View Full Version : Funchal wind limits

22nd Apr 2003, 06:50
Just got back from Funchal (Madeira) where the wind was in but mainly out of limits all day.
Why is it only the UK airlines that operate within these limits?
Two 757's on the ground unable to depart - numerous others diverted to PXO. At least 3 go-arounds, yet the Portuguese (Air Portugal, Luxor and Azores) just come and go with complete contempt for the limits. Gusts of 35kts at the Tower and Rosario - no problem, (the limit is 25kts), off they go.
ATC said all operations outside limits are reported to the authorities but that didn't stop them. Even Condor took-off with the gust given of 33kts.
These limits are presumably there for safety reasons, so what happens to the violators?

22nd Apr 2003, 07:00

I suspect that your limits are different then other operators.:D

22nd Apr 2003, 08:00
Many,many times I have diverted to PXO,or LIS due to the strong winds in FNC,and still when I arrive there to my surprise,only the British Charters have operated normally(You can not say either the Portuguese or German Airlines are different!!!)
It is well known that sometimes there is a "calm" in the wind intensity that allows 1 or 2 planes to land or take-off...it has been so for years,and so it will continue.

Actually TAP Air Portugal is very critisised in Madeira for not operating many times while the Charters are landing and taking off as they please...please do not see this as a critic,as I quite know that in FNC is a "difficult" operation,and winds can be quite unpredictable.

22nd Apr 2003, 19:52
:* Silver,
FYI I worked for one of the companies that you listed as ignoring the wind rules and I can put you straight on this matter Luxor operated to the letter of the rules and never and I repeat never went outside them when I was operating for them. Is this just another winge from someone that does not understand the rules, we did and operating into the place on an almost daily basis the crews were experienced and aware of the rules so I suggest you think again before opening your mouth and casting doubt on the integrity of other operators.

22nd Apr 2003, 20:13
I can agree with what Silvershadow is saying. After working at the airport in Funchal for 3 months, I have seen this kinda thing happen time after time.

I remember one day in particular where the British charters were diverting to TFN, TFS, LIS, FAO and PXO, but the TAP guys were just coming and going as normal. I will say tho that Luxor were one of the companies that were diverting.

Its just a normal day in Madeira!

El Peligroso
22nd Apr 2003, 20:25
yet the Portuguese (Air Portugal, Luxor and Azores) just come and go
:{ :{ :{
... it's called BIG BALLS amigo! :ok:

23rd Apr 2003, 01:19
Don't you just HATE pilots with oversized gonads and similarly afflicted mouths?

23rd Apr 2003, 02:12
:yuk: Thats interesting. I was never aware that it was a requirment to be over endowed in the testicle area to operate into FNC, I actually have always thoght that being careful and safe was the answer. Stupid me!!!!!:O

23rd Apr 2003, 07:33
What happens to the violators????????:)


The question is, there as been for ever a great disagreement between the portuguese airline pilot association and the portuguese aviation authorities (INAC) about the wind limits.

Those limits have been imposed since the TAP accident there in 1974. There has never been a serious study about the wind limits and their effect... as there has been made in Gibraltar and Salzburg and Innsbruck. Also the INAC refuses to order the airport to be closed to all traffic, when winds are out of limit leaving that decision to the PIC. Also what you read from the AIP is ambiguous and doesn`t state minimus for dispatch, as all airports around the world subject to minimums higher than standard and non-normal operations!:E

Those who operate in Funchal for several years, know by their own experience, when a safe landing can be acomplished or not! indenpedently from winds!

So, if TAP, Luxor and SATA were landing on that day! So could you!;)

Once I went around TWR was reporting a 10Kt headwind and at 100ft we had 35 Kts tailwind.


23rd Apr 2003, 12:37
Now I know why "real men" don't go around, the control column coming back during the manoeuvre must hit them in their oversized gonads.

El Peligroso
23rd Apr 2003, 13:49
WOW, amazing just how many fish bite when you hang out the bait in these waters! ;)

Never been to Funchal, so have no idea of limits.

