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Home > Technical Questions > What are headwind, tailwind and crosswind?
What are headwind, tailwind and crosswind?
Pilot Career - Technical Questions
Sunday, 16 December 2007 19:15

Dear Captain Lim,

I would say that I am the luckiest man to have found your web site one day before my cadet pilot interview with Singapore Airlines (SIA). I have benefited a lot from the information in your web site. As a result, I was successful in the interviews with SIA and now I have been accepted as a cadet pilot.

My childhood dream has finally comes true! Thanks God and Captain Lim.

I have a few questions. Could you explain to me what are headwind, tailwind and crosswind? What are their significance in relation to flying the aircraft?

Thanks again Captain!

Best regards,

Melvin Chua,

Hi Melvin,

Congratulations on your success in getting into SIA as a cadet pilot!
When you start your flying training, you will get to know what is a head, tail or crosswind. Anyway, as their names suggest, a head wind is any wind blowing directly "head-on" or from the front and a tail wind is wind blowing from the back. A cross-wind is any wind blowing across from the left or right.
From a flying point of view, all these types of winds have great implications on the aircraft. For instance, on a Boeing 777, there are limitations imposed on the plane as to what is safe or unsafe for it to land or to take off. Thus, the maximum  tailwind component for the landing is 15 knots and the maximum crosswind is around 38 knots.

Pilots are more concerned with the cross and tail wind rather than the head wind. A tailwind requires a longer runway to land and a crosswind makes it more difficult to land. (Not to worry, you would be taught the various crosswind landing techniques at the flying school!).

A headwind is necessary for an aircraft to land because it reduces the landing speed, hence a shorter runway and less wear and tear on the brake pads. That is why, if you were look at the windsocks every time your plane makes a landing, the control tower would always choose a favorable runway into wind.


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airfield safety officer
Hi Captain,
Being an airfield safety officer, i have never been shown or made aware of the procedure of a pilot after landing and exiting a taxiway before entering a parking bay. Can you tell me briefly what is the normal procedure? Thanks
amit kumar pudaruth , 18 Nov, 2013

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