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4 Ways To Make Safer Landings In The Winter

Icy, snowy, and slippery runways are risks all winter. Here are some tips for your next flight.

1) Know the maximum crosswind component.

Most aircraft have a maximum demonstrated crosswind component. Under Part 91, this is not a limitation, but it is a firm guideline. If you are proficient in crosswinds stronger than the maximum demonstrated crosswind component, you can exceed the published value. But in the winter, that's not necessarily a good idea.

As a general guideline, establish personal crosswind limits that provide at least a 5-knot buffer from the maximum demonstrated crosswind when runway contamination is present.


2) Avoid contaminated runways.

Avoiding contaminated runways reduces your chances of losing directional control after landing. If the airport you're headed to has more than one runway, determine which runway has the best braking action with the least contamination, while considering the winds.

Runway braking conditions are published via NOTAMs and are often included in the ATIS. Determining braking action at smaller airports can be tricky as services are limited. Call the FBO before you leave, and if a UNICOM operator is present at the airport, check if they have any insight into the runway's condition.

Also, don't forget to take into account contamination types. A runway with dry compacted snow is going to have better braking action than a runway covered in wet snow or ice.


3) Ease up on the brakes.

As runway contamination increases, braking effectiveness decreases. When you land, don't be so quick to jump on the brakes. Utilize aerodynamic braking by ending your landing roll with full aft elevator, while maintaining light wheel braking. This will help eliminate possible loss of directional control and runway excursion.


4) Light control inputs.

This goes hand in hand with light braking. As braking action is reduced, so is controllability on the ground. Just like driving a car in the snow, your aircraft will have less traction on slick surfaces. Small, deliberate rudder inputs reduce your risk of loss of directional control. And when you exit the runway, slow down to a slow walking speed before you turn off the runway.


Take the next step.

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Ready to get started? Click here to purchase Mastering Takeoffs and Landings now.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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