Hero Pilot or Simply Lucky?

After a video of a Lufthansa Airbus 320 jet attempting a crosswind landing at Hamburg, Germany on March 1st was posted online the story made a lot of headlines. Some news reported the pilot was a “hero” while others were quite a bit less complementary.

This picture appears to even show the left wing striking the runway during the landing attempt.

Lufthansa Wingtip Drag

In the U.S. FAR (Federal Aviation Regulation) 91.3 states that: ” (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 other words, ultimately the pilot in command is responsible for the safe operation of an aircraft. I’m assuming the Germans/Europeans have a similar regulation.

My first instinct was to question the pilot’s choice to attempt a landing under winds that some stories reported as up to 155mph (more reliable/plausible reports place the wind at gusting to 55 knots). So the pilot barely saved the aircraft from a crash, but his poor choice to attempt the landing under those conditions initially is what led to the incident to begin with.

The writer of this blog is blunt in his criticism of the pilot’s crosswind landing technique.

Airliners make crosswind landings all the time. And if the flight conditions are too dangerous to attempt a landing, it is the pilot’s responsibility to ascertain that fact and act accordingly.

I say this pilot made a poor choice that nearly resulted in disaster. The fact that the pilot was able to save the aircraft doesn’t negate that poor initial decision (and the decision to continue the approach until the very last second that almost resulted in disaster), and certainly doesn’t make him a hero.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *