Amazing Airliner Tricks: Crosswinds, ‘Cat IIIC’ Landings

James Fallows in The Atlantic:

1) The “Crab Into Kick” Crosswind landing technique: A few weeks ago I posted a video of a dramatic landing by a Lufthansa plane, in Canada, as it coped with gale-force crosswinds. It was a useful demonstration of the classic “crab into kick” technique of landing in a crosswind. The airplane approaches the runway at a “crabbed” angle, to offset the wind — then at practically the last instant before touchdown the pilot uses the rudder to “kick” the plane into alignment with the runway, so when the wheels make contact they are pointed straight ahead. That post also had a lot of links to how-to discussions of landing techniques.

Here is a fascinating demonstration of how various pilots apply the technique, during tough crosswinds last week in Dusseldorf, Germany. As you watch the sequence of planes coming in, you're looking to see how close each touchdown point is to the runway's center line, and whether the plane has been “kicked” so that it points straight ahead.

The landings shown here range from very precise, to “good enough.” The results are a combination of the pilots' handling of the approach and the control characteristics of the various airplanes. Also, you get to see some crosswind takeoffs. At time 1:15 you'll note a plane “going around” — breaking off an approach so it can circle around for another landing attempt — because the pilot didn't like the way things were set up.

More here.