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Ouch: Etihad Criticizes A380 Pilots For Viral Crosswind Landing

Almost across the board you see praise for these pilots for the landing. Well, Etihad seems to disagree… ( More...

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Stefan Sobol 12
All transport category aircraft have a maximum demonstrated crosswind. This is part of aircraft certification and pilot training. Pilots do it in the simulator from time to time. We have to demonstrate that the simulator performs as the aircraft at this crosswind. As long as the pilots made the approach and landing within this limit, there's no problem.

This issue is that the video looks extreme. The press, lay people, and the uninformed will get their knickers in a twist and the airline will have to respond. If it wasn't on the internet, nothing would have happened to the crew. On the other hand, it would have cost thousands of $ to go around in fuel alone. If the pilots had done a go-around I'll bet the airline would have been all over them for wasting money by aborting a landing within the capabilities of the aircraft.
Laura Smith 7
I agree with you except as a PIC I am going to make the safest decisions, and cost isn't going to enter my mind. If I feel a go-around is the safest option, I don't care about the cost, and I am not going to be thinking about aircraft limits and building my case for a go-around at that point. I am only going to be thinking about the safest options to land. I am a part 91 pilot, but if my boss ever encourages me to put cost ahead of safety, I'm out.
Jasper Buck 3
As per FAR 91.3 you, as the PIC, make the call.

91.3 Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.
(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

In my years of flying I've only made a few go arounds and most of those were in Alaska flying a C-130 (L-382 in the civilian world.) Nasty winds in Alaska.

J Buck
FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (Ret,)
ATP DC-9 B757/767/777
Jasper Buck 1
You are correct. All Part 25 Transport Category aircraft have a max demonstrated crosswind component. Small aircraft, e.g. Part 23 airplanes, have similar limitations.)

Here's the rule.

14 CFR 25.237 Wind velocities.

(a) For land planes and amphibians, the following applies:

(1) A 90-degree cross component of wind velocity, demonstrated to be safe for takeoff and landing, must be established for dry runways and must be at least 20 knots or 0.2 VSR0*, whichever is greater, except that it need not exceed 25 knots.

(2) The crosswind component for takeoff established without ice accretions is valid in icing conditions.

(3) The landing crosswind component must be established for:

(i) Non-icing conditions, and

(ii) Icing conditions with the most critical of the landing ice accretion(s) defined in Appendices C and O of this part, as applicable, in accordance with §25.21(g).

(b) For seaplanes and amphibians, the following applies:

(1) A 90-degree cross component of wind velocity, up to which takeoff and landing is safe under all water conditions that may reasonably be expected in normal operation, must be established and must be at least 20 knots or 0.2 VSR0, whichever is greater, except that it need not exceed 25 knots.

(2) A wind velocity, for which taxiing is safe in any direction under all water conditions that may reasonably be expected in normal operation, must be established and must be at least 20 knots or 0.2 VSR0, whichever is greater, except that it need not exceed 25 knots.

*From FAR 1.1 Definitions

VSRO means reference stall speed in the landing configuration.

Note that the limitatons are in the AFM, not the TCDS. So, for example, if the Vsro speed is 140 the max 90 degree crosswind would be 28.


J Buck
FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (Ret,)
ATP DC-9 B757/767/777
"Demonstrated" is not a limitation.
David Isaacs 21
Is it possible that the distance from which the video was shot accentuated the apparent angle? Telephoto lenses compress distances and that be part of the issue here. I have seen past videos that looked like the plane was closer to being out of control than this one.

I think you are absolutely correct. The video above is no where near extreme.
Roger Anderson 14
For sure it does! I would hope that they used some kind of telemetry data to make that kind of a recommendation.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

No idea why you had to downvote me for that. My point is that I HOPE they didn't rush to come to a conclusion based on the video itself and the attention it drew.
mike SUT 24
Roger....from a pilots perspective....when you are looking at your intended point of touchdown through a side window and not your windscreen.. you've got a hefty crosswind. If after touchdown the aircraft (as seen regardless of the "point of view") the aircraft severely lurches to try get back in the direction of were in a severe crosswind. I can guarantee you the people were "tossed" to their sides when that aircraft touched down. As Nick Hesler (above) said...they had ZERO input for a crosswind correction, put enormous side load pressure on that landing gear and all the passengers will remember from that flight was the horrendous landing and after seeing the video, question whether they will ever fly on Ethiad again due to the pilots judgement. There's a reason we all have an Alternate before departing on our flight and I have used mine for weather, safety of flight reasons, and in my own opinion...this was one landing where maybe it should have been considered. Diversions were going on all day from other aircraft. Guess this guy thought he could hack it but the bottom line is at what cost. Last thing an airline pilot wants to do is bring attention to himself or his airline in a negative manner and now the airlines training department is out there slapping the pilot group as a whole, and this video is viral.
bentwing60 4
Given that he or she planted All the mains on the upwind side of the center line lights, someone knew where the nose gear, and thus the airplane, was gonna wind up from the inertia of the approach in an airplane built to haul half a small town. And a landing gear built for it! I'm not pickin a side, but I bet most of the wind component was a head wind and fairly steady state from the looks of the video. I think they made the first taxiway, unless I missed somethin'. Welcome to Kai Tak, Pre everyone can create a video, but a lot of people went there anyway.

