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Let's say we have a Cessna 150 or some other lightweight two seater and no chance to land with head wind for whatever reason. We're trying to land with a constant tailwind of 7 knots. I would try to land as close to stall speed as possible to compensate the tailwind. So much for the theory. In reality, the wind is not constant. If I'm close to stall, dying wind will give me trouble. What's a general good approach for such situations? What configuration would you choose? If the runway is very long, one can just go faster. But often, runways are rather short.

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4 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Land normally. Check your POH (Pilot Operating Handbook) first to ensure you have enough runway including the extra needed for a tailwind. The only thing to watch out for is that winds tend to moderate as you get closer to the ground. In a headwind landing, the relative wind will decrease, In a tailwind landing the relative wind will increase, so there will be an increased tendency to float way down the runway. Be on speed for a short field landing technique.

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If the absolute velocity of the tailwind were to decrease as you neared the ground, you should use less runway than if it stayed steady. Your airspeed will remain the same, but your ground speed will decrease as the tailwind decreases. –  Wayne Conrad Feb 16 at 13:51
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oh no! Not really. Inertia will still have you moving forward and your IAS will (momentarily) increase. It will take a few seconds for the airplane to reduce back to it's original IAS –  Radu094 Feb 27 at 13:13
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You should never try to land "as close to stall speed as possible".

Manufacturers have a recommended approach and landing speed for a reason. It is a compromise between a safe margin over stall speed, aircraft controllability, and landing distance. You should use their experience with the airplane by following their recommendations. Sometimes they have adjustments because of the wind, sometimes they don't because they don't feel that they are necessary.

Follow the recommended procedures and the POH/AFM will tell you the performance that you can expect. Do anything else and you are flying in an uncharted area (literally) and can find yourself in trouble.

Also, make sure that you check to see if there is a limitation for a maximum tailwind component for the specific airplane. If you exceed this, you can run into controlability issues or exceed the maximum speed that the tire is rated for.

In short, just fly by the book and be aware that you will use more runway so be sure to check the operating handbook to stay safe.

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By "as close to stall speed as possible" I of course meant the recommended speeds. –  Krumelur Jan 1 at 0:07
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Well, the recommended landing speed is usually 30% above the stall speed, so those are very different speeds. :-) –  Lnafziger Jan 1 at 0:50
    
@Lnafziger: That's definitely the case for all jets and any other airliners, but I've seen instruction videos for small planes saying stall warning should go off during flare and while propeller aircraft decelerate faster, loosing 30% of speed from threshold to touch down sounds to me as too much, especially since it's in ground effect. –  Jan Hudec Feb 27 at 13:42
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@JanHudec I still stand by my answer: use what is in the POH/AFM for the airplane, whatever that value may be. :) –  Lnafziger Feb 27 at 13:48
    
@Lnafziger: Definitely. –  Jan Hudec Feb 27 at 13:51
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One thing that is an eye opener to people in regard to tailwind landings is when I ask them about wind gradients at low altitudes:

Wind is actually (supposed to be) measured about 10 meters above the runway. Because of surface friction that wind speed is going to decrease dramatically as you approach the runway surface. If that wind is a tailwind, as you approach the runway and flare your tailwind decreases and your indicated airspeed does what? increases, that's right.

So not only your ground speed is higher, but you just got a speed bump during your flare leading to a longer float.

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Land normally per the POH is the correct answer per accepted answer. Just remember that your ground speed will be faster and roll out will be longer. You'll pass the turnoff you usually make with a headwind.

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