Lufthansa Plane Landing in Strong Crosswind

Over the past weekend, we have experienced some strange weather all around Europe, with really strong winds and huge storms. There was one major incident reported, where a Lufthansa plane flying from München attempted to land in Hamburg, in a really-really strong sidewind. The report mentioned that the wing has touched the runway, but if you take a look at this footage of the actual landing attempt, you’ll see that it was not just a small touch… The plane landed safely at the second try.

The Airports in Münich and Frankfurt were closed for several hours on Saturday as well.

I suppose there were several other tough landings around the airports of Western Europe over the weekend, very similar ones to this, which was recorded earlier, in January this year, at London City Airport, by a Swiss AvroLiner. We can really see how important the landing gears are to such airliners…

[Kata and Gábor, thanks for the links!]

Here is a collection of other crosswind landings.

by balint01


34 Responses to “Lufthansa Plane Landing in Strong Crosswind”

  1. 1 Martin March 3, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks for posting the vids. One little thing…the destination airport was Hamburg, not Düsseldorf 😉

  2. 2 balint01 March 3, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Martin, thanks a lot for the comment, you are right, I have already corrected the article!

  3. 3 Khalid Ismail Al Zarouni March 3, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    He never landed… Did he transfer to Düsseldorf then?

  4. 4 valerie March 3, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Almost the very same thing happened on the very same day in Frankfurt to a flight coming from Venice that my husband was on chaperonig a high school language trip!!

  5. 5 Old Man March 3, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    That German pilot is lucky he doesn’t work for a US airline otherwise the FAA would pull his ticket and he would be out of a job. The decision to land when the winds are beyond the capacity of the airplane is complete negligence on the part of a pilot. I’ve yet to read a report on what the winds were at the time, but every airport has a multitude of weather equipment who’s data is feed to the pilot via the controller. The pilot should have been completely aware of the wind situation and I doubt the gust that hit the plane on short and final was out of the ordinary for the conditions at the time of approach. I’ve watched the video at least six times and it’s looks like the plane is at its maximum cross wind capacity well before it crosses the runway threshold. I suspect that the cross wind component was at a minimum of 30-40 knots and gust were likely occurring that were in excess of 50 knots, making this a unsafe situation that the pilot decided to pursue all the way down to the runway before executing a go around. Further, not only did this pilot try this once, but twice. Thank god he made it the second time. This pilot has not learned the most import skill in the flying, JUDGEMENT, JUDGEMENT, JUDGEMENT!!!

  6. 6 redsquirrel March 4, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Ugh, this was a very, very bad thing for me to stumble on right now. I’m a nervous flier as it is, and I’m flying to Paris tomorrow night. I’ll have to eat some extra sleeping pills.

  7. 7 Avner March 4, 2008 at 7:36 am


  8. 8 ecoinsomniac March 4, 2008 at 8:44 am

    That is amazing! I read an article about this landing and near crash earlier today, but didn’t catch the video. Thanks for sharing!

  9. 9 d ash March 4, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Surely the control tower knows the cross winds and should close the runways.

    I think its those people that should be sacked right a way.

    Totally stupid trying to land in those conditions

  10. 10 balint01 March 4, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Thank you very much for all these comments guys! It’s hard to decide from here and judge who made a mistake (by even attempting to land in such conditions): the pilot or the tower. Maybe both, maybe neither, but I’m sure that LH will conduct a detailed investigation. (As the reports say that the second attempt was successful and it was at the same runway, I suppose neither have originally made a mistake and only the momentarily conditions are to blame – and in this case the pilot did a very-very good job.)
    According to the latest reports, the plane had “only” damaged the winglet, and is back in service by now.
    Let’t keep the dicussion going, if anyone has any other ideas, opinions, comments, please post them here!

  11. 11 Jacqui March 4, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    I just recently flew with BA to and from Pisa this weekend. I’m not a god flier at all, I need to take diazapam. But the flights this weekend were actually good, I think we were lucky with just getting away with just a bit of light turbulance and the pilots gave us just the right amount of information. Such as, on the way to Pisa we were informed that we were only flying at 33,000 feet as it was too turbulant at 37,000 due to the 100 mph coming over the left shoulder. I found this comforting as I know that the pilot and crew have our safety as the major priority, and they were excellent. After watching these vidoes I must admit I was a bit shocked. Whether he should or shouldn’t of landed will be debated and investigated later. But he did do a very good job in landing the plane. I was equally impressed with the second video on how well the under carriage withstood that heavy landing! Kind of comforting in a wierd sort of way.

