Seems like a good time to write this as I’m sat in my house listening to gale force winds hammer the windows outside! Makes me want to go flying!
Strong winds can cause some ‘exciting’ take-offs and landings. At lower levels, wind can cause the aircraft to sway back and forth, but the pilots are well trained for this.
As always, airlines and airports will have wind speed limits. If the wind is too strong they will choose not to land or take-off. Simple as that! Aircraft are designed to be able to fly in stronger winds than you may think – and although landings can seem scary in these conditions, they are not.
Aircraft land into the wind, as this allows the aircraft to slow down and eventually stop on the runway. If you ever experience a landing in strong winds, do not be alarmed. Rest assured that the pilot knows exactly how strong the wind is, and how to land the plane safely.
If at any time the wind becomes too strong, and he/she becomes unhappy with the conditions then a go-around will be instigated – and possibly a diversion to a nearby airport where the wind is not as strong.
NB: All aircraft carry more fuel than they need for the flight in case of bad weather conditions. We need enough to allow us to circle (in what’s called a holding pattern), or possibly divert to another airport.
Crosswinds is a term used when the wind is blowing across the runway (rather than down it). Planes are thoroughly tested in strong crosswinds. Here is a quick video for you;
It’s important to note that it’s not likely that a commercial aircraft will land in crosswinds as strong as shown in the video. But, the aircraft must be able to land in extreme conditions before being given a certificate allowing it to fly passengers.
I’m sure you noticed the planes coming in almost sideways. This is normal procedure in crosswind landings so do not be alarmed.
In summary, it’s perfectly safe to fly in strong wind. The aircraft can handle it, and the pilots are well trained to do so. Just expect it to be a little bumpy during take-off and landing. But, there is nothing to be scared of. Your safety is never compromised.