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I'm learning in a Tomahawk. They have a maximum demonstrated crosswind component of 15 knots. My school has a limit of 12 kt, but will only allow students to fly in 50% of that, so 6 kt.

Since it's very windy where I live, that's not going to allow to get out much over the winter.

So, once I am allowed to solo, what can I realistically push the limit to? I have read of people getting away with close to 20. I just want to get out as much as possible. I understand this might increase the risk slightly of an incident.

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marked as duplicate by Pondlife, Ralph J, fooot, Sean, xxavier Nov 19 '18 at 8:46

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, you've come a long way from your "FoF". Scared to get in an aircraft to exceeding crosswind limits in, what, 6 months(ish)? $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Nov 14 '18 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec Also, after listening to the ATC of the recent engineer who hijacked and crashed the plane after doing a few somersaults... I think there would be something euphoric about going 'that way'. So I'm not scared anymore $\endgroup$ – Cloud Nov 14 '18 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec Never mind the fact that two weeks ago, OP was learning to fly an Ikarus-C42, and now they're in a Tomahawk. Those are quite different. And their first ever flight lesson was in the second half of October, if I read another question correctly. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 14 '18 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ "I think there would be something euphoric about going 'that way'." And this is another very strong reason not to become a pilot. Simply put, you've gone from afraid to suicidal. Get out of the cockpit. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Nov 14 '18 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ "Also, after listening to the ATC of the recent engineer who hijacked and crashed the plane after doing a few somersaults... I think there would be something euphoric about going 'that way'. So I'm not scared anymore"-- well, government agents will be knocking at your door soon. I'm sure you won't be allowed to rent an aircraft anywhere, ever again. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Nov 14 '18 at 13:42
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What do you think will happen if your instructor checks your logbook and sees that you soloed on a day when the crosswind never got below, say 10 kt (a bit more than half again the student limit, but below the school limit, so you might manage to check the airplane out of the hangar)? Even if you "get away with it", those limits were put there for your safety, and to protect an airplane you don't own.

In fact, if "what can I get away with" is your general approach to things, you might want to reconsider becoming a pilot. They truthfully say "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there aren't many old, bold pilots."

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Besides safety (which I completely agree with the other answers) major considerations for keeping to limits are insurance coverage and staying within regulation:

  • If you willfully exceed limits and have an accident your insurer may not cover the costs as they expect pilots to act responsibly and reasonably. Flying 10 knots over the demonstrated limit gives them an out, some would say rightfully so
  • Every set of flying regulations I know of gives authorities a way to pull your ticket if you are caught flying irresponsibly. In the US it's FAR 91.13 pertaining to "careless OR reckless" operation of an aircraft, in the UK the CAA has a similar rule although I can't remember the exact wording of it. Although these rules are open to interpretation flying an airplane in conditions the airplane and/or pilot cannot handle would be considered reckless
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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. Probably a pilot "willfully" and "deliberately" disregarding a limitation imposed by the owner of the aircraft would be subject to the "reckless" provision of 91.13. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Nov 15 '18 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @757toga OP has given their location previously as being in the UK, so no 91.13 for them. Highly likely other, similar regulations, though. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 15 '18 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ @CVn - I did not know that the OP was operating in the UK. However, my comment still remains. Here is the UK reg: SERA.3101 Negligent or Reckless Operation of Aircraft An aircraft shall not be operated in a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger life or property of others. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Nov 15 '18 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @757toga Indeed, and as I said, very similar. LAPL vs PPL - Which is more suitable? gives OP's location as "The training will take place in the UK, although I will be moving to France shortly after obtaining either license." on Oct 5. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 15 '18 at 15:40
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You can "push the limit" to whatever you feel comfortable with. You can even push it beyond the demonstrated limit if you're inclined to do so. Don't expect many people to rent you their aircraft for very long (assuming it survives) if you continue to do so.