    But I will still take the diazapam before any further flights . . .

  12. 12 szafi March 4, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    A spokesman for Lufthansa praised the flight crew’s handling of what he described as a sudden “155 mph” wind gust. “It was a dicey situation. People were quite shaken,” Wolfgang Weber told CNN. He added the pilots performed an “absolutely professional maneuver.”

    The pilot, said to be a 17-year Lufthansa veteran, reportedly requested an alternate runway… and the aircraft landed uneventfully about 10 minutes later. After repairs to the plane’s left wing fence, the A320 was back in service Sunday.

    Germany’s Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation will examine whether the airport erred in keeping the runway active.

  13. 13 szafi March 4, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    By the way speaking about the pilot requesting an alternate airport, am I correct thinking that it is the captain’s right ti bring decisions during the flight _always_ and nobody else can overwrite his/her decisions?

  14. 14 Matt March 4, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    That’s true with regard to decisions made respecting the operation of his aircraft. So normally he cannot be told that he must land, despite the conditions. But it isn’t true with regard to which runway he lands on. The only way he can over ride the airport authorities on this is by declaring an emergency. It’s his plane. It’s their airport.

  15. 15 Dex March 4, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    i seen this last night from Fox news and it was really horrible to see the plane zigzagging on each approach…thnaks for posting pal….

  16. 16 szafi March 4, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    So it sounds like 50-50% both to be blamed, right?

  17. 17 mitchel Daniel March 4, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    This guy is very lucky. we need those kind op pilot
    here in Curacao . not as a pilot , but as President , this guy got balls. I wanna see his face at the moment that he decide to take off. i got this video clips . and i will shown evrybody in the carribean this is top action . he is lucky.

  18. 18 Deidra March 4, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    For those saying the towers and pilot should be fired, have you taken in to consideration that maybe, JUST MAYBE, they could have been running out of fuel or something. I would much rather wreck on the runway that fall 30,000 feet from the sky!

  19. 19 ian in hamburg March 4, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Actually, although the winds were coming from the North / northwest, the tower gave the pilot the choice on which runway to land instead of instructing him to land headed north. After the go-around, the pilot landed on the cross-runway headed north, as he should have been told to by the tower. I’d say there was failure on both sides. It was REALLY windy in Hamburg that day – nearly got blown off my bicycle.

  20. 20 helpmemphis March 4, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    I would be pretty unhappy with my airline if I were visiting Hamburg and my WING SCRAPED THE PAVEMENT!! Cool video though, and thankfully the situation ended positively.

    Was there a guy just out filming planes landing in crosswinds?

  21. 21 ian in hamburg March 4, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    You might also be interested in this Der Spiegel article, in English:,1518,539373,00.html

  22. 22 sigourney March 5, 2008 at 12:06 am

    The interesting thing here is: the pilot tried at first the RW 23 with the wind coming from 300, when the 33 was also available (so accordingly with much less crosswind). And indeed for the second try he took the 33 and everything was fine. Currently it is investigated (the newspaper here in Hamburg says this) why he chose the 23 for the first try (and it is his choice, not that of the tower).

  23. 23 John Smith March 5, 2008 at 4:10 am

    Obviously the pilot chose the wrong runway given the conditions. Perhaps they should make airplanes with landing gear like the B52 bombers have. B52 landing gear pivots 20 degrees to allow them to crab into a landing. If they had been able to land with their nose into the wind, the added stability would have prevented the need for a manuever that brought the wings away from a level position on final. (Which is the position the plane took that allowed a wind gust to lead she or he to scrape the wing)

  24. 24 ray March 5, 2008 at 6:24 am

    What’s with this obsession with faultfinding?
    Who controls the wind and weather?
    Capture all the data and put this on the simulators.
    Pilots can be and are trained to deal with all kinds of bizarre stuff, including an engine physically dropping off the plane during takeoff. This whole episode provides an opportunity for training above and beyond the hypothetical. May this opportunity not be lost.

  25. 25 nabil gharbi March 5, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    bravoooooooooooooooo to the pilote. was shocked to see that .glad not to be on that plane.
    very happy that every body is safe and back home
    it happened to me on a bus i saw the death,and can imagine the fear that all passengers had.
    big applause to th pilote.

