Crosswinds are something that every pilot, crew member, and passenger has most likely experienced at least once. They are winds that come at aircraft on an angle during takeoff, flight, and approach. Crosswinds are the cause of turbulence, and they can affect flight operations, fuel burning, and the comfort of passengers. In this blog, we will discuss the various methods to plan for crosswinds and how they may affect flights.
One of the first methods would be to avoid crosswinds altogether, though it can sometimes prove easier said than done. Often, crews can look ahead for a few days of weather to plan how jet streams and weather may affect their flight. With planning ahead, revising overflight permits is much easier as it can be very difficult to do so the day of the flight. The predicting of jet streams and their movement has become very accurate over the past few years through the use of pibal balloons and pilot reports. With these, pilots can accurately calculate how crosswinds may affect them and plan accordingly.
Aircraft also have various amounts of crosswind that they can safely manage and these amounts are stated in the specific aircraft’s manual. Crosswinds that are 20 knots and lower will usually not have much effect on larger aircraft, but any over 30 knots should be taken into consideration when making flight plans.
While it may be a possibility to revise flight paths to avoid crosswinds during flight, there is little that can be done about the weather at the airport or landing strip of the destination. To prepare for this, pilots are usually trained on how to handle and operate in crosswinds, especially with landing procedures, as soon as they begin training on how to fly. Flight simulators are very useful for this type of training, and pilots are taught with the idea that if they do not feel comfortable with a landing, they should pull back into the air and retry their positioning.
Altogether, while crosswinds may not be particularly dangerous, pilots and crews take every step to ensure that their passengers are safe and comfortable during flight. While staying away from crosswinds may be the most preferable, avoidance can sometimes be very difficult. Nevertheless, there are many steps that can be taken alongside exceptional pilot training to ensure smooth operation.
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