speedracer1407
Posts: 330
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2004 4:19 pm

A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:14 pm

Last week, a pretty hard landing at MCI in a Frontier A319 left me wondering if winds aloft, perhaps just a a couple hundred feet AGL, could be so different from the warm, calm, clear conditions on the ground that it could turn a would-be uneventful landing into a big, loud, bouncy event, at least from a passenger's perspective.

On approach, there was no turbulence, the skies were clear, the runway was not contaminated (and it's pretty long too), and the pilot did not appear to be wrestling with the controls (the ailerons were virtually motionless throughout and the approach was very smooth). There was no perceptible flair until just a second before touchdown, when the deck angle appeared to increase quickly at almost the same moment as we touched down rather hard, bounced briefly, touched down again, and then jounced and rebounded several times on the MLG struts. We did not brake hard and did not turn off early. Although I'm sure it wasn't dangerous or damaging, this was definately the hardest landing I've experienced in recent memory, despite flying probably 100 legs in the last 5 years or so in all sorts of weather and on runways of various lengths.

All the usual reasons for an intentionally "positive" landing seemed to be absent, so rather than assume the PF goofed the landing, I wonder if maybe a mild downdraft or sudden loss of a few knots IAS could happen so low to the ground on a night that feels perfectly still, clear, and calm on the ground, as it did that night. Thanks for any insights.
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bablackpilot
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RE: A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:07 pm

Well there many things that go into landing an airplane and they start way before we even get into the airports airspace to land.
Some of them consist of weather, runway conditions, status of aircraft, traffic saturation and ATC
Once all of the "simple factors" are take care of ie. runway, aircraft status (weight, ref speed etc) and traffic you come into the unknown regions. I put weather in the unknown region because with temperature you can get a thermal, lifting action if there is high temperatures and there is a dark area at the begining of the runway envirement. Also, you can get a wind gust out of no where.
The other thing to mess up a landing is poor speed management. It's amazing what plus or minus 5 knots can do to your airspeed.
So with all of that said and done and from what you listed above, it was probably the pilot doing a visual approach with poor speed management. Especially since you said there wasn't much of a landing roll or braking. It also could have been windshear. If you get that when you are approaching a runway, you don't want to flare too much because of the loss of foward speed.
Like I said they're many things that can be considered in why the landing was hard or non perfect. This above is just a few of the things a pilot has to take into consideration when making a landing.
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:09 pm

Sounds like he just flared late....he goofed it up.
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:13 pm

And you walked away from it correct?  Smile

Don't you just hate when the runway jumps up at you when landing?
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FredT
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RE: A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:25 pm

"Winds aloft
The wind speed and direction at various levels in the atmosphere above the level reached by surface weather observations."

Not quite the correct word for the described phenomenon.  Smile

Online source:
http://www.novalynx.com/glossary-w.html
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SlamClick
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RE: A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Sun Aug 19, 2007 11:45 pm

"...arriving runway one nine right, departing runway zero niner. Use caution, touchdown zone elevation variable between one thousand twenty and one thoursand thirty feet. Hard arrivals reported by an Airbus. Advise initial controller you have Kansas City arrival information kilo."

Truth is, we just do get a rough one every now and then. If it doesn't drop the passenger oxygen maskes it wasn't too bad. This one sounds like one of this variety:

looking good
looking good
looking good
Gasp! [he flares] We are down here already?
KaBoom!!!
I think I can save it.
KaBoom!!!
Oops.
catch it...
Dammit!
"leave the cockpit door closed when we get to the gate."
[they roll out in stony silence]


If you think about it though, the winds a couple hundred feet away from you are not going to have any effect on you, just the winds you are actually flying in. Further, squirrely winds are not really an excuse for a bad landing once you have a few hours. They might give a student pilot trouble but eventually we all overcome them, so long as it is within the capability of the airplane.

FYI, the winds are almost certainly going to be a bit differet at points above the surface. As anyone who has sailed square-riggers can tell you, they can be counted on to turn to the right (in the northern hemisphere) and increase in speed as one goes up. The drag of the surface is such that this is observable in just a hundred feet or less. Square riggers when sailing close to the wind often kept one of the uppermost yards trimmed slightly closer to the wind than the rest of the sails. If the wind was shifting that sail would luff (stall) first and they could fall off a bit before the rest of the sails followed and they were "taken aback" which was their version of stalling out.

edit: perspicacity

[Edited 2007-08-19 16:47:44]
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speedracer1407
Posts: 330
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RE: A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:55 am

Quoting FredT (Reply 4):
"Winds aloft
The wind speed and direction at various levels in the atmosphere above the level reached by surface weather observations."

Not quite the correct word for the described phenomenon.

Actually, that's exactly what I meant, though I probably didn't clarify enough. I was wondering if perhaps wind speed and direction during approach were different than those I observed once on the ground, thus making the landing trickier than I'd have expected. On this night, I assumed that it was unlikely that winds were all that different just 100-200 feet AGL to cause an unexpected airspeed/sinkrate issue.

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 3):
And you walked away from it correct?

heh, yes, but,

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 5):
"leave the cockpit door closed when we get to the gate."

Funny how pilots often open the door and greet passengers as they leave when things go better than expected. I recall a recent flight on a CO ERJ when the pilot absolutely blasted down the taxiway to your distant gate--summoned big thrust and kept it there for a good long while. At least half the passengers thanked the pilots for the speedy arrival.
Dassault Mercure: the plane that has Boeing and Airbus shaking in their boots.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: A Hard Landing And Winds Aloft

Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:08 pm

Quoting Speedracer1407 (Reply 6):
I recall a recent flight on a CO ERJ when the pilot absolutely blasted down the taxiway to your distant gate--summoned big thrust and kept it there for a good long while. At least half the passengers thanked the pilots for the speedy arrival

I don't think Mx would be pleased though.Unnecessary Tire heating & reducing its life.
regds
MEL
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