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There is a video going viral here of a Dash8 landing during a recent media hyped storm:

According to the description and imagery it is a Dash8 Q400 (registration D-ABQD), Eurowings flight EW9203. It did land during a storm with alleged 110km/h (60 kts) crosswind on Düsseldorf airport.

According to https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/ew9203 it landed at 12:13 local time on 18.01.2018, runway 23L or 23R. Within the video it is claimed that there is wind up to 110km/h whereas other sources from other places claim more like 80-90kmh (43-40kts), it probably varied by the minute.

Wind direction seems to have been mostly from west, with storm typical quick variations.

The crosswind limit for the Dash8 Q400 seems to be 32knt, quite below any of the cited wind speeds, however given the angle difference (230 to 270) a cited wind speed of ~50knt would have been just within the limit.

TL;DR

If there was the possibility of going to another airport (I have no idea if there was), should the pilot have diverted to a less windy area for safety reasons?

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    $\begingroup$ I actually had a look here last night to see if this question would show up. The first plane actually surprised me that they didn't go around - could have been gusts but it looked like some serious PIO just short of touchdown. I've been in plenty of rocky rides in a Dash 8, of course - surely they're a tough little plane and can take a good beating but any Dash 8 pilots have a take on that? $\endgroup$ – J... Jan 23 '18 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ "it probably varied by the minute" If that's the storm from last week, it varied almost by the second in some places. Peaks were high, people got lifted from the streets and boats lifted from the water. If the pilot had a window of opportunity, a moment of relatively low wind, making use of it is the best decision he could've made. The same place a couple minutes later may have been much worse. $\endgroup$ – Mast Jan 23 '18 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ They called this stabilized approach??? $\endgroup$ – Vladimir F Jan 23 '18 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ To be pedantic, that's a landing and not an approach. Approach usually describes an instrument approach. $\endgroup$ – Steve Kuo Jan 23 '18 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ I've seen (and did personally) much more rough-looking landings with gliders. Of course, gliders are shaken much more at much less wind strengths... Just to give a reference, one ended with the glider turning almost 90° to the right after touchdown, with a full left rudder. (managed to keep the wings in the air until a complete stop, so nothing was damaged) $\endgroup$ – vsz Jan 23 '18 at 21:35
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The relevant TAF that the pilot would have seen before going there is below (only showing the bits for the time of landing):

TAF AMD EDDL 180929Z 1809/1912 22025G40KT 9999 SCT035
TEMPO 1809/1813 26035G50KT
PROB30 TEMPO 1809/1813 26045G65KT SHRAGS BKN015CB

So the pilot was aware of a strong cross wind possiblity, but even 26065KT is 27 kt crosswind (runway is 233) which is within the limits of the plane. So there was no reason to divert before getting there.

The metars just before and after the landing are below:

METAR EDDL 181050Z 27045KT 9999 SCT037 BKN043 08/00 Q0993 TEMPO 27045G55KT=
METAR EDDL 181120Z 27034G48KT 9999 -RA SCT028 BKN038 07/01 Q0995 TEMPO 27045G55KT=

So the "baseline" was 27045KT, i.e. 27KT crosswind, and the maximum gust wind was 27055KT, or 33kts crosswind, just 1 kt above the plane limit.

Note that the metar wind indications are rounded to the closest 10 degrees, so the worst case could have been a wind from 274 degrees gusting at 55 kts, or 36 kts crosswind.

We can assume that the pilot decided to continue the approach based on the wind information provided by the tower.

Whether the pilot should have aborted at the last second because the landing was not going as planned is hard to gauge on a video, but based on the information we have, the wind parameters were ok.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm slightly confused here, you and @Federico are using different parts of the metar and coming to different conclusions about being just under/over the limit. $\endgroup$ – Dan Neely Jan 23 '18 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ @DanNeely Looks to me like assylias is using the worst-case data to conclude that winds were just over the limit; and Federico is using best-case data to conclude that winds were slightly below the limit. (I'm still getting METARs figured out, so take this with an appropriate amount of salt.) When you're right at the edge of the allowed flight envelope, small differences like this can easily tip the scale to "above" or "below" the limit, with neither answer necessarily being wrong. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 23 '18 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ @DanNeely TEMPO is used to refer to expected temporary fluctuations in the conditions during the valid period of the METAR/TAF. So, while the prevailing conditions may have been 45 kt before the storm's arrival, during the storm it could have been 45 kt gusting 55 kt. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jan 23 '18 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ Well, tables for maximal crosswind is one thing and turbulence and stabilized approach a different thing. $\endgroup$ – Vladimir F Jan 23 '18 at 16:03
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I might close this one as it’s going to be opinion based. The ‘danger’ of the approach is based upon a number of factors and not just pure numbers collected from an AWOS station on the field and a DEMONSTRATED crosswind component in a Q400 AFM. It also requires factoring in ambient weather conditions in the area, worst case conditions which might be indicated by the meteorological information, company SOPs, pilot proficiency in strong crosswind landings, and aeronautical experience operating from a particular airport.

