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This is my first post. I have read your site for several months and have learned much from
you and your community.
I am a student pilot in the DA-40 with under 10 hours. I am told the single most
challenging aspect of the DA-40 is the landing. For me, with just a handful of landings so
far, it does seem challenging - especially in high wind.
Next week I am scheduled to fly from my home airport, KAUS in Austin, TX, and the
forecast winds are 09020 for the time I am set for wheels up, and roughly the same
forecast for return. Our runway is 17/35.
What is your advice for crosswind takeoffs and landings in the DA-40?
PS, I would welcome anyone's wisdom on this issue.
-- Scott Zodin, March 29, 2008
The DA-40 has fairly light wing-loading and therefore tends to be unstable in gusts. Another challenge is that the stall warning horn tends to go off when you're flying the recommended approach speed in a gusty wind. Overall, however, it is probably one of the world's easiest planes to land under almost any conditions.
Here are a few tips...
Set an attitude at about 400' AGL that you think will result in just under 70 knots of airspeed. Glance at the airspeed indicator to verify. After that, if your airspeed is reasonable (65-75 knots), stop looking inside. Just try to keep the nose pitched approximately where it was. Ignore momentary stall warnings in gusty conditions. Keep your eyes outside the airplane.
Unless you are trying to put her down on a 2000' runway, use a bit of power, maybe 12-14" of manifold pressure with full flaps. Using power will keep the sink rate under control and make judging the flare less critical. Remove the power gradually during the round-out.
A 20-knot crosswind is a challenge for most pilots in most airplanes. Airlines won't let junior first officers land in anything more than 15 knots of crosswind. So don't feel bad if your instructor has to help out.
One thing that might help is doing a few low passes, maybe 10' above the runway, working hard on keeping the plane in a slip, aligned with the runway and on centerline. I think 17" of power and half-flaps should keep you over the runway.
-- Philip Greenspun, March 29, 2008
I have no experience flying a DA-40 so take this for what it's worth. My learning experience was in a Cessna 172. The 172 was very stable during crosswind landings. After 200 hours, I bought a Bonanza which I have flown for 1,100 hours. Although the DA-40 has the sexy glass panel, I would feel safer flying a Bonanza in any weather operation--especially a crosswind takeoff/landing. I've made some improvements to the Bonanza panel--MX-20, GDL-69A, GNS 430, Sandel EHSI, GTX-330, Castleberry backup Gyro, so I have similar functionality (Nexrad WX, Lightning, TIS Traffic, IFR Charts, Auto-slew HSI, Terrain, XM Radio) to the Diamond/Cirrus albeit with steam gauges. My Bonanza gets 155 knots on 11 gallons per hour. And I have a vacuum system for backup DG and Attitude Indicator. Even with retractable gear, my insurance is very reasonable--about what some people pay for a high-risk automotive policy. There is a rumor going around that a Diamond's or Cirrus's composite airframe picks up ice faster than a Bonanza's aluminum airframe.
-- Don Shade, March 29, 2008
What year Bonanza and model did you purchase? What was the TT on the airframe? What was your transition time to reach a comfort level with the Bonanza? Did you already have your IFR certification when you made the purchase?
Your comment brings up an interesting point. Perhaps the emergence of Cirrus, Diamond, Columbia have created an opportunity to buy an A36 at a better value. From a mission standpoint, I would love the size and speed of a Bonanza. However, from a safety standpoint, I am not entirely sure when my competence would reach the point where the Bonanza would make sense. Also, new glass cockpit competition is coming out daily like the new Aspen Avionics http://www.aopa.org/aircraft/articles/2008/080317aspen.html, or g600. I will continue my training on the DA40 so I will have to deal with cross winds in that plane. The end game may be the older, capable plane with a glass retrofit.
-- Scott Zodin, March 29, 2008
I have a different experience from Don's. I have about 130 hours in the Bonanza (F33), but very limited experience in the Diamond. Although they handle differently, I find both straightforward in a crosswind, but when the crosswind component approaches 20 knots, the Bonanza runs out of rudder authority, while the Diamond does not. (In the Bo, you also have to fight the rudder-aileron interconnect spring when crossing the controls as required in a crosswind.) So in a stiff crosswind, despite my limited hours in type, I would prefer the Diamond over the Bonanza and over most light aircraft I can think of, with the exception of the TB-20 Trinidad.
I find that DA-40 handles rather like the AA-5B Tiger in landings and take-offs, and my advice is based on my 150+ hours AA-5B experience. In strong crosswind, the challenge is to maintain directional control, which requires some differential braking in the beginning of the take-off run, and at the end of the landing roll. You really do not want to use brakes during take-off, but it is unavoidable in strong crosswing due to the free-castoring nosewheel.
When it comes to crosswind landing techniques, you really should do as your instructor suggests. I usually teach the low-wing method to new students, because that gives you time to judge the control inputs necessary for the crosswind, but it is actually hard work, and most experienced pilots wait until the round-out before they kick in rudder to align the nose with the runway. But it also depends on which technique yor instructor feels is best for instruction, which I believe is a matter of personal preferences.
There is no doubt in my mind that training crosswind techniques is much more fun in a DA-40 than in a Piper or Cessna (or Bonanza). The feed-back you get from the aeroplane is simply better.
Oh, and don't forget always to put a lot of aileron into the wind during roll-out! This is true for any type, but more important in the Diamond with its low span-loading than in the Bonanza with its high span-loading (weight divided by span).
Still, I hope you will also get to practice landings in low winds soon. You need that to develop finesse in the round-out, and to really get to know the aircraft.
I hope this makes sense to you. Have fun!
By the way, I instruct mostly in Piper. Ok, but slightly boring.
-- Henrik Vaeroe, March 29, 2008
I bought a 1964 35-B33 Debonair--it's a straight tail Bonanza with a 225 hp engine. It had 4,000 hrs total time when I bought it. When I compare my plane with its upgraded avionics to newer A36s or the glass panel composites, I have no regrets.
-- Don Shade, March 29, 2008
I have a little over 1 year and 140 hours in a DA40XL that I purchased as a student pilot. The plane has been very forgiving in crosswind landings. Just don't confuse crosswinds with wind gusts. If it is gusty, add an extra 7-8kts to your approach and don't get to steep. If it is truly a crosswind landing, I simply prefer to crab until the I am 100' or so off of the runway and then use that powerful rudder to line up with the centerline. Enjoy the Diamond, it truly is a blast to fly.
-- Bryan Anderson, July 31, 2008