As the UK is currently experiencing the worst storm of the year so far, with winds gusting at 75-90mph I felt it necessary to add a quick (and unplanned) article on the subject of flying in strong winds.
As with any bad weather there are strict procedures, and regulations that must be adhered to to ensure that flying remains safe. With regards to wind, the direction is an important factor. With wind blowing down the runway, there is not too much of an effect – except a bumpy take-off and landing.
If the wind is blowing ACROSS the runway (known as a crosswind), flights can be delayed or even cancelled. Each aircraft type has a ‘crosswind limit’ – which is the strength of wind the plane is certified to land in. If the wind speed exceeds this limit, the flight will not take-off or land.
Further to this, airlines and airports will have their own limits which may be more strict than is required by aviation authorities. The important fact is this; No aircraft will land or take-off in wind that is too strong.
Remember the ‘just in case’ principle. An aircraft may be able to land in 30mph cross winds, but the airlines may impose a limit of 20mph (windspeed figures I’ve used are just for example purposes). This is because the aviation industry is always acting to ensure safety, and will never compromise it for operational gain – and I mean NEVER!
Aircraft limits are based on testing completed by highly trained test pilots – and you can see a video of this here.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is landing in crosswind dangerous?
No, for the reasons I’ve stated above. Aircraft have crosswind limits that are strictly adhered to at all times.
- Do pilots need special training to land in strong winds?
No, all pilots are fully trained to land in string winds, and it takes no more effort than any other landing – so I’m told!
Take-off and landing in strong wind will be bumpy, but is perfectly safe. If conditions are not safe, then the flight will not leave (or may be diverted to a different airport).
Any questions? Post them below and I will answer them for you if I can. Happy flying!