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Home > Flying the Plane > How do you execute a safe crosswind landing on a multi-engine aircraft?
How do you execute a safe crosswind landing on a multi-engine aircraft?
Flying - Flying the Plane
Saturday, 26 April 2008 04:01

Dear Captain Lim,

How do you execute a safe crosswind landing on a multi-engine aircraft? Does it involve manipulating the throttles on top of applying cross controls in order for the aircraft to 'crab' on the approach? And how do you judge as to when you would round off just before touching down? Is there a decision height that is used as a reference for rounding off?

The reason as to why I'm asking this question is because of the video that was aired on YouTube on Flight LH404 that attempted to land at Hamburg.

I really appreciate it if you could explain as to what was the mistake that the pilot in command made while attempting to land and how should it be properly done.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my queries and many thanks for having this wonderful website!



Hi Heikal,

Yes, I saw the dramatic landing of the Lufthansa Airbus A320 at Hamburg on the video. At first, it was erroneously reported in the local newspapers that the plane landed in winds that were more than 100 kph. That was way beyond the limit of what the plane is capable of doing. The maximum demonstrated crosswind guidelines for that plane is 33 knots on a dry runway (38 knots with gust). Anything above that, pilots should not attempt the landing.

In order to perform a safe crosswind landing, special techniques are required. There are two recommended methods:-

a. The crabbed approach with wings level - that is, applying a drift correction in order to track the runway centerline.

b. The sideslip approach - using a combination of into-wind aileron and opposite rudder to correct the drift with the aircraft fuselage aligned with the runway centerline.

Basically, for both the above techniques - in order to minimize the loads on the main landing gear during the flare, rudder should be applied as required to align the aircraft with the runway heading. Any tendency to roll downwind should be counteracted by an appropriate input on the sidestick (as for the Airbus latest planes or control column in the case of Boeing aircraft)

The power is generally controlled by the auto thrust until 20 feet (not a decision height as what you might think) when an auto call out "RETARD! RETARD!" comes on. The pilot may delay retarding the throttles a little if he senses a rapid sink due to gusty winds. Thereafter, the landing flare is performed at a normal height and with a normal pitch rate for the aircraft type.

I am not sure of the exact strength of the crosswind when Flight 404 landed at Hamburg airport. If it had exceeded the limit of the plane, then the pilot should not have attempted the landing. From the video, the plane's wings were level and all of a sudden the left wing struck the runway. It happened very fast. If the pilot was slow to counteract with the side stick and if the wind or gust was too strong, that would be the consequence of attempting to land in such a condition.

See the video on the Airbus A320 landing in strong crosswind below:-

Lufthansa Airbus A320 landing in strong crosswind


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Crazy Germans
Hi. I am positive that the wind exceeded the limits for the aircraft. This situation is quite frequent with sidestick airplanes (wonder why). The most responsible way is to go-around and if fuel sufices hold and retry approach, otherwise, proceed to alternate.!
John , 14 May, 2010
Come in hot and hard
Grumble , 03 Jun, 2011

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