8 ways to know when you should not land your plane

Ok, it’s time to land your plane, but should you? There are some circumstances where it’s safer to divert to another airport. But how do you know when you should divert?

Our pilots have created a list of more common situations when you should not land your plane. This list is of course not all inclusive, there are many unique situations that you might face in the future.

Below are eight situations when you should not land your plane.

1. Doubt
If there is any doubt at all of a safe landing, don’t ignore that gut feeling. Whether it’s a bad tail wind or too low visibility, you have to think of safety first.

2. Clearance
Don’t land if you’re not cleared to, unless there is no tower. May seem obvious to some, but it must be said. You should also be aware of Notams for the airport you are landing at. If you see an X on the runway, you can not land, it is not signifying buried treasure.

3. Stability
If you are unable to maintain a safe stable approach, then do not land. An unstable approach is being unable to maintain a center line, having trouble maintaining a constant speed or having issues with altitude or flaps. An unstable landing can hurt you and the plane.

Telluride Runway

4. Proper Training
When you haven’t had the proper training for a particular airport or terrain, then landing may be difficult and dangerous. Some airports are close to mountains, so they require very steep descents. Other airports are extremely busy and if you have not had experience with that amount of traffic, then you will need an instructor or experienced pilot with you.


5. Runway Traffic
A runway that is not clear is not safe. When other traffic is on the runway, wait to land your plane. Runway traffic can be anything from other planes and trucks to animals and debris. This is very important especially at airports without towers or at night when some towers close.

A NASA study demonstrating wake turbulence

6. Wake Turbulence
Wake turbulence is turbulence that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air.” This vortex becomes more powerful as the weight of the aircraft increases. A fixed-wing aircraft has to remain above that vortex while they are landing. If you can’t maintain a higher descent rate and might get pulled into the wake turbulence of a jumbo plane, then ease off and go around. It is not worth the risk of getting pulled into a powerful wake turbulence.

7. Weight Limits
If you are thinking that the weight limits are the same for take offs and landings, well you are mostly right. But some planes do have different limits. So be aware of the plane you are in and don’t land with an overweight plane.

8. Weather
The final big one, weather. Ice and extreme wind will turn a difficult landing into a dangerous one. Anything more than a 10 knot tail wind, might be too much. Also, for the locals keep in mind our dust devils or mini tornadoes for the visitors. If the weather changes while you are up in the sky, make the safe decision and detour if you have to. Like a good pilot, you always check the weather before you leave right?

Whether you are an experienced pilot or a student, be diligent and aware of your surroundings during your entire flight, including your landing.

Did we miss any? Let us know and comment below.

Posted on in Flight Training