Just yesterday I went out an practiced my crosswind technique by doing a bunch of circuits in a PA28 (pretty similar to the tomahawk you're flying) an a varying 6-15kt wind almost completely across the runway. It was not pleasant, it was not fun. I would not choose to fly often in those conditions - being that I still consider myself pretty inexperienced at ~200hrs. For a very low hours pre-solo pilot to even consider it is, in my opinion, nuts. It's completely the wrong attitude to safety.

However, for what it's worth, we live with the same UK weather and I can tell you there is a load of good flying over the winter months. Most of our wind is prevailing westerly, and most of our airstrips are oriented East/West for exactly that reason. Your limiting factor will be cloud base, not wind, most of the time and no amount of bravado (stupidity!) will let you fly in that under VFR.

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    $\begingroup$ Wholeheartedly second the bravado/stupidity dichotomy. One difference between PA-28 and PA-38 is asymmetric stall nastiness. I wouldn’t want to venture close to any low speed asymmetric stuff in a Tomahawk. $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds Nov 14 '18 at 22:05
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You should never exceed any limit on purpose. Whether or not it is a limit set by your responsible CFI, the owner of the airplane, a manufacturer or yourself.

Flying an airplane, helicopter, glider, etc., safely always requires a focus on precision and an attitude of professionalism.

Pondering how much beyond a stipulated limitation you can go is not a characteristic associated with someone who will have a successful career as a professional pilot or one who will be flying in the same skies with professional pilots.

Attitude, discipline and professional integrity.

My two cents.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most POHs describe the value as "maximum demonstrated crosswind component", and does not use the term "limit"; It means that an expert test-pilot was able to maintain control at that crosswind component. "Limits" are values above which the airplane will actually fail to perform. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Nov 14 '18 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ @abelenky - If the OPs school limits the crosswind component, for a professional (in my opinion), that's the limit. Whether or not it's an FAR required limitation a disciplined, sophisticated pilot will adhere to the restriction. After all, it's there for a reason. Again, safety is founded in large measure on an attitude and the willingness to exceed a legitimate limit imposed for what ever reason is telling on how you might approach safety limits in your future flying habits. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Nov 14 '18 at 22:28
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There is no way we can tell you by how much you will be able to exceed your school's limits without risking damage to the airframe or other property, or injury to yourself or others.

Maximum demonstrated crosswind component means just that: maximum demonstrated. However, limits are set for a reason.

Yes, a good pilot might well be able to exceed the maximum demonstrated crosswind component and still fly, and land, without damaging anything. (Notice that I very deliberately do not say "safely" here.) Maximum demonstrated crosswind is supposed to be managable by ordinary human pilots, not requiring test-pilot skill levels or superhuman reflexes. Even limit speeds and loads are set with a safety margin in part because everyone screws up once in a while, even when trying to operate the aircraft correctly and within limits. That such safety margins exist doesn't mean that planning to exceed specified limits is a good idea.

Being allowed to solo during training doesn't mean being allowed to fly on your own accord. You'll still need to coordinate with your instructor, and if where you're learning to fly is anything like what it's like for me, the instructor will be watching and be just a radio call away while you're solo, just in case something goes wrong. Even longer-distance flying ("cross-country") solo before you have your license will require coordinating with your instructor, and you will almost certainly be limited in which airports you are allowed to fly to, precisely because the instructor needs to be certain that you can handle the conditions there. See Part-FCL.020(a).

Limits are set the way they are for a reason. Respect them. Go ahead and discuss with your instructor the reasons why those limits are what they are if you want to, but go into, and out of, that discussion with the knowledge that if you exceed them, you might get away with it some of the time, but you won't get away with it every time, and if you don't get away with it, the results can very easily get really ugly. Best case, you'll find yourself doing something like a dozen go-arounds in a row because you can't stabilize the approach well enough and don't have a well-established alternate you can go to. At that point, and with the fuel gauge needle heading steadily toward the red, will you be able to hold back the get-there-itis? What will that do to your ability to attempt to land the aircraft safely?

Quite frankly, if this question is indicative of your attitude towards aviation safety, then please do yourself, and others, a favor and stop piloting. You are going to get into an incident, or an accident. It's not a theoretical "slightly increased risk"; it's a very real thing. The simple fact is that landing with even a moderate crosswind (even more so if it's gusty, as it often is) is precision maneuvering at highway speeds, in a flight regime where you have the least precision available and the least margin within which to recover from an error.

