DISCUSSION: On any typical day at airports spread around the world, there are dozens of situations wherein aircraft encounter a common wind issue which is most commonly referred to as a crosswind. A crosswind is best defined as a stronger wind which happens to cross the shorter axis of a given airport runway. When this happens to a large enough extent (i.e., with a sufficiently strong wind speed), this often leads to increasingly more hazardous conditions for private and/or commercial aircraft which are looking to either takeoff from or land at a given airport. This is due to the fact that when there is a sufficiently strong crosswind, this can severely affect an aircraft's ability to maintain consistent, stable flight.
This happens as a result of the fact that an aircraft relies on a stable and consistent flow of air both under and over the length of each of the aircraft's wings. When there is a crosswind, this temporarily changes the orientation of the flow of the surrounding air stream which should theoretically run from the front of the aircraft to the back so as to maintain lift. However, when an aircraft encounters a crosswind during takeoff and/or landing, the crosswind compromises the ability for the aircraft to maintain stable flight due to the wind direction changing from the left or right as opposed to coming from front to back. Thus, when this occurs in close proximity to the ground during takeoff and/or landing (i.e., when the plane has a critical need for stable flight due to its need to pick-up sufficient speed for a stable, level ascension from the ground or a safe, balanced landing on the ground), it can make things incredibly dangerous for the pilots, crew, and passengers.
The biggest problem of all is that crosswinds can be incredibly hard to anticipate as a pilot since they often occur without any warning at all. The only real situations where crosswinds can be somewhat anticipated is when there is a strong to severe thunderstorm approaching an airport since then airport and/or airline meteorologists can better predict how wind flow regimes may change both near and within the confines of an airport so as to better protect the aircraft assets which are relying on an accurate short-term forecast during a given thunderstorm event. Attached above is a compilation video courtesy of the Travel TV YouTube account which captures a number of different aircraft experiencing crosswind incidents of different magnitudes.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz