Etihad scolds hero A380 pilots for spectacular landing

4582
March 04, 2020
ETIHAD

Etihad Airways has scolded its “hero A380 pilots” for the spectacular landing at Heathrow during storm Dennis on February 16.

The video posted to YouTube has been seen over 2.5 million times and broadcast by television stations across the globe.

SEE: Stunning air-to-air video of 777X’s first flight.

SEE: Stunning pictures of the Himalayas in spring from 747 pilot.

The airline’s Manager of Flight Crew Training has however sent a memo to all pilots, obtained by AirlineRatings.com, saying this landing was not what the airline wants to see.

“The official view from the Training Department is a simple one – THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WANT TO SEE. There is a time to give an approach away in the interest of safety,” the memo said.

“If you see such a thing in the sim (Simulator) it would be a grade of 1 (out of 10)….”

The A380 has a crosswind capability of 40kts and a crosswind autoland capability of 30kts but some pilots told AirlineRattings that it should not be used used in such conditions “as the response time from a pilot is far quicker.”

However, Claude Lelaie, former Airbus test pilot of 23 years, who spent 14 years as head of flight tests told AirlineRatings.com yesterday that;

1 – We performed 6 landings (in the A380) at Keflavik (Iceland) with max gusts crosswind 56 kt and average wind well above 40 knots. The maximum deviation was 5.4 meters, which demonstrates that crosswind landing is not difficult. It has been limited to 35 knots for various reasons (mainly fan blades vibrations).

2 – It is completely wrong to say that autopilot should not be used. The AP is tuned to perfectly synchronize the flare and the decrab. It does that far more precisely than most of the pilots. I remember a certification flight with a crosswind on the A340-600. 13 autoland perfectly on the centerline, and a last manual landing by a very good certification pilot with a deviation!”

Here is the video again.

Where a pilot faces a crosswind landing they need to point the aircraft in the direction of the wind while maintaining a straight course toward the runway.

This is called crabbing or yawing.

In strong crosswinds, the pilot may also dip the wing – sideslip – into the direction of the wind.

Just before touchdown pilots apply rudder to bring the plane – and its undercarriage – back so it is aligned straight down the centerline of the runway.

This takes great skill and the results – if not done properly – are often quite spectacular as shown in the video of the Etihad A380, where the pilot did not straighten up before touching down.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I think the airplane approach and landing was made on autopilot and it did exactly what it was certified to do. The pilots monitored the approach and landing.
  2. If the pilot exceeded the limits, there should be the usual action. If it was within limits, there is no problem. Management should consider one of two options. 1. Stop flying to the UK where these conditions happen regularly. 2. How about an extra $50k-$100k to divert to another suitable airport (if one is available) and inconvenience the passengers.
  3. In fact, while the A380 autopilot is certified to a crosswind of 30kts, the pilots were not - and should never be - using it in these conditions as the response from a pilot is far quicker.
  4. I spent 23 years at Airbus as test pilot including 14 years as head of flight of flight tests. This is my opinion: 1 - We performed 6 landing at Keflavik with max gusts crosswind 56 kt and average wind well above 40 kts. The maximum deviation was 5.4 mters, which demonstrates that crosswind landind is not difficult. It has been limited to 35 kts for various reasons (mainly fan blades vibrations). 2 - It is completely wrong to say that autopilot should not be used. The AP is tuned to perfectly synchronize the flare and the decrab. It does that far more precisely than most of the pilots. I remember a certification flight with crosswind on the A340-600. 13 autoland perfectly on the center line, and a last manual landing by a very good certification pilot with a deviation!
  5. This is a testament to the engineers who build the airplane. It looks like the pilots landed with a crab angle and didn't even attempt to straighten it out. Calling this heroism is ridiculous. There is nothing heroic about smashing a perfectly good airplane sideways onto the runway. The airline is right in admonishing the pilots for their lack of skill. If it were my own airplane, those pilots would be looking for another job.
  6. Thank you so much, Claude, for your valuable input. Our comment about the use of the autopilot in cross wind came from both a Singapore and Qantas A380 captains. We will add your comments to our story.