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0 votes
asked by (18 points)

FYI I'm beginner x-plane simmer and not a real pilot.

It appears to me that some environment settings in X-plane are un-flyable. If you turn up wind, shear, gust and turbulence all the way to maximum, you will be tumbled around, upside down and crash even when you are just parked on the runway.

Even at just moderate settings, the plane is being pitched and yawed 35-45 degrees left and right, up and down. (Please note that I'm flying small planes like the p180) It's nearly impossible to even touch the runway at the proper spot. After many evenings, I have managed to touch down smoothly a couple times (I doubt whether this could be done consistently), but the plane never slows down or stops, even with brakes on and reverse thrust engaged. When I look at an exterior view, it shows the tires smoking away. I assume this implies that the landing gear was damaged from the stress of landing. I was straightened out, and there was no bouncing, and I was not going fast. I'm not sure if it is a bug in the program, or if it is because even when you straighten out at the last second, with a lot of wind, you are still being pushed sideways when you touchdown. You practically have to land beside the runway so that when you finally straighten out, you will drift on to the runway instead of off of it. Anyway, it NEVER lands without the smoking tires, and unstoppable momentum at these settings, no matter how smoothly you touch down.

I've seen a lot of youtube videos on landing with sidewinds, but they must have really benign wind settings because although they are "crabbing" in, they are still flying absolutely linear, and rock steady. There is no wild bouncing, pitching and yawing violent enough to make riding a  bucking bronco seem like you are sitting in an easy chair.

So the question is, specifically what should a skillful pilot be able to handle? What specific wind, shear, gust and turbulence settings would be difficult but within reach of most good pilots, and which could be handled with 100% consistency? I'm sure there are some settings that are wildly difficult and could be handled occasionally, but not 100% of the time. In the real world, you don't really have the luxury of messing up even once. 

Also, out in the real world, I assume then that some wind/gust/shear/turbulence conditions are too extreme to fly/land in. But what about a long distance flight where conditions at a destination take an unexpected turn for the worse? Any real pilots have that experience? Did you have to seek guidance to alternative destinations? This would seem rather dicey, since it is not clear how far away you would have to fly in order to get significantly more manageable landing conditions.

commented by (18 points)
I wouldn't be surprised if it makes a difference which plane you are flying. I'm using the p180 right now. So the more applicable the answer is to the p180, the better. Thanks!

1 Answer

0 votes
answered by (59 points)
Probably a good pilot can fly a p.180 in turbulens 3/4 and wind 45 knots.
commented by (18 points)
what about  the "wind gust increase"  setting? What's the maximum setting we should strive to handle? Also see the new question at the end of this post.

I'm kind of surprised that there isn't more discussion about landing in unpredictable, gusty wind conditions. I'm not a real pilot, just a relatively new sim flyer. Maybe in the real world, you just avoid these conditions. But you feel like the more you are able to handle bad conditions, the better you will be in easier conditions. Anway, here's what I'm finding:

Seems like much of what you learn for normal landings just doesn't apply anymore. For one thing, there is so much pitching, bucking, pitching and yawing that flying some pretty, precise approach is out of the question. If you do math, it's kind of like trying to filter out statistical noise from the main trend. Sometimes you can't even see the runway, so when it comes into view, you just want to keep it generally in the correct area, which depends on the cross wind. But you are not going to be able to accurately counter every unpredictable gust of wind.

In normal approaches, if you push the stick forward to keep on glide path, you back off the throttle to maintain correct speed. If you pull back on the stick, you need to increase throttle to maintain correct speed. The problem with high winds is that throttle is what keeps you from getting blown off course sideways, and 50-60 knots of wind running over the wings is a lot of lift.

So if you need to increase throttle to get back on course, adding that to 50-60 knots of wind starts seriously increasing your lift and wrecking your glide path descent. So whereas in normal conditions stick forward = reduce throttle and stick back = increase throttle, in these conditions it's almost the complete opposite. Increase throttle = stick forward and decrease throttle = stick backwards.

Another difference is that there is no more flare. You can no longer ease up on the throttle as you approach touchdown because that is what keeps you from being blown off the runway. Furthermore, with 50-60 knots of wind running over the wings, that plus keeping the throttle up to stay over the runway means the plane doesn't really drop very much. You have to push the stick forward to get it to drop at all rather than pull up slightly to flare. Pull back at all and you'll rise like a balloon so fast it's the end of your attempt. But it's very hard to push forward the right amount and avoid blowing up your landing gear. (There's a lot of delay in response to input)

In normal landings, when you finally  get your wheels down, you throttle down and apply reverse thrusters if you have it. Well, forget about that in really windy conditions. Even if you get all wheels down on the runway in these conditions, you will still get blown off the runway if you throttle down. I haven't tried it, but logically if you get blown off the runway pointed sideways with zero throttle, you will get blown off even faster if you apply reverse thrusters. Once your wheels are down pointed sideways, you may have to apply more throttle to keep yourself on the runway. (It appears that your linear speed parallel with the runway is so low that landing sideways, doesn't do anything to the landing gear) If you do apply throttle with the wheels down, make sure you push the stick all the way forward first, or you will find that you have just taken off into the air again. I can't even see the runway at this point, I just look for a piece of it to appear in the lower left or right corner of the window. I just learned about quick look feature. That may help a lot. But haven't tried it yet.

This whole scenario feels more akin to landing a helicopter than an airplane. You feel like you are just hovering over the runway, pointed sideways, being jostled about, moving down the runway at a walking pace, with so much lift that even when the plane is on the ground, it's just barely putting any weight down.

This also brings up the question of landing (or I suppose taking off) with high tail winds. This would seem to be a very serious problem. If the normal landing speed is say 100 knots and there is a 60 knot tail wind, you'd have to go 160 knots to maintain the normal amount of landing lift? That would be scary. How much faster than normal is within reason to land?  Does each plane have a specification for maximum allowable tailwind for landing/takeoffs?