The Dangers of Take off and Landing in Tailwind

All student pilots are taught and trained to take off into the wind as it enables to get aloft sooner. Landing should also be made into the wind as it helps to stop in shorter distance.

What if for some reason we are not able to take off and land into the wind?

How much of a difference will it make?

The answer is not much of a difference, provided the runway is long enough and the aircraft makes a steep climb to avoid any obstacle. But, there are various factors associated, which can crop danger.

Almost all Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) contains at least some warning for landing or takeoffs in tailwind.

Some POH are not completely against tailwind landing and takeoff, but they provide information in the form of performance charts. You can take a look at the recommendations made in few POH’s and find out how much of a risk it is for taking off and landing in tailwind.

Let’s take an example: The POH of Cessna 172 contains contains clear cut guidelines and comparison on the effects of tailwind with that of headwind takeoff and landing.

There is a performance chart on takeoff distance which tells that the distance for takeoff should be decreased by 10% for every 9 knots headwind. On the other hand, takeoff distance should be increased by 10% for every 2 knots tailwind component.

Putting it in other words, the performance of Cessna is effected by nearly five times due to tailwind as compared to headwind. This means takeoffs in tailwind should be avoided at best as the performance of the aircraft is significantly impaired.

Similar guidance has been given for landing Cessna 172 in a tailwind.

The chart on landing distance contains a warning on the difference between improvement in landing distance in headwind and increase in landing distance due to tailwind.

Now take the POH of a Piper PA 44-180. The normal takeoff distance chart in the POH of Piper Seminole include the effect of headwinds and tailwinds, but doesn’t contain wind correction factor in textual form.

It can be seen that a headwind component of 10 knots decreases the takeoff roll by nearly 10%. But, you will need 40% more runway when 10 knots wind is from the tail. A similar pattern has been revealed for landing distance.

After taking a look at the data of two aircraft it can be said that tailwind increases the takeoff and landing distance by nearly three to five times.

There are good reasons to avoid tailwind landings and takeoffs and should be given more importance than the direction of flight on departure or arrival.

Check the POH of your airplane for performance related to landing and taking off in tailwind.

Also Read: The Dangers of Insufficient Aircraft Insurance

Always give first preference to the universal advice to land and take off into the wind and save yourself from embarrassment.

It will cost less than flying a leg of downwind and execute the right decision than running off the end of the runway.

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