My point, If they buy an airplane that can't land anywhere, (alternates), as a senior guy for that airplane and airline you learn how to land them where you have to! The alternate is enormously expensive. And everybody knows it.
mike SUT 10
As another Senior guy checked out on 747-400's and other wide bodies.....and having spent a number of times going into Kai Tek , .I agree with you on an alternate being an expensive proposition but......what the passengers felt they went through, possibly damaging the aircraft (the 747-400 had a 9 degree limit on bank angle before you hit the outboard pods on touchdown, one gust away and having been got a lot of sidestick time on that 330, they don't react as fast as a good old fashioned yoke)...what I'm saying is, sometimes discretion is the better idea...that's why we have alternates. BUT then again, I wasn't in the cockpit, just watched the video and the movement of the back section of the aircraft. There's a lot of rudder pumping, and regardless of camera position, that nose was a good 30 degrees off runway heading judging by how much of the opposite side was visible. Cheers
bentwing60 -2
Mike Monk 3
The practice of nominating an alternate is based on very good reasons and cost is not one of them. Furthermore, it can be EXTREMELY expensive in more ways than one if a bad thought process turns into a tragedy.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

john kilcher -1
Go haunt a house this weekend, bellend.
No disagreement there. There was no center line correction before touch down.
It looks like they did try, but got slammed by a gust that threw them off. There are videos on YouTube showing wild landings. Really wild landings.

I cheered for the pilots that called it, and tucked those wheels in, and went around for another try. But the ones that nailed it got cheers too. YEA HAH!!!
Phil Nolden 0
Did you talk to the crew? Did the Captain tell you. personally, that he was looking through his side window at touchdown?

I don't mind being judged by my peers who are in the cockpit, but if there were no adverse effects from the landing, I reject criticism from those who weren't in the cockpit.
serge LOTH 2
ABSOLUTLY, by experience, it's easy to tell Something where people weren't present..I saw millions of landings in hard conditions from my control tower.;for me if the crew and passengers are safe in the terminal.. it's defintly a good landing!
Robin Rebhan 5
IMO. It's all about perspective. It's just another day in the office for a professional pilot. For the passengers on the starboard side of the aircraft, not so much. For the arm chair management back in the main office watching a multi-million dollar investment landing like that YIKES!
But this is why you hire and train and train the best of the best professional pilots in the business, in the cockpit they make it look easy and for them it's routine, that's why they get paid well.
Phil Nolden 4
As most of us know, foreign airlines can be quite "political" - the Asian carriers come to mind. Perhaps Etihad's chief pilot doesn't "like" this particular captain, for whatever reason.
Jasper Buck 2
" the Asian carriers come to mind.."

As do African.
Phil Nolden 6
If the crosswind component was within limits, I don't know why the company would have a problem just because somebody posted a video which was considerably off centerline and zoomed in, thus distorting the actual crab angle.
DGR Rathborne -7
I saw this video on local news stns , taken from behind the A-380 ; off to the left of centre line . That Crew had no right to imperil those people like that even if the " Limits " had been meet . I had watched a # of other Big Twins filmed by the same photographer , and some of those Crews aborted and did Go Arounds . With the lumbering size of the 380 , common sense should have prevailed ........DGR
Phil Nolden 3
Are you an airline pilot? I'm a retired captain for a major US carrier. I was also a USAF pilot who holds the Distinguished Flying cross for a specific mission in Viet Nam. In a 44 year flying career I never put a scratch on an airplane or a passenger.
NickFlightX 7
Talk about a way to side load that landing gear! Absolutely 0 crosswind correction for the touchdown. They are luck this didn't cause damage to that gear with how heavy that plane is.
bartmiller 3
Anyone know if there was follow-up maintenance on the gear after that landing? My guess is that the the side loads were outside of operating guidelines (but, admittedly. I don’t know what is the maximum demonstrated crosswind for an A380).
It looked to me that they were hit with a gust just as they were about to contact he runway. I doubt they could have pulled it up hard enough, and fast enough to avoid slamming into the ground. I'd think that at that point, they were committed in a huge degree, and all they could do is really try to drop it, and control the direction as best as they could.

