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Old Dec 1, 06, 7:32 am   #1
 
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Wind speed and taking off...

Is there any particular wind speed that would automatically close an airport? We are expected to have 40-60mph gusts this afternoon/evening... course the problem is, we are supposed to fly out of BOS at 7:00pm bound for DFW... So will the airport automatically close or the airlines automatically cancel should the winds be, lets say a sustained 50mph?
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Old Dec 1, 06, 7:36 am   #2
 
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a lot depends on wind direction. Crosswind bad, wind blowing right down the runway good.
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Old Dec 1, 06, 7:37 am   #3
 
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Oh my, is there any way for a pax to figure that out in advance?
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Old Dec 1, 06, 7:43 am   #4
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In a word, no. Weather prediction is still as much art as science. But steady winds are not as bad as gusty winds, and crosswinds are not as good as those aligned with runways. Larger aircraft are less susceptible to these than smaller a/c; yesterday I flew around Northern California to do some jobs in a Beech KingAir C90 (turboprop twin engine) - perfect weather yesterday, but it wouldn't handle winds a 767 might be able to deal with, but can cope easily with stuff a Cessna 150 might not handle at all. But 40 - 60 kt gusts? Be prepared to make alternate plans - e.g. an earlier (assuming you can and there are seats) or delayed departure if you want to fly, IMO.
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Old Dec 1, 06, 7:46 am   #5
 
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Thanks JDiver, not exactly what I wanted to hear, because these are supposed to be gusty...

There's a 5pm flight with some seats on it, but I don't think we'll make it in in time... we're going to try, we're picking up the kids at 2:45 & generally it's a 70 minute trip in, but with bad weather, it could be a 2 to 3 hour drive in... just depends... if things go well, we could potentially get to the airport and try to get on that 5pm flight.... going standby, we have no checked luggage which is a big plus
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Old Dec 1, 06, 8:09 am   #6
 
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When I went to Vegas in Sept. they were having sustained winds at 40 mph and gusts well above that. The pilot told us about it when we were landing he said that the plane could handle it and to be prepared for a "little movement" - in his words - but it was a little scary and a lot of movement to me however I did feel safer that he told us about it. I don't know how I would feel if I had to take off in that but there were planes doing just that.
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Old Dec 1, 06, 8:13 am   #7
 
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There is no set wind limit for takeoff. If the wind is aligned with the runway it's better but that's less important for takeoff than it is for landing. When to actually stop operations is a judgement call but when you're in the area of 50kts of wind you are getting into the area where there may be disruptions.
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Old Dec 1, 06, 8:15 am   #8
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Today's aircraft can handle lots of conditions humans sometimes don't feel comfortable in - but often wind conditions can not be predicted with exactitude, with incoming storm systems and they might go above limits, or remain below limits - it's somewhat of a gamble, even with today's Doppler radar, etc. etc. Wind velocity, gustiness, direction, conditions ripe for creating microbursts, runway length, terrain, aircraft type, aircraft weight and balance, etc. are some of the variables the pilot must take into consideration.

We'll all keep our fingers crossed BOS and other affected airports remain open and calm enough to fly today.
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Old Dec 4, 06, 5:38 am   #9
 
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Runway condition is also a factor. Typically airliners have a lower max permissible crosswind when using a wet runway. I believe it's a 20 knot limit for the MD-80.
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Old Dec 4, 06, 8:49 am   #10
 
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IIRC, most airports are designed so that the primary runway (or runways, if multiple) align with the prevailing wind direction, if there is one. So, for example, at LAX, where winds generally come off the ocean, the runways are headed west.

The flip side of that is JFK, where there is no single prevailing wind direction, and thus JFK has 2 pairs of runways, so they can run ops in pretty much any direction.
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Old Dec 4, 06, 8:58 am   #11
 
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Timely thread from my point of view. Storms in the UK last night meant landing at LBA (Leeds) in a 737 with a crosswind gusting to 44 knots.

The pilot told us it was very near their limits and would be a bumpy approach, and he wasn't wrong! He even warned that a go-around was quite likely and described what would happen if we did that, which I thought was a good idea to prepare the passengers.

