Why do we experience hard landings?

It has been a misconception that hard landings are a result of a pilot's lack of skill in executing a smooth landing. In reality, hard landings are a result of a pilot's decision to land the aircraft as safely as possible depending on the weather conditions outside and the runway length. There are reasons why pilots execute hard landings which we will explain in this write-up.

Photo: Wikipedia
If you are a frequent air traveller, we are pretty sure you have experienced at least one hard landing. Yes it is scary, and sometimes, quite shocking especially if the flight has been smooth throughout.

​First of all, a pilot's landing is not judged based on how smooth it is. Yes for passengers it is a bonus point but it is not how a successful landing is judged. 

The smoothness or roughness of a landing is determined by the conditions of the runway and at the runway on that very moment.

The first factor is the length of runway. To execute a smooth landing, the pilots must flare (or float in ground effect) the aircraft and slowly touch down. The more you flare, the more runway it would eat and may result to an overshoot. Also, a flare is never done on a wet runway especially  during rainy weather conditions.

The second reason is because of weather. 

Photo: Wikipedia
If the aircraft is landing in poor weather conditions, a positive landing is required. This is where the vertical descent speed of the aircraft is enough to "cut" through the thin layer of water or ice in order to achieve a quick contact with the ground to avoid any chance of hydroplaning. 

Even if the weather is clear and you know the runway is long, hard landings may still happen when crosswind is present on the runway. There are different techniques for crosswind landings such as sideslip, crab, and de-crab but all will still result to a hard landing.

Are hard landings good or bad? Both. They are good if they are done with proper execution. Bad when vertical descent speed is too fast which may cause structural damage to the aircraft due to the force.

So there you have it! Before we say "our pilot sucks because we experienced a hard landing", know the reason why such was executed. Yes it is uncomfortable, but sometimes or at most times, the main reason is to get the aircraft unto the ground safely given the present weather and runway condition.

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