I'm sure it was a hell of a ride.
Here's the tail cam video. Does not look at bad as the first video now that you look at it from a less compressed angle.
donjohnston 6
There is no way that video is the same landing. On the ground video, the plane touches down without any attempt to reduce the crab angle. On the tail cam video, the pilot kicks out most of the crab before touching down.
Ejacko CACCO 4
Exactly. They are not video of the same landing.
SmokedChops 3
You can see how far off centerline the original video was shot from. Beyond opposite end? (12,000+ ft away) Perhaps the Etihad Management can review this angle as well. Good landing is one you can walk away from, a great landing is one where you can use the plane again.
Kevin Keswick 4
Agreed. From the tail cam it does not seem so bad - plane was almost lined up on the center line when the gear touched down
Peter Steitz 1
Roger Anderson, if this is a tail cam video of the Etihad landing, I'd say the touchdown was no big deal. Maybe a 10 degree crab. I may have to agree with others who said it was not the landing in the article.
djames225 1
What I want to know is why others are still criticizing the landing based on a video that is skewed? Think I trust the actual tail cam video more and watching it, that crabbed landing was on the money. Hell Ive been on birds where they used up all the real estate, landing.
Atanu Dey 0
Roger, how certain is it that the tail cam video is from the same landing? I seriously doubt it.
Depth of field can be very deceptive
Totally agree with Roger Anderson after reviewing the tail camera this is not as bad as what was first posted. Once again proving to all of us...get all the facts not just one side, in this case, one view of the story.
Carl Smeraldi 2
Rob Smith 2
I posted the youtube tailcam video on, and one of the responses was that the video was not from the flight in question but another Etihad flight into LHR that day.
Andy Scontras 2
If the crosswind component was within Etihad certification limits then I don't see a problem and their training department ought to STFU -- if the crosswind was out of limits, then the crew is rightfully busted.
bigkahuna400 2
Good landing regardless if supposed to go around. I wonder where the closest airport for a380 is? Maybe Paris? Also, you can see buy first video that the Rudder was hard over to make correction as well. That is a huge tail rudder as well. Thanks airbus
SaltwaterC 1
From the top of my mind, LGW and BHX operate A380 flights. They are closer than CDG.
should count your blessings those men were able to land safely despite all. seems no one is happy unless there is abutt to chew. back off will you?
mkeflyer 2
The only thing that matters to the company...what does the company manual say for approved wind limitations.
David Browett 4
The pilot in command knew what he was doing.... he/she landed the plane safely enough for it to be used again, others my be of a different opinion but the pilot had safety first and foremost in mind I'm sure, lets face it an AB380 is not a cheap plane to destroy is it
godutch 3
Regardless whether the crew should have diverted or those winds, the pilot did a GREAT JOB.
Hans Siegl 2
The impressiveness of the video is merely created by the optical illusion using telephoto, the point from whete it was taken and the rather silly voice comment.
All the criticism from the airline and different forums probably emerges from lesser gifted airmen
Greg S 2
I'm not really sure what the point of that memo was. Given the size and nature of the storm, would there have been any point to going around? You could go to a nearby alternate as long as it has a runway with less crosswind component, but maybe there was no better airport. Perhaps cancelling or delaying the flight would've made more sense, but the airline operations dept. was likely a party to the decision to try to the flight, not just the pilots.
djames225 2
Thanks for posting the tail cam video URL, Roger. Seems the original video distorted the actual landing. Seen worse crabbed in landings in better weather.
As for alternates, that whole neck of the woods was getting slammed.
lynx318 1
Wonder if Etihad has reviewed the tail cam, probably not.
djames225 2
It appears many, including some recent posters in here, have not. Otherwise Etihad, if they had a brain, would have the "skewed" video pulled.
Funny how many are condemning the Etihad pilots, when LHR, CDG even AMS had similar, or even bumpier, crabbed in landings that day. Heck I've seen AMS where it's sunny and warm yet still have to crab in.
hornet135 0
How exactly would they have it pulled, and from where?
lynx318 1
From Youtube by their lawyers.
hornet135 0
That would be a fruitless endeavor.
Kevin Brady 1
Every pilot wants to do this once, but if it's filmed, it's up to the front office with a suspension or a pink slip.
GottaFly2 1
are there any 380 drivers here? I am pretty sure the 380 is designed to land in a crab due to wing length, just don't know what the limit is. it looks ok to me until that last gust takes the crab well beyond 20 deg. the PIC at that point may have been already committed and had insufficient time to correct, but no doubt a heck of a jolt for the pax, which I am betting is why the airline has criticized? or their legal department has advised them to anyway....
Jerry Lawson 1
I haven't looked everywhere, but have been wondering as to why the B52 is the only plane I have seen with the ability to crab into the wind, and still keep it's landing gear pointed down the runway heading, thus allowing the pilot a better chance at making a crosswind landing. The 52 is from a different age of aircraft design, seems like the commercial market would have required this technology by now. Can anyone tell me why?
Phil Nolden 1
Cost, maintenance, complexity, weight - take your pick.
Peter Steitz 1
Agreed. Those long wings would easily hit the ground if the wing low method was used.
I am not Pilot, but I can say that the Pilot nailed cross wind landing.
harrydanik 1
the bird landed......everyone was safe
some tight butts......another great day in paradise !
Airbus A380 might find a new market for training airline pilots how to land in crosswinds
Ken Hardy 1
Interesting video of " crabbing " Back in the 60's at Lockheed where I was a Quality Engineer and the C5-A was designed and built, it had a crosswind computer that was tied into the main landing gear of 4 main bogies 6 wheels each, the purpose of the crosswind computer was to drive the main bogies to line up with the centerline on the runway using input from the ALS system when the fuselage was crabbing due to cross winds. it worked ok at times but when it failed, it was spectacular with the loss of one or more of the bogies. When the B model C5's were built, they left off the crosswind computer system
Marc Rodstein 1
Pilot fir 52 years here. I don’t believe the tailcam video is the same landing. In the telephoto shot the plane appears to yaw 20 to 30 degrees upon touchdown whereas in the tailcam shot, hardly at all. Two different landings I would say.
dohspc 1
Skilled pilot
Ralph Wigzell 1
The suits are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Ralph Wigzell 1
Effectively no problem if the crosswind component was within the limits of the airplane.
Andy Scontras 1
That's how it's done. Ain't pretty.
sharon bias 1
The tail cam certainly shows a more complete picture of the landing, but when the passenger says, "holy *uck" upon touchdown, you know it was a gnarly landing. Gnarly being a highly technical term in the aviation field.
djames225 3
I've heard passengers say a whole lot more than that, in good weather, from a hard deck drop.
patrick baker 1
technically speaking,, he hovered a long time above the runway at a 45 degree angle at less than 50 feet while crabbing down the runway. Wide aircraft, wide runway, lots of movement up, down, sideways. As a video game this would be exciting- as a passenger, not even a little bit pleasent. He delayed kicking in right rudder above the runway for longer than i liked,and still did not get a smooth touchdown. Pretty bad in most ways......
Ken Cook 1
No question, they should have gone around!
Dan Anderson 0
I know many will not like my comment here, but I have found that having multiple perspectives on a given situation tends to clarify the muddiness of assumption.

