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White Knuckles: Airbus Landing Attempt During Storm Emma


Check out this clip of Lufthansa flight LH44 from Munich attempting to land on Saturday in Hamburg during extreme crosswinds from Storm Emma. The Airbus A320 eventually landed on another attempt at a different runway, but can you imagine being on that thing?

Clip after the JUMP...

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  1. Umm... it's quite scary to think that an airline would be putting its customers at such risk by allowing planes to land under these conditions. I used to console myself when getting on a plane in bad weather by saying, "Hey, they wouldn't let the airplane fly if it weren't safe." Guess I'll have to rethink that.

    Posted by: Eric | Mar 3, 2008 3:56:13 PM

  2. I used to think the same thing as Eric... and even take it one step further and think "Well the pilot won't fly us into anything he knows would be dangerous because he is on here too."

    I am glad they all got down safely but i hope that pilot has to go back for some retraining for even attempting that landing.

    Posted by: dan | Mar 3, 2008 4:06:19 PM

  3. The pilot would not land unless the tower gave him clearance. The tower has all the data on crosswinds, etc. Don't blame the pilot. A gust of wind can come at any time.

    Is anyone suggesting that planes that fly at 600 mph should be grounded when there are windy conditions out over a paved-over field?? I might add that the sideways landing you see is a lot more common than you think. It was a gust of wind at or near touchdown that was the problem.

    Posted by: Will | Mar 3, 2008 4:24:24 PM

  4. FUCK THAT!!!

    Posted by: bub | Mar 3, 2008 4:31:10 PM

  5. FUCK THAT!!!

    Posted by: bub | Mar 3, 2008 4:32:32 PM

  6. You can argue all you want, but the fact is that the plane landed SAFELY.

    Posted by: Marc in Chicago | Mar 3, 2008 4:35:07 PM

  7. YIKES!! I would have pooped and peed on myelf if I was on that flight.

    All dignity out the door.

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Mar 3, 2008 4:46:31 PM

  8. Are you seriously getting into an argument over a plane having a rough landing that none of you were even on? Jesus, relax. Go have a drink.

    Posted by: ME! | Mar 3, 2008 4:47:38 PM

  9. I would have sharted.

    Posted by: Chux | Mar 3, 2008 4:48:21 PM

  10. Perfectly horrifying! I would have died of a heart attack if I'd been on that thing.

    Posted by: Rhea | Mar 3, 2008 4:55:24 PM

  11. The only safety I don't care about is yours, "me!"

    Relax.... you're just not worth the argument.

    Posted by: Jesus | Mar 3, 2008 5:17:46 PM

  12. If the plane doesn't land it will run out of fuel and crash.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 3, 2008 5:30:26 PM

  13. I read an excellent book a while back called "Ask the Pilot" by a gentleman named Patrick Smith. He was a commercial airline pilot for the major carriers, regional commuters and cargo carriers.

    He talked a lot about the passenger's perceptions of a landing v. the crews. He said a lot of passengers would thank the pilots on the way out for making a difficult landing and the pilots would look at each other because to them it was really routine.

    While that landing probably wasn't "routine" I would dare say that it wasn't the first time the pilots had caught a windshear as they were landing and needed to "abort/go around". It does happen and I bet it is equivalent to an experienced driver skidding a little bit on a wet road.

    Posted by: Ed | Mar 3, 2008 5:40:29 PM

  14. Ha, simulator (and it ain't no
    video game) training puts pilots
    through this all the time simulating various aircraft that the pilot is certified to fly. This pilot did exactly the right thing. If you look closely he even almost pulled off a non-sideways landing until the gust of wind popped up; then the correct thing to do is to abort and "go around", even plenty of fuel left to do this many times if not land at another airport. Just shows you what a great jet in perfect condition with a great pilot can do. If it bugs you, take the bus, otherwise sit back, relax, watch the movie; welcome to the jet age.

