Storm at Schiphol

It is a stormy day in our chilly little country. At Schiphol, pilots are braving the fierce winds with deft manoeuvres. This makes for some impressive footage.

Wind and aircraft: what was the deal again?

Aircraft basically start and land against the wind. The more headwind, the sooner the aircraft lifts off from the runway and the shorter the stretch of runway it requires. The same principle applies to landing aircraft: these, too, go upwind so as not to land with excessive speed.


Normally, aircraft are ‘directionally stable’. This means they are inclined to adjust their direction while going upwind. Consequently, in case of crosswinds aircraft tend to approach the runway at a slight angle. From a safety point of view, Air Traffic Control at Schiphol has rules for the force of these crosswinds. As soon as a crosswind of 20 knots (10 metres per second) or over blows across a runway, pilots are offered a different runway.

Heavy weather for passengers

These (overly) strong crosswinds may lead to fewer runways being in use. This can cause delays. When delays get too severe, a number of flights may even be cancelled. We understand that this is a great nuisance for everyone who happens to be flying today, but passenger safety always comes first.