Take a gander at this video which shows the tail camera exhibiting the actual touchdown. Then, please explain to me how the "sideload" was beyond specs.
Greg S 0
Do you what the sideload specs are?
DGR Rathborne -1
Ride Him Cowboy !!! I was horrified when i saw this approach and landing on my local TV stns . If you want to do this kind of crap , then just endanger your own life . Not all the others on board !! This was a perfect example of this : I think i can ....I think i can ....... This cowboy stuff has cost a lot of lives over time . I am Not impressed . ..........DGR
Mike Monk -3
That was an appalling landing.
We criticise airlines for not training pilots properly but when a pilot does something as irresponsible and stupid as this one did we criticise the airline again for berating him.
I wonder whether those that say this pilot is a hero or that he did a wonderful job of landing that plane actually know anything about flying aeroplanes.
I agree FULLY with Mike SUT's comment below.
Phil Nolden 2
Unless you were in the cockpit during the landing, or data shows that the winds were out of limits, your statement is uninformed.
Jonathan Huls 0
This landing was an experiment. These conditions probably far exceed the demonstrated crosswind component demonstrated by airbus test pilots. Those testing limits are of course informed by the design limitations of the airframe and landing gear. The pilot flying was not doing that algebra when he was busy forcing his ship down.

This crew got away with this one....and as a result, they might try it again or inspire other crews to try it...a process known as normalization of deviation. But they easily might not have gotten away with it, and it only takes one.

Side loading could have sheared the gear off leading to massive loss of life.

The airline’s training guidance is correct. This is not an example to follow...period. This is an example of above average stick and rudder skill...but also an example of woefully poor airmanship and command assuming an alternate course of action was available...if there was no alternate than this crews planning and SA had failed. A failure either way.

