CHAPTER 11. Approaches and Landings

Effect of Headwinds During Final Approach

A headwind plays a prominent role in the gliding distance over the ground. Strong headwinds decrease the glide as shown in the comparison in Figure 11-16A with no wind normal glide versus Figure 11-16B in headwind with steeper glide. To account for a steeper glide in a headwind, the base leg must be positioned closer to the approach end of the runway than would be required with a light wind. Therefore,

the base leg must be made closer to the runway to land in the intended area in a headwind. [Figure 11-16 C] However, if more headwind is experienced during fi nal approach, increased power is required to make the intended landing area. [Figure 11-16 D]

Naturally, the pilot does not have control over the wind but may correct for its effect on the aircraft’s descent by adjusting the base leg of the pattern. The wind can vary signifi cantly at different attitudes and locations in the pattern. If the pilot does not notice the headwind until the base leg, the base leg should be cut short and the pilot should head towards the runway sooner. This would provide the best possibility of making the runway if there is an engine failure in this situation. [Figure 11-17]

Additionally, during strong headwinds, more energy (power and airspeed) should be used since the wind gradient (slowing of the wind near the ground because of the friction of the ground) could reduce the airspeed and cause a stall on approach near the ground in higher winds.

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