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How Maximum Demonstrated Crosswind Is Calculated

Do you know what speed is used to calculate maximum demonstrated crosswind? Here's how it's calculated...

Boldmethod

What Is The Maximum "Safe" Crosswind?

Strong crosswinds can be a challenge for new students and professional pilots alike, especially if you haven't practiced them in awhile.

As you begin your round out and flare, your plane slows down, which also means your flight controls are less effective. Because your flight controls are less effective, you need to add more rudder to keep your nose aligned with the runway, and at the same time add more aileron to keep yourself from drifting off the centerline.

So how do you know what crosswind velocity is safe, and how much is too much crosswind?

The FAA covers the basics behind maximum safe crosswinds in Chapter 8-17 of the Airplane Flying Handbook. And, the following chart was developed by the FAA to emphasize the hazards associated with intensifying crosswind conditions:

FAA

FAA Type Certification Requirements: Maximum Demonstrated Crosswind

Every airplane type certificated by the FAA must first be flight tested to meet hundreds of airworthiness requirements.

One of those requirements is a demonstration of crosswind controllability, and more specifically, how the aerodynamics of the airplane allows pilots "with no exceptional skill or alertness" to safely take off and land in crosswind conditions.

The test pilot must be able to control the airplane in 90-degree crosswinds not less than a velocity equal to 0.2 Vso, or the stalling speed of the aircraft in a landing configuration. That's a windspeed equal to at least 20% of the power-off landing configuration stalling speed. Keep in mind, manufacturers can test aircraft at crosswind velocities higher than 0.2 Vso (and they often do), but that's the minimum speed.

In addition to the 0.2 Vso limitation, "The airplane must be satisfactorily controllable in power-off landings at normal landing speed, without using brakes or engine power to maintain a straight path until the speed has decreased to at least 50 percent of the speed at touchdown." (FAA)

Finally, every airplane certificated after May 3rd, 1962 is required to have a "demonstrated crosswind velocity" placard inside the airplane.

Here are a few examples of maximum demonstrated crosswind components for various aircraft, assuming a dry runway:

  • Cub Crafters CC11 Carbon Cub: 11 Knots
  • Cessna C172 Skyhawk: 15 Knots
  • Malibu Mirage: 17 Knots
  • Cirrus SR22T G6: 21 Knots
  • Cessna C208 Caravan: 20 Knots
  • Bombardier CRJ-200: 27 Knots
  • Boeing 757/767: 40 Knots

Exceeding "Maximum Demonstrated Crosswind"

Most corporate/airline flight departments and flight schools have specific policies prohibiting pilots from landing or taking off above the maximum demonstrated crosswind value. Additionally, there are often more conservative limits established for poor runway conditions and limited visibility.

But if you don't have guidance beyond the POH's maximum demonstrated crosswind component, is it OK to land in stronger crosswinds?

As a Part 91 pilot, there's nothing that prevents you from landing in crosswinds stronger than the maximum demonstrated crosswind, and many pilots do. That being said, you need to be a proficient pilot to safely land in crosswinds stronger than the maximum demonstrated crosswind.

Think twice before accepting a clearance that puts you beyond the maximum component. If you're not feeling completely comfortable with a strong crosswind, the safest thing you can do is use another runway, wait for the conditions to improve, or divert.

Estimating Your Crosswind Component

Your headwind component and the crosswind component for takeoff and landing can be calculated by using a crosswind component chart like the one below:

FAA

When you're on the ground, it's easy to use the crosswind chart in your POH, or an E6B. But when you're in the air, neither of those options are very practical. Lucky for all of us, there's an easier way. Here are 3 crosswind rules-of-thumb:

  • If the wind is 30 degrees off the runway, your crosswind component is about 50% of the wind speed.
  • If the wind is 45 degrees off the runway, the crosswind component is about 75% of the wind speed.
  • And if the wind is 60 degrees or more off the runway, the crosswind component is roughly the same as the total wind.

Follow this rule-of-thumb to give yourself extra buffer-room for stronger wind than reported.

What's Your Strategy?

Do you have a personal limit established for crosswinds? What's the strongest crosswind you've encountered? Tell us in the comments below.

Take The Next Step...

Do you have a perfect takeoff and landing every time? Neither do we. That's why we built our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course.

You'll learn strategies, tactics and fundamental principles that you can use on your next flight, and just about any takeoff or landing scenario you could imagine. Even better, the course is full of tools you can come back to throughout your flying career.


Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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