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    $\begingroup$ "precision maneuvering at highway speeds" is also near the minimum flying speed of the aircraft, precisely the regime in which you have the least precision available -- limited control authority, limited acceleration, limited margin above stall -- as you say, it's asking to become a statistic. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Nov 14 '18 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ "You'll still need to coordinate with your instructor, and if where you're learning to fly is anything like what it's like for me, the instructor will be watching and be just a radio call away while you're solo, just in case something goes wrong."-- obviously where this person (original asker of question) is flying, an instructor sign-off for solo is considered a ticket for unlimited unsupervised flying-- $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Nov 14 '18 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ @quietflyer "obviously where [OP] is flying, an instructor sign-off for solo is considered a ticket for unlimited unsupervised flying" Or, more likely, they don't know what being allowed to solo under training actually means. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 14 '18 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ (I'd rather think that they are ignorant than that they are deliberately trolling.) $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 14 '18 at 13:45
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After receiving copious amounts of admonition for considering the "real" cross wind capabilities of your aircraft, I would add, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING ALLOWED TO SOLO! ANYTHING NEAR THE LIMITS OF THE SAFE ENVELOPE OF YOUR AIRCRAFT SHOULD BE CHECKED WITH AN EXPERIENCED INSTRUCTOR !!!

However, just like stalls, why not test AT ALTITUDE!

The cross wind limit of an aircraft is based on its ability to safely hold a straight line while landing.

Lawyers have figured out more money can be made sueing richer companies. People who write your POH know this and will tend to be conservative about published values.

DO NOT DO THIS ALONE! Go up with an experienced pilot to a safe altitude on a windy day and try to hold a ground track at slower and slower speed until you get down to your approach and landing speed.

A crab-kick out technique will probably be the best way to go. You will find it is harder and harder to hold the line the slower you go. Be ready with throttle, as wind may drasticly affect your ground speed and time in pattern. Try "landing" at 2000 feet AGL. BE AWARE a gust from the wrong direction could result in a fatal stall/spin near the ground and landing in winds is far more dangerous.

This is great info to have in your "tool kit", expanding your knowledge envelope. Get that info at altitude with a good instructor! But respect the weather, one crash is one too many.

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    $\begingroup$ "The cross wind limit of an aircraft is based on its ability to safely hold a straight line while landing."-- we could add the phrase "while keeping the wheels aligned with the runway. So- what are you envisioning? At altitude, as you slow down, how do you know if you are staying on the desired ground track with +/-10' or so of precision that is required to stay anywhere near the centerline of the runway? In other words, how do you know that you've succesfully eliminated the very small deviations in ground track that we call "drift",which are trying to run your plane off the edge of the rnwy? $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Nov 14 '18 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ I can see how watching a GPS track could give you some idea of the maximum crosswind component which still allows you to bring your aircraft's heading into alignment with the ground track or vice versa-- which is the definition of a crosswind landing with no "drift". You wouldn't want to land with MORE than that much xwind component, but as to whether you can really fly with enough precision to have a good landing with that much component, may be another question. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Nov 14 '18 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ Still, good suggestion to do some experimenting at altitude.. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Nov 14 '18 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ Still, good suggestion to do some experimenting at altitude.Seems to me this pertains more to x-controlled slip than kick-out-the-crab technique. A cross-controlled slip can be maintained indefinitely, allowing you to check that your GPS ground track really is aligned with the a/c heading. It seems less clear how to practice kick-out-the-crab at altitude--should be no problem to adjust heading slightly to hold any desired ground track as you decelerate w/ xwind while flying in a coordinated manner-- then near stall speed, try to kick nose into alignment with ground track and see what happens? $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Nov 14 '18 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ All I‘d like to add is a Tomahawk was purposely developed to spin easily. Really know how to exit a spin before trying asymmetric stuff in a Tomahawk. $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds Nov 14 '18 at 22:14

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