Fear of flying? Don't watch this video

CRAIG PLATT
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2012
Fairfax Australia

A plane-spotter in Germany has captured amazing footage of planes landing in fierce crosswinds.

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If you're a nervous flyer, this will put the wind up you.

A video featuring spectacular airliner landings during strong winds at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany has gone viral, clocking up more than 1.5 million views less than three weeks.

The video, shot by German Martin Bogdan and posted to his 'Cargospotter' YouTube account, shows a number of airline jets attempting to land during strong crosswinds, one after the other, shot from the front of the runway.

Due to the strong winds, the jets approach the runway at unusual angles, occasionally tilting to compensate as they come in to land.

The video was shot on January 5 at the airport, early in the afternoon as a storm raged.

Mr Bogdan said the reaction to his video had been "incredible" and he had received great feedback from viewers all around the world.

While the footage is bound to strike fear into the hearts of nervous flyers, John Holmes, flight training manager for Ansett Aviation Training, says there's nothing to worry about.

Holmes, who is involved in training many Australian and foreign pilots including pilots for Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tiger Airways, says pilots can't get their licence unless they're able to cope with crosswind landings.

"Even for a basic licence, even for light aircraft, part of the requirement is you have to be able to land in crosswinds," he says.

"Looking at this video, the wind is possibly in the order of about 30 knots I'd say – so it's pretty strong."

In a post on YouTube, Mr Bogdan said the winds were about 35 knots, with gusts up to 55 knots.

Mr Holmes said that, despite the strong winds, pilots were still able to use automatic systems to complete landings.

"Auto-land functions on most modern aircraft can normally handle the crosswinds up to the maximum the aircraft is certified for … when you see the automation on an aircraft handle a crosswind landing, it's amazing."

While the aircraft in the video appear to almost hang in the air as the slowly come into land, Mr Holmes said this was likely an optical illusion caused by the angle the video was shot from.

Mr Holmes said Australia was reasonably fortunate that its airports generally didn't experience severe crosswinds. However, there was occasional "windshear," which can be caused by air-flow over nearby hills.

"That's a change of air direction and velocity on an aircraft on approach – and that can be quite exciting," he says with a laugh.

But he offered some words of assurance for nervous flyers.

"I think the video looks worse than it actually is – it's not unusual for pilots to land in a crosswind … it's not dangerous. The only time it can become a real problem is if the unexpected occurs, but pilots are always ready to open up the throttle, go around and have another go."

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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