This is a very lucky 1.

Also, i hope that landing gear was looked at before that ships next leg??? Did the crew report this or did the video discover it. If I was that planes next skipper Id be having kittens over this.

Jonathan Huls. ATP Check Airman. 20 years.
bigkahuna400 0
I would like to know if they destroyed any tires/wheels in the process? They had to bend a few things with hard landing with the weight of the thing.
patrick baker 0
pilots do not get to supersede aircraft designers or the guys who wrote the flight manuals when thinking about aircraft operations. Disobeying an aircraft limitation in a flight operation can result in the aircraft getting bent or broken, and absolutely should result in a letter of reprimand or worse to the pilot(s) involved. GO someplace else where the runway better fits the wind conditions.By the way, a 45 degree crab to the runway is exciting.
If it was just flight crew no problem but with a load of punters in the back... taking unnecessary chances
Sidney Smith 0
As a pilot and a filmmaker, yes the long focal length magnifies the scene but you must agree that an above average portion of the landing gear service life was removed in five seconds flat. "Think we should have maintenance take a peak and the landing gear trunnion bearings before we fly her again...?" "Naaaa."
Mike Murphy 0
They landed sideways
Can't believe the gear didn't shear off
Jason Bell 0
The aircraft owners reserve full right to critique what happens with any of their fleet. If this were a real fuel emergency, no option but land, understandable. It wasn't an emergency.

Hard to see from the cellphone lens but the A380 touched down at least 40 degree offset. Rudder did nothing. The tire bite and momentum keeled the big aircraft into a reasonably straight rollout. All the passengers in the back would have their personal opinions about the meaning of the term reasonable.

When the fleet owner chimes in, however cool the video is to watch, and all crosswind landings are definitely cool to watch, is taken that they would prefer the pilots to go around and have another go in a hugely expensive aircraft that neither own.
Passenger abuse? Yes, certainly! Consider a vertical axis in the vicinity of the main gear (not necessarily coincident with the aerodynamic vertical axis), With a little thought of the distance the front and back rows of seats were away from that axis on the post touchdown yaw and the a/c heading correction, plus the time of that correction (almost instantaneous), it should be apparent that passengers in those rows particularly, were treated to some rather severe whiplash. I don't have the numbers to do the math but it seems to me that they would be thrown sideways through an arc of 20 to 40 feet.
darjr26 0
It’s really not that big a deal to divert to an alternate airport. Airlines do it all the time. Get some fuel, and if the crew is still legal, and the weather improves, head back to the original airport. If not, put the crew to bed and try it again tomorrow.
djames225 1
It is a big deal if the alternates are getting socked just as bad. Remember the A380 does not have the luxury of having a huge number of airports that can handle it.
ryan edwards 0
From a pilots perspective here.
This is very disturbing.
It shows the pilot was not trained to fly with
the proper crosswind correction Technic but he/she
was able to get in the pilot seat with hundreds of souls
on board. These pilots need better/more stick and rutter
skills that are somehow being skipped or missed on the
road to ATP. How I just dont know.
darjr26 0
Oh I agree, the alternate airports would probably be crowded, since a lot of pilots would not attempt an approach with conditions the way they were, but I don’t think the flight crew should be thinking about that. If the flight was released with distant alternates and a decent amount of holding fuel based on forecasted conditions, they should have had some options. My point is that even if the flight gets stuck at an alternate airport the worst thing that’s going to happen is the passengers might not get to London until the next day and the aircraft might be out of position for its next flight. In the general scheme of things that’s not that big of deal and it’s not that hard to put the schedule back together again.
nightflyer182 0
The YouTube video ending in lHsMIdfD5Gg is NOT the same as the one in the article.

The video in the article clearly shows a significant crab angle, especially after that gust. They should have immediately gone around.

One should never put themselves, crew, and PAX in danger like this! Those pilots were damn lucky that flight did not end up an accident with casualties!

No wonder they have been terminated.
Robert Cowling -6
It was reckless, but a hell of a video.

Airbus should use it as an advertisement! Awesome landing, but where did they end up? The next runway?
hal pushpak -1
In addition to the tailcam.. Looks reasonable enough, given the circumstances, from this angle with less zoom-in perspective distortion (fast forward to 7:56) (@7:56)
I'd say, good job!
Atanu Dey 3
This is A6-API flight from Abu Dhabi to LHR. This is NOT the same flight as the original video.

For this A6-API, the wind direction is from the left. In the original video, the wind direction is from the right.
djames225 1
Another great shot. Also watch the wings of the B788 which landed after it.


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