Techniques for Stopping a Large Jet Aircraft

Stopping a large jet aircraft is definitely no easy feat, not to mentioned safety is of utmost importance. To land a large aircraft properly takes a lot of skills and years of training and experience. The following discusses the techniques required for stopping a large jet aircraft.

In a normal landing without wind, or having the wind aligned directly with the runway, there is no force trying to push your aircraft off alignment from the runway. Engine thrust and the drag of the aircraft is aligned with the runway. The ailerons are hardly used as the pilots adjusts power and drag to lower the aircraft onto the runway.

In a cross wind landing where the wind pushes the aircraft off the runway alignment, the pilot needs to take necessary corrective action. This means that the pilot needs to turn the aircraft into the wind to a point where the aircraft would no longer be drifting sideways while keeping the aircraft aligned with the runway. The greater the angle of the wind, the greater the impact it has on the aircraft, thus requiring more corrective action by the pilot. If the appropriate corrective action is not applied, the aircraft will either land off the runway or will touch down while the aircraft has a sideways motion. This is very dangerous as it can result in loss of control of the aircraft and/or damage to the landing gear.

While nearing the runway, the aileron and rudder inputs will constantly change and the pilot will need to respond by making the necessary corrects required. In especially windy conditions, the inputs will go up and down as the wind gusts increases and decreases. In a cross wind landing, touchdown speed also need to be higher than normal as the pilot needs to drive the aircraft right to the ground. As the right main gear touches down, the pilot needs to keep the right aileron in as necessary but eases off the rudder bringing it to a neutral position. The aileron needs to be maintained into the wind until the aircraft slows down to taxi speed as the wind is still acting on the aircraft even though it is already on the runway.

On the aircraft is on the ground, the aircraft needs to be braked harder than normal to get the aircraft into a stable condition on the ground.

There is another technique where by the aircraft is straightened before it touches down. In this method the pilot rotates the landing aircraft into the wind as necessary to prevent drift, but maintains coordinated flight. The aircraft approaches the landing flare in line with the runway, but pointing towards the crosswind. Just before touchdown the pilot uses aileron and rudder to turn the aircraft back to runway alignment just as the aircraft touches down. Timing is key in this method because if this is done too early, or too late, the aircraft will land in a drifting condition.

In summary, the pilot needs to stay alert and be ready to respond to any changes in conditions whenever necessary. Once again, practical training and experience is key as no amount of theoretical knowledge alone can prepare the pilot enough for safe landings.