    Posted by: YURNOTAPILOT | Mar 3, 2008 5:53:32 PM

  15. @ ED: I am terribly afraid to fly and read Patrick Smith's column on regularly. I can't wait to see what he has to say about this Lufthansa landing.

    Posted by: peterparker | Mar 3, 2008 5:54:08 PM

  16. I'm impressed the pilot managed to keep the damn plan from crashing. I believe that shows just how well he was trained to keep control under those circumstances.

    Posted by: Bojo | Mar 3, 2008 6:01:39 PM

  17. That's why I have a couple cocktails as soon as I can.

    Posted by: David | Mar 3, 2008 8:41:39 PM

  18. I didn't used to be afraid of flying until I had a job where I flew all the time for 10 years to see clients. I had a number of flights like that where people on the plane were screaming and the overhead bins were popping open with stuff falling out. The worst one was in 1996 coming out of Detroit after a 9 hour delay due to storms on a hot, humid summer day. We finally took off at 11:30p and it was so horrible; that was the turning point for me. Now to prevent panic attacks, I have to pop a Klonopin before getting on a plane everytime I fly.

    Posted by: Uptown James | Mar 4, 2008 12:24:41 AM

  19. All I got to say is weeeeeeeee can we do it again!

    Posted by: Greg2 | Mar 4, 2008 2:10:42 AM

  20. All I got to say is weeeeeeeee can we do it again!

    Posted by: Greg2 | Mar 4, 2008 2:11:31 AM

  21. I think the pilots are to be commended for getting the plane out of that tight spot...After seing the video, I put those exact weather conditions into Flight Simulator at Hamburg, and set the realism to real-world conditions, too. I'm pretty good at Flight Sim (with a little aviation knowledge...used to work the ramp at JFK and got to know a few pilots who let me play wth, the anyway, I then attempted to land a 737 on the runway. I cracked the gear and made a nice divot with my left wing on the infield.

    Trust me, those pilots deserve a medal.

    Posted by: Nathan James | Mar 4, 2008 2:13:50 AM

  22. Those pilots should be praised. I know I couldn't do that.....and I bet that pretty much goes for everyone else too.

    That said.....I too would have lost the cookies and no amount of Klonopin would have helped.

    Posted by: Liam | Mar 4, 2008 3:16:10 AM

  23. Any of you ever flown into EWR on a windy day? I swear there were times we landed sideways!

    Posted by: shane | Mar 4, 2008 7:21:47 AM

  24. I am a pilot, and this looks like pilot error to me.

    In training you practice cross-wind landings like this. The technique is to fly the airplane turned into the wind in order to travel in a straightline over the runway. Just before touchdown, the UPWIND wheel must touch first while at the same time using the rudder in the tail of the plane to align the plane straight with the runway. You then proceed with a normal, straight ahead landing with wheels touching the runway. You notice that here the DOWNWIND wheel touches first, meaning that the right wing in blown upward. This is pilot error.

    The second, probable, pilot error is that every airplane is certified to make landings in cross-winds only up to a certain intensity. Past this amount, it must not attempt landing. It looks like the pilot here MAY have attempted a landing in a cross wind GREATER than that certified for the aircraft.

    His recovery was fine, but not particularly unusual in what I've seen.

    Other pilots should call this guy on this.

    Posted by: Steve | Mar 4, 2008 10:33:15 AM

  25. That video brought back bad memories and a panic attack.

    I flew into Hamburg on a Luftansa flight in 1984 and had a very similar experience. We came in sideways, touched down roughly and had to reassend for a second try.

    Hamburg airport must have a particular problem with very high cross winds.

    I will say that Luftansa uses top quality aircraft and has some of the best trained, most experienced and most proficient pilots in the business.

    Having said all that, it seems to me, who knows absolutely nothing about piloting, that the pilot should have pulled out of that situation before attempting touchdown. The video seems to make it clear that the plane was in trouble well before the touchdown attempt.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 4, 2008 1:17:41 PM

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