Is the approach risky in these conditions? Yes. Or, better put, the weather presents an increased consumption of crew resources and requires good discernment and judgment as to whether the crew is capable of safely executing the landing given these conditions.

Düsseldorf Intl. (EDDL) is notorious for high, gusting winds during storms, which is what makes it a favorite of avgeeks to go down there and shoot videos of jets struggling to takeoff and land out there in these conditions. Given the historical treachery of the environment there, local METARS indicating thunderstorms in the area and gale force winds with gust factors as high as 20 knots, it’s a good guess that the environment at that airport that day would have really been pushing the boundaries of what would be safe or prudent for air carrier flight operations. You also have to keep in mind the following.

  • The METAR data comes from an AWOS station somewhere on the field and can only measure the weather and wind conditions in its immediate vicinity. This is not necessarily an authentic description of wind conditions on final approach or over the runway itself.

  • The METARs over the area do indicate the presence of thunderstorms in the vicinity and strong possibly of low level wind shear. Add to this common conditions caused during weather like this at that airport ie turbulent air burbles and eddies across the approach flightpath caused by nearby terrain, buildings, etc., and the approach will almost certainly be difficult.

  • The flight crew’s proficiency and recency of experience in executing strong crosswind landings will have to be accounted for. A Bombardier test pilot operating a brand new Q400 made a 34kt crosswind landing? Fine. It’s also meaningless here if this particular flight crew does not have the skill to land in those conditions as well. How long has it been since this aircrew handled a strong gusting crosswind landings? How proficient are they at this kind of a landing and do they have additional crew resources to handle additional contingencies should they arise?

  • And then there are emergencies. Lose an engine during this kind of approach at or very near roundout and you could really be in deep trouble for maintaining directional control of the aircraft.

At the end of the day it’s up to the flight crew to make the call. As a pilot myself and based upon these conditions at the destination combined with the responsibility for the lives of the 60 or so passengers in the back, I would have diverted to another airport. Are the passengers not happy with that decision? Give ‘em a free steak dinner and a travel voucher good for future flights on the airline and book them on a later flight to EDDL when the weather improves. Better inconvenienced than in an accident.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for actually discussing the dangers, rather than just citing wind measurements and published limitations. And for putting a high value on the safety of the people in your plane. $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 Jan 24 '18 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ I would also agree this is too opinion based. Although the question could be reworded to ask what factors a pilot might consider when flying into known crosswind conditions, although I suspect such a question has probably already been asked. $\endgroup$ – ksea Jan 24 '18 at 19:17
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According to https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/ew9203 it landed at 12:13 local time on 18.01.2018, runway 23L or 23R.

the METARs for that timeframe say (emphasis mine)

201801181050 METAR EDDL 181050Z 27045KT 9999 SCT037 BKN043 08/00 Q0993 TEMPO 27045G55KT=
201801181120 METAR EDDL 181120Z 27034G48KT 9999 -RA SCT028 BKN038 07/01 Q0995 TEMPO 27045G55KT=

So we have the average wind slightly decreasing from 45 to 34 kts in that timeframe (remember that METARS are in UTC), while the gusts slightly increase the worst case scenario from 45 to 48 kts.

Now, the pilots would not have had the second METAR, released minutes after they landed, and based on the information of the first METAR, we have:

this gives $45 \cdot \sin(37°)$ that results in slightly more than 27 kts of sidewind, less than the crosswind limit of 32 you mention.

Even in the worst case scenario, using round numbers, $45 \cdot \sin(40°)$ leads to 29 kts of sidewind, still below the limit.

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I am also a pilot (single engine land, instrument) and while I've done some pretty heinous crosswind landings myself, I've always been near the CG of my aircraft. The first thing I noticed in that video was the speed at which the rear of the fuselage was moving at times - I suspect that even with all passengers buckled, there were some minor injuries in the cabin.

That said, I am with the other pilots in this thread - we were not in the cockpit, we don't have the information that crew had, nor knowledge of any extenuating or mitigating circumstances so any judgements made here are pure conjecture.

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