Pilot's tip of the week

Adjusting Vref for Gusty Winds


Subscriber question:

"I would like to hear a discussion of adjusting final landing approach speed in relation to ambient wind and gust factors." - Alex L.


“One procedure is to use the normal approach speed plus one-half of the wind gust factor.

Adjusting VrefIf the normal approach speed is 70 knots and the wind is 10 knots gusting to 25 knots, the gust factor is 15 knots. Half of that would be about 7 or 8 knots. Therefore, an airspeed of about 77 or 78 knots would be appropriate. In any case, the airspeed and amount of flaps should be as the airplane manufacturer recommends.

To maintain good control, the approach in turbulent air with gusty crosswinds may require the use of partial wing flaps. With less than full flaps, the airplane will be at a higher pitch attitude. Thus, it will require less of a pitch change to establish the landing attitude, and the touchdown will be at a higher airspeed to ensure more positive control.

The speed should not be so excessive that the airplane will float past the desired landing area. Remember that stall speed may be higher with partial flaps which may dictate an increase in approach speed even before adding the gust factor.

Know your aircraft’s approach speeds in various configurations and practice using them before you have to employ them in an actual gusty situation.”