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Your First CRJ Crosswind Takeoff

Philbin Cockpit

Andy Philbin is a captain, line check airman and ground instructor for Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with a type rating for the CL-65 (Canadair Regional Jet) and is based in Washington, DC.

While working with Andy Philbin on our previous post about initial operating experience, he hit on the topic of crosswind takeoffs. "The only things that I find they [new first officers] have difficulty with, as far as flying goes, is crosswind takeoffs and maybe landings" said Philbin. That surprised me - I figured that landings could be a challenge, but I thought takeoffs would be pretty simple. After discussing the topic with him, I thought the issue would make a good post.

I asked Philbin how a crosswind takeoff in a CRJ is different than a crosswind takeoff in a Cessna 172. He replied, "There's absolutely nothing different. New pilots don't treat it [the CRJ] like an airplane, they treat it like something to be terrified of. They won't put corrections in."

It seems the same errors made during takeoff in a light aircraft can persist into the jet. During a crosswind takeoff, you begin your takeoff roll with ailerons into the wind, using aerodynamic pressure to prevent the upwind wing from raising prematurely. In the CRJ, it's no different. Just like in the 172, "you start with full aileron into the wind and, when the wing starts to come alive, you take it out as appropriate."

CRJ Takeoff

Compared to a Cessna 172, the CRJ can handle quite a crosswind component. The CRJ has a maximum demonstrated crosswind component of 27 knots on a dry runway and 24 knots on a wet runway, and can handle up to a 15 knot crosswind component on an ice covered runway.

In crosswinds greater than 15 knots, winds could cause an engine flameout on takeoff. At slow speeds, the variation in airflow caused by the crosswind could disrupt the flow through the engine, effectively "blowing out the flame." To prevent this, pilots use continuous ignition, immediately relighting the engine in the event the airflow becomes disrupted.

Pilots also execute a standing takeoff during high crosswinds to prevent an engine flameout. The crew waits for the power to reach 5% below the required N1 takeoff setting before releasing the brakes. This allows the engine to generate enough airflow to prevent a wind change from flaming out the engine.

In the CRJ, basic flying technique still applies, even if the limitations are higher and the procedures are a bit different.

Aleks Udris

Aleks is a Boldmethod co-founder and technical director. He's worked in safety and operations in the airline industry, and was a flight instructor and course manager for the University of North Dakota. You can reach him at aleks@boldmethod.com.

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