Student pilot’s crosswind landing goes awry

This March 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.
Location: Sanford, Fla.
Injuries: None.
Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was returning to the airport after an uneventful cross-country flight. At the time of the accident the wind was reported as 360° at 14 knots with gusts to 17 knots. The maximum demonstrated crosswind component of the Cessna 172 is listed as 17 knots in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook. Although he had the option of landing on runway 36, the student pilot attempted to land on runway 27. This resulted in a 90° crosswind.

After touchdown, the airplane veered to the left, went off the runway, and hit a sign.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll. Factors included a 90° crosswind, and the student pilot’s improper in-flight decision to land on a runway with the crosswind rather than on an available runway with a headwind.

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