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Cross wind and flaps

During the PPL course I was taught that in heavy crosswinds you can land without flaps or with medium flap setting (e.g. 10 or 20 degrees in a C172). However, mostly thanks to my home airport having crossing runways, during training we only used other than full flaps settings for training, not because we would have needed it due to crosswind.

No I have gathered about 80 hours of PIC experience with PPL and continued to use full flaps practically always and made successfull landings with C172 to crosswinds components of up to 14 kts succesfully. As I googled this issue earlier, I even found opinions, that one should always land with full flaps and if that’s not possible due to wind dicrection, its better to find another airfield…

My personal experience is that while wind blows steadily and there is a large airfield without much mechanical turbulence, the issue is not that important. However, with more gusting wind and/or lots of turbulence there probably are advantages in not using full flaps, however, as I have more routine in landing with full flaps, I’m reluctant to try another mehtod in real, perhaps unexpected crosswind landing.

So, tell me what is your practise with the flap setting in crosswind landing approaching demonstrated limits and why?

The POH is your friend here, as it depends on the type of aircraft what flap setting to use under what circumstances. In the C152 on which I learned, the procedure was to use partial flaps in gusting crosswinds. Same for the C172. In the Cirrus SR20 and SR22, you should always use full flaps in all conditions, which I recently tried at Bornholm and think it works well as a procedure. Same in the PA28, where I always use full flaps for landing. When I was new to the PA28, I tried with intermediary flaps in a crosswind and it was not a great experience. I then realized that it is not a recommended procedure in the handbook.

I suppose the difference is due to the fact that the last stage of flaps on a C172 only adds drag and almost no lift, different from other types of planes.

Crosswind landings should be part of any transition training to a new aircraft, and I would try to do this with an instructor by all means so you feel comfortable about how your plane flies in a crosswind.

Last Edited by Rwy20 at 07 Jul 12:27

There are two considerations:

  • The more flaps you set, the slower you will be on touchdown. The slower you are, the greater the influence of your crosswind will be. More crab angle, more bank angle/wings down close to the runway. Less time to straighten, more chances for the wind to blow you off centreline.
  • Strong and gusty crosswinds greatly increase the probabliliy that you will have to go-around, especially at the last moment and from a very low altitude. The more flaps you have set, the more difficult this will be, performance-wise.

Both lead (at least to me, but maybe I have been overlooking somthing…) to one conclusion: Use the least flaps possible as allowed by your POH. Been taught that way, been teaching that way, always flown that way, no problems ever.

Last Edited by what_next at 07 Jul 13:13
EDDS - Stuttgart

I only use Full Flaps with the SR22, and that’s perfectly fine. The last real one was with 30 knots of wind at a 60 degree angle … no problem. A no flap landing in a SR22 can very easily result in a very expensive tailstrike, i don’t even practice that anymore.

Flyer59 wrote:

The last real one was with 30 knots of wind at a 60 degree angle

That’s quite a lot, a 26kt crosswind component. Two knots more than my company allows me to land “my” Citation at… (Cessna themselves wouldn’t care, they only publish a “demonstrated crosswind component”). And if your aircraft needs to be landed with full flaps, then this is what you have to do. The same applies to the Citation, only full flap landings are “normal operation”.

I guess the SR22 can handle a very low go-around at maximum mass with full flaps easily. Some Pa28 Arrows are not so good at that which is why I don’t ever use full flaps with this kind of aircraft, even without a crosswind.

EDDS - Stuttgart

Because you are afraid of forgetting to retract the flaps or what? “Normally”, one would obviously reduce flaps right after the application of full power, from fully down to the second stage… then gear, then first stage and then fully up…

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

As others have already said – as per POH. I only use full flap if I need it (i.e. short field), the POH for the Cessnas I fly says ‘flaps as required’. I find this ‘always full flap’ teaching dangerous, as it really depends on aircraft and circumstances. In the Cessnas that have a 40dg flap setting, for example, a full-flap go-around is pretty tricky and not something you’d like to do in strong x-winds.

172driver wrote:

I find this ‘always full flap’ teaching dangerous, as it really depends on aircraft and circumstances.

Who would teach that?

Rwy20 wrote:

Who would teach that?

Apparently quite a few instructors, reading the various fora.

I fly a PA28 Piper Arrow II.

I’ve no problems with cross wind landings up to about 30kts full cross wind. Beyond that I’ll stay at home.

Normal landing technique for me is 25 degree flaps (second stage). In a strong cross wind I’ll use the same. I only use 40 degrees (full flap) if on a very short field, and I won’t normally mix a very short field with 25-30kt cross winds.

I think that there is a strong argument for saying that in a cross wind you should land using your normal flap setting, unless there is a compelling reason for a different one. You’re more likely to do a good landing/approach in a configuration that you are used to, and know the feel of the aircraft in.

EIWT Weston
55 Posts
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