Good fun I thought, my girlfriend who hates flying at the best of times was less impressed!
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Old Dec 4, 06, 10:54 am   #12
 
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I flew GRR-ORD back in early-mid November when ORD had shut down with tornadoes in the area. They still had some pretty gusty winds when we finally made it to ORD and they must have been cross winds on our runway. We we almost flying sideways ("crabbing") during a lot of the approach and our right main gear touched down before the left. It was... interesting.
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Old Dec 8, 06, 5:22 am   #13
 
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Smile

Cross-wind landings can be a real "trip"! But I'm sure all the AA pilots have plenty of training as well as experience doing this.

The Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas was one of the primary training spots for air craft carrier pilots, even back to WWII and the reason was, we have strong constant winds (we tie Chicago as the "windy city") and many times have cross winds. The saying goes "If you can learn to fly in Corpus Christi, you can fly, takeoff, and land anywhere in the world!"

I am a private pilot and yep, learned right here in Corpus Christi. Over 50% of my take-off and landings during training was in high crosswinds (purposely) for the obvious reason that if I had a plane here, I needed to know how to land/take the thing off here!

I actually enjoyed most of the cross-wind landings (read MOST)... you do have to crab into the wind, but then snap it out straight, if possible, at the last minute.

But believe me... if the wind is too strong, and/or cross wind too brutal, the pilot is going elsewhere to land. Pilots want to get on the ground in one piece too ya know!

Probably the scariest part to the passengers is during the crabbing process. Your mind just KNOWS that plane isn't lining up straight down the runway. But that is part of the process, so sit back and try to relax!
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Old Dec 8, 06, 5:32 am   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamom View Post
But believe me... if the wind is too strong, and/or cross wind too brutal, the pilot is going elsewhere to land. Pilots want to get on the ground in one piece too ya know!
I often remind myself of that fact. It's also reassuring for me when I fly a less than reputable airline Air Koryo anyone

Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamom View Post
Probably the scariest part to the passengers is during the crabbing process. Your mind just KNOWS that plane isn't lining up straight down the runway. But that is part of the process, so sit back and try to relax!
I believe a few airlines actually got rid of their nose cameras so pax could watch landing because a few got scared when they saw the nose suddenly move left/right when the aircraft hit wind.
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Old Dec 8, 06, 6:38 am   #15
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Well, scubamom, we learn more about you every day. But you learned to fly in a great environment - avoiding crosswinds makes it a but tougher when we encounter them. In northern California, Travis AFB was also a carrier-training field due to the prevalence of winds out of the west.

Even private pilots are required to have certain experiences, and if we really want to learn, we practice landings and takeoffs on such varied environmental conditions and fields as we can - e.g. wet and dry grass.

Commercial pilots must (as you know) be rated as to type as well - because aircraft all have their own peculiarities. The Beech KingAir that has comprised much of my recent flying (a client's, so no miles; the horror! ) for example, has a wing that looks like a P-51's, which makes for a hot twin in terms of performance but in icing conditions can load up with ice if the pilot cranks in too high an angle of attack. KingAir pilots learn about that, so they can avoid the situation that might lead to ice-ups, such as the conditions we experience in the Sacramento Valley on a number of winter days (makes it a much nicer day .)

AA pilots learn about the peculiarities of the a/c they are type-rated in as well - a high-tailplane (horizontal stabilizer or even stabilator) aircraft will behave differently than a low-tail, a 737 with engines set midship and farther out from the fuselage center will have far different flight characteristics than an MD-80 with aft-mounted engines mounted on the fuselage itself. These are variables that go into calculating max wind conditions for a specific aircraft in takeoffs and landings as well as those mentioned previously.

So, flying AA we learn about this by the seat of our pants, so to speak, when we are dealing with strong winds (lake effect at ORD or Great Lakes airports, BOS, SFO... and sometimes on approach / departure at DEN.) But commercial aircraft are built to take stronger wind forces than most passengers can easily tolerate, a satisfying thing to know.
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