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What Direction Does An Aircraft Take-Off Or Land In And Why? Hundreds of thousands of people travel by air every single day. Thousands of aircraft take-off every single day.
Have you ever thought about the direction in which the aircraft takes off and lands?Wondered why the direction changes at the same airport, even though the runway is the same?
Basics Of Flying
Aircraft fly with four forces acting on it at all times. One is 'thrust', which is generated by the engines and accelerates the aircraft. Thrust opposes 'drag' which is the force of air that tries to slow the aircraft down.
The other is 'lift' which, is generated by the wings and lifts the aircraft in air opposing 'gravity' which tries to pull the aircraft down. Lift is what makes the aircraft fly and this force can only be generated when air passes over and under the wings at a high rate.
Studying the basic principles of flight proves that air and airflow is what makes flying possible.
The engines help the aircraft accelerate. Once significant speed is built up and there is enough flow of air over and under the wings, the pilot pulls back on the controls and the aircraft takes off.
Pilots always take-off in the direction opposite to the direction of the windflow. This helps because the aircraft gets additional lift from the wind other than the speed of the aircraft itself.
An Airbus A-320 which is used by over 330 airliners across the world, including major carriers in India has a takeoff speed of 275km/h. If the aircraft has wind blowing from its tail end, the acceleration to 275km/h would have to be done on engine power itself for the wings to generate enough lift.
However, if there is a wind blowing in the opposite direction at a speed of 50km/h, The aircraft can utilise this for its lift. The aircraft can then takeoff in a shorter distance as it would have to accelerate just to 225km/h.
The same factors come into play while landing as airflow is of utmost importance. When the wind is blowing in the opposite direction, it allows the pilot to have a lower approach speed.
Wind blowing in the opposite direction also allows the aircraft to have better braking after touching down. When the aircraft has wind blowing in the same direction as it is landing, it has to approach the runway at a higher speed.
No pilot would want a higher approach speed as it requires a lengthier runway and gives some room to error. Keeping all this in mind, pilots and airport authorities change the direction of landing and take-off.
Flying might sound very simple, but is extremely complicated and requires thorough calculations of all sorts. It might be ground speed, air speed, wind direction, wind speed, etc. Every single detail is taken into account by the pilots and air traffic controllers. SO the next time you take off from a different direction than the previous time, know that the wind direction too has changed.