Airbus 320 Gone Wild

My colleague Christian Reinboth (Frischer Wind) sent me this amazing video. Christian says it has been circulating on the European YouTube circuit (which, from our American perspective could be known as “TheirTube“). It has been very windy in Europe lately, as you know from the amazing Wind Turbine Catastrophic Failure videos (Wind Turbines Gone Wild).

This is an Airbus 320 trying to land in a very strong cross wind:


This reminds me of the old Sesame Street skit “Can you see wind?” … maybe not, but if you are aerodynamic, the wind can certainly see you. That is some amazing flying. (Or should we say controlled buffeting?)

Comments

  1. #1 K.P.
    March 3, 2008

    I can only imagine what was going on inside the passenger area during this.

  2. #2 Liz
    March 3, 2008

    I am never ever ever going to complain when they tell me to put away the tray table and make sure the luggage is underneath the seat in front of me.

  3. #3 Maria
    March 3, 2008

    Wow, I was thinking the same as KP. It must have been awful inside that cabin…

  4. #4 Coturnix
    March 3, 2008

    Damn you! I hate flying anyway. I had one of these exact landings from Milwaukee to Raleigh last year and it was terrifying (no, I did not discover religion, but my knuckles were white). And I am now planning a year full of flying!

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    March 3, 2008

    Actually, it is a testament to the amazing design, rugged materials, skilled piloting, and redundant backup systems that characterize our Air Industry. Flying is the safest way to go!

  6. #6 McDawg
    March 3, 2008

    Amazing footage indeed. Thanks Greg.

    I very much agree with your comment. I did a lot of flying 2001 – 2005. Some small plane (30 seater) landings were done under high winds. Not looking out of the window is my suggestion if you are “scared” of (flying) landings.

  7. #7 StuV
    March 3, 2008

    The best part about these is always…

    …that they’ll do it all over again five minutes later!

    (And yes, I totally agree Greg)

  8. #8 McDawg
    March 3, 2008

    @StuV – Really ? WOW :0

    I’ve never been on a flight where like here, a landing attempt was aborted. If the gusts were as bad as can be “seen”, I would have thought they would have landed elsewhere rather than tying again at same ‘port.

    I know a couple of pilots and if I remember, I’ll quiz them next time I’m in touch with ‘em.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    March 3, 2008

    This is why (I am told) military pilots like to slam the plane hard on the runway, reducing the amount of time one can be floating around like a leaf. A moving plane with negative lift is a heavy object not likely to get blown away.

    A nice soft landing where you barely notice the wheels touching the ground is very dangerous. You want to SLAM into the ground, nice and firm.

    But not too hard. Too hard is bad too.

  10. #10 Spoilsport
    March 3, 2008

    The pilot should never have tried that. The wheels roll forward only, they don’t turn to compensate for wide angular aspects. What if he’d blown all the tires on one side? The plane would slam into the runway and break up.

  11. #11 kezdro
    March 3, 2008

    As for the military part: Yes, and imagine not only all of that, but doing it on a short carrier runway at high speed so if you miss the wire you have enough lift to do it again..

    (not an aviator myself, but the air force was for a while plotted on my career path)

  12. #12 tincture
    March 3, 2008

    WTF, this runway is all over the place!

  13. #13 Coturnix
    March 3, 2008

    Actually, the pilot of my flight into Raleigh slammed it hard onto the runway. It was a small plane, and that was probably the best thing to do at the time as we were just a toy for the wind and landing fast and firm felt like a good idea.

  14. #14 ekzept
    March 4, 2008

    Yeah, it happens. Alas, certain systems once proposed for the FAA, like the ASDE-X system (built by Sensis) once had rules which prevented it from properly assigning approach runway if the nose of the plane was more than 5 degrees antiparallel with it. Thus, if a plane were landing in a crosswind, and if there were traffic on the runway, ASDE-X would have never alerted on it.

  15. #15 laurisa
    March 4, 2008

    I took flying lessons this summer and that’s one of the charts you need to know how to read, the crosswind factor.

    That one right there is scary. But planes are common mode of transportation in Alaska. Aborted landings get your attention but when the oxygen masks pop out, that’s when Houston we have a problem.

  16. #16 HerkDriver
    March 4, 2008

    Quote KP: “I can only imagine what was going on inside the passenger area during this.”

    That might not be as scary as what was going on in the head of the pilot during this!

    Spoilsport: certain large aircraft are specifically designed to land in a “crab,” i.e. the wheels can handle not being aligned perfectly with the direction of movement. In fact, in many large aircraft with under-wing nacelles/pods, this is the required way to land in crosswinds.

    Greg: It is not correct to say military pilots like to slam the plane onto the ground. If you are landing on an aircraft carrier, I suppose that’s mandatory (I dont land on aircraft carriers). But we don’t like compressing our spines, either. Note also, that a huge number of civilian pilots are also military pilots in the reserves.

    During a high-crosswind landing, flare should typically be minimized or not performed at all, and a “firm” touchdown (not a “slam”, though it may feel like that depending on where you sit) is appropriate. The slower you go, the more nose-up you are (both happen in the flare), the more susceptible you are to wind. And in this configuration, it is often the strong, unpredictable gusts that will get ya.

    During normal wind conditions there is absolutely nothing particularly dangerous about a gentle, greased-on landing.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    March 4, 2008

    HerkDriver: I was told this by a former military pilot then working commercial, and I think what you are saying agrees with this. His point was that typical commercial passengers think a hard hit on the runway is a bad landing, and a nice soft landing that you can’t even feel is a good landing, and that he felt commercial pilots were being inappropriately encouraged to land a plane in a way that made the passengers feel good about the landing even when he, as an experienced pilot, knew better.

    We can argue about the words “hard” and “slam” but I think you get my point. Thanks very much for the additional information.

    I’ve often wondered about this, maybe you can address it: One time I was in a commercial plane, I think an airbus, landing from overseas in NY or Boston. I noticed that on approach, for a very log time, there was a LOT of adjustment going on. I could hear the little motors or hydraulics or whatever constantly adjusting the flight control services, and the plane was making many little tilts and adjustments in its three dimensional orientation. There was virtually not noticeable turbulence.

    When we landed, the pilot came on and explained that this was an entirely computer controlled landing.

    What occurred to me was that a human may make far fewer adjustments for any one of a number of reasons than a computer on the same landing. Does that make sense?

  18. #18 Wayne Farmer
    March 7, 2008

    Greg said:
    “What occurred to me was that a human may make far fewer adjustments for any one of a number of reasons than a computer on the same landing. Does that make sense?”

    Yes, if the computer program is not as experienced and savvy as the pilot. I’ve programmed control systems (although not for avionics) and it sounds to me as if the automated landing program was either getting faulty sensor readings, or it was underreacting or overreacting to valid sensor readings, so that it was constantly making adjustments to its flight control surfaces (and probably engine throttle as well) to get the aircraft back into position for landing.