Monday, March 03, 2008

Crosswind landing nonsense

Not sure which idea is dumber--a commercial airline pilot being hailed for successfully avoiding a crash after trying to make an approach with "150 mph crosswinds" or MSNBC blindly reporting that an airplane tried to make an approach in 150 mph crosswinds. Here's the video, which has been raging across the internet all day. I call BS!

First, it's entirely possible they meant 150 kilometers per hour, which would be about 93 mph. Generally, only hurricanes, tornadoes and micro-bursts from thunderstorms are capable of producing such powerful surface winds, although non-tropical storms at sea can sometimes approach those numbers. But even landing in a 90 mph wind normally = a crash.

The winds came from "Emma", a powerful low pressure storm system that pounded eastern Europe over the weekend (they name regular storms over there). According to CNN:
Wind gusts of up to 190 km/h (118 mph) -- the strength of a Category 3 hurricane -- were clocked in the higher elevations of Austria, Corriveau said..
So let's check reality here, if 155 mph occurred at that airport they would convert to 250 kp/h, which wasn't mentioned in the CNN story. Here's a story mentioning 155 kp/h, so maybe they transposed the numbers.

But wait. After a painstaking 5 minutes of Googling, a further review gets closer to the truth!
A Lufthansa jet struggled through 90 kilometer-per-hour (56 miles per hour) crosswinds on its approach into the Hamburg airport.
Let's see, MSNBC says 150 mph, Der Speigel says 56 mph. Need anymore reasons not to trust the Olbermann network? It's actually a relief, since the notion of an airline pilot trying to land in the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane is far too much to bear, especially since the tower must read them the latest wind speed BEFORE they decide to land. Landing in 50+ mph winds is tough enough, as can be seen.

By the way, nothing unusual about a crosswind landing, they happen every day around the world. Here's one:

Good thing they don't show live landing video to people sitting in the seats.


LASunsett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LASunsett said...

Let's see, MSNBC says 150 mph, Der Speigel says 56 mph. Need anymore reasons not to trust the Olbermann network?

Come on now AC. I think if you look hard enough, you'll find there is a consensus on this.


Debbie said...

Wasn't he just trying to "crab" the airplane onto the runway? A normal procedure in a cross wind. It wasn't pretty, but it looked like he could have landed, which would have been better than going up and trying it atain.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

Uncle Pavian said...

Not for nothing is it said, "No matter how thin you slice it, it's still baloney."

Debbie said...

After further viewing, he should have kept his right wing high and his left wing low as he approached the runway in the "crab".

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

A.C. McCloud said...

Exactly, Debbie. He was trying to crab an approach in some level of crosswind component. MSNBC acted like that alignment was CAUSED by the wind, not purposely done to mitigate for it. Besides that and and the 150 mph nonsense, they were correct!