 2013

Write comment

smaller | bigger


Paperback Version

 For Local Availability - Check Here

Recommended By..


'A Local Bestseller!'

Recommended by

Patrick Smith
Boston USA

Capt Meryl Getline
ex-United Airlines USA

Capt Doug Morris
Canadian Airlines

Capt  Robert J Boser
ex-United Airlines USA

View Book Launch video here

Follow me


Like What You Read?

If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim or Facebook here

MH 370 Interviews

Click here to View

10 Most Popular Posts

30 Previous Posts

Disclaimer | Privacy
2004 - 2011 © AskCaptainLim.com | Site Concept by eQuilec.com