Ask the Captain: How do you land a plane in rapidly changing crosswinds?

How do you manage to land in the middle of the runway with rapidly varying cross winds?

– a1fix_it1, Canada

During crosswinds, you control the track of the airplane by adjusting the heading, this is known as crabbing.

As the airplane nears touchdown, the pilot usually will apply rudder to swing the nose to near the runway heading. Once the crab is reduced and the nose swings, the airplane will begins to drift toward the downwind side of the runway. For this reason, many pilot will line up on the upwind side for the runway, allowing that drift to put them near the centerline at touchdown. 

Maintaining centerline track takes experience, but professional pilots do it frequently. 

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