  26. 26 Rraayy March 5, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    The pilot may get some words from his licensing body, but he got some experience that will live a life time for more than himself and his first officer. Every year, an airshow is held at the St Louis County Fair where the second largest regional airport is located. A WWII
    B-17 landed, followed by a WWII B-25. Of course, the wing vortexes from the B-17 were trailing it by 3/4 mile.(Vortexes are swirls of air like a cyclone laying down on the ground following the landing plane)
    The B-25 was making his approach and was within 20 to 25 feet of the ground when the vortex(es) grabbed the left wing and pulled it down to the ground. The pilot reacted so quickly that what we saw shook all of us because we were less than 100 feet from him passing in front of us. I saw two videos taken by people standing there where it looked like his left wing missed the ground by about 3 1/2 feet

  27. 27 HotBeans March 5, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Makes me glad our show is in Chicago and not Germany!

  28. 28 Tim Boemker March 5, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I agree with Old Man: it looks to me like the pilot was attempting to land in conditions beyond those for which the airplane was designed. (Maximum crosswind component is documented in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook.) I would like to read a transcript of the weather report the pilot received just before landing. If the pilot knew that the crosswind component was in excess of the plane’s capabilities, he should have his ticket pulled.

  29. 29 Gian Berta March 6, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    It is evident from the video (LH in Hamburg) that the pilot should have refrained from touching down. Just after the wheel touched the ground, the torque produced by the side-force on the vertical tail and the opposing side-force on the tyre, made the aircraft roll violently and the wingtip hit before aileron correction was effective.
    The go-around would be better performed keeping a few meters above the runway…
    Everybody has been very lucky!

  30. 30 The Stuntman March 9, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Nobody controls weather and you can always get by surprize by expecting different reactions from the plane when you give it a command but does something else because it needed some more aileron to compensate the yaw. I belive that this was the case. I’ve made a lot of crosswind take-offs and landings to know that every landing is different. Actually I become to love turbulent atmosphere and crosswinds…make me feel like flying, working my ass-off to not let the glider do whatever he wants. The crosswind landing technique apllies equally… though I don’t have an engine to make a “go arround” if for some sort of reason it goes bad. I fly since my age of 15 and in 11 years I didn’t brake one trying to land.
    The pilots are not to blame, you don’t face every day situations like that, and not every approach condition is the same. As I can see from the video the gusts were not light and you can see that before the aircraft crosses the overhead of the guy that filmed this. It doesn’t matter if you passed the touchdown point if the runaway is long enough. The decision of “go arround” was made preety quickly.
    There are pilots that hesitate to do that and some times with bad ending. Let’s not forget the Airbus in Brazil last year.
    As I can see here, and seen it a lot of times for real, the pilot made one mistake. He didn’t compensate with enough aileron after using the rudder to straight in the plane. Because of the yaw the air flows at different speeds on the wings. In this case the right wing got suddenly some extra lift makeing it to go up… and expose a large part to the wind that got underneath had no problems pushing the plane off the runaway. The quick reaction saved the day.
    I’m thinking how strange must be flyin’ a fly-by-wire, and the movement of joystick is just about half of inch or one inch. i mean if I want to roll harder I have to press harder on the joystick, it’s just strange.
    You can see that the approach, in the video was quite smooth, a little correction.. and the effect of the rudder over the wing. I just say… there must be hundreeds of landings (or landings attempts) difficult like that a year… but the only one difference is that they are not caught on tape and put in the mass-media network. That’s just lame… in my opinion. The pilots are not to blame, their reaction was quick for the response of an aircraft that has a mass and inertia. Let’s not forget THAT..

    May the weather be as you like (I preffer mine turbulent) CHEERS!!

  31. 31 Pablo Merphy March 10, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Tha lufhtansa airbus 320 pilot of that landing is not a heroe. He should not be started that approach ever due to the conditions.

  32. 32 Attila March 12, 2008 at 12:19 am

    I was lucky enough to lend only next day in the region (Munich and Hannover), if I would have been on that plane, I would have freaked out for sure…:/

  1. 1 United Airlines Low Approach at Frankfurt « Airline world Trackback on March 6, 2008 at 3:56 pm
  2. 2 Crosswind Landings - Video « Airline world Trackback on March 13, 2008 at 6:37 pm

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