:sad: :E :ok:

Angel`s Playmate
23rd Apr 2003, 14:51

I do fly into FNC as well, and as far as I am concerned, I do not bust wind limits and never heard someone from my company doing it as well. It is not a question of- " I am the hot shot and I ain`t no limits"!!- rather than, if you you wreck the damn thing and it was outside the limits- IT`S YOU hanging on your balls,bcause the insurance won`t pay,your licence will be suspended and so on...! That`s the point !

23rd Apr 2003, 16:02
If in our airline you land beyond the wind limits at FNC you will be invited for Tea & Biscuits with the Chief Pilot, even when every other airline is landing.........

Why should you take the risk??? Just divert and have a happy day!

23rd Apr 2003, 16:18
I didn't think that the W/V ever exceeded the limits at FNC.

Every time I went in there the Windsocks were pointing at each other actually sticking straight OUT:

Component Zero! :D

23rd Apr 2003, 23:21
I operate into FNC quite often and have seen plenty of good days, bad days, and diversions.
The control tower knows exactly what the limits are. I beleive they use averaged wind over two minutes rather than instantaneous readings in the tower. If the tower says the wind is xxx/xx it means that as far as he is concerned you can try a landing. If he says 'xxx/xx what are your intentions', it means that if you land you will be reported to Portuguese CAA.
On days when the wind is obviously way outside limits, like most others , I go immediately to the diversion (PXO) and wait for an improvement, or possibly stay in the Instrument Hold Pattern at medium altitude. If there might be a chance of getting in, I fly around the visual circuit for as long as it takes to get in to land or to drop to diversion fuel. If the warning phrase ( while down wind) is given ,ie 'what are your intentions' I either say that I am staying in the pattern until conditions improve, or I put the gear down, continue the approach and ask for a wind check again on finals. If it is still outside the airport limit he will say 'clear to land wind xxx/xx what are your intentions.' It would be wise to go around.
I agree with the others who say that it is the wind and weather that dictates who gets in. It is pure chance. Obviuosly, if some pilots choose to give up before others that is their problem. TAP are definately not cowboys, but they do have the advantage of knowing the airfield better than anyone else. Like others, I have chickened out on approach and diverted when the wind is quoted as being well below the quoted limits. I have landed on days when the wind was on maximum limits, expecting a really rough ride and not heard the windshear for even a brief second.
Also, may I add that I have never been reported bt the tower, or asked to explain my actions to the Chief Pilot ..... yet!

28th Apr 2003, 02:53

Always a nice Airport to land FNC.

Again today the Airport was closed for part of the day due to strong winds.


Jet A1
28th Apr 2003, 16:59
Place scares me fartless on a calm cavok day, so defo would not want the skip to try his and my luck and go for it with wind on or beyond limits. Those unfamiliar I suggest taking a look at this picci !

Runway 23


Runway 05



Angel`s Playmate
28th Apr 2003, 23:04
I have to go there again on Thursday moring (MAY 1) !

Shed ARR is 0940z - who else from the Pprunerworld will be there ?

We could meet on the ramp(or when it runs bad in PXO) for a coffee break!!!!!!!

See ya on Thursday !!!!!!!!

Voodoo 3
29th Apr 2003, 03:28
Went down to Funchal today and had a very pleasant day out. Runway in use was 23 and the wind on touchdown was 180 at around 8/9. If you read the preamble in the Aerad pamphlet it actually states that if a landing is made outside of the stated wind limits then a report will be sent to the Portugese authorities. If indeed pilots from certain airlines continue to land in wind exceeding the max values then it is a wonder if a) these reports are made and b)if they are, then the airlines are allowed to continue flying there. These limits are there for a reason namely that Funchal is difficult and dangerous at the best of times. To land outside these limits is plain suicidal. I have had to divert to PXO before due to the wind. Didnt matter, I had a pleasant nightstop and aircraft and pax were safely delivered the following day.

In trim
29th Apr 2003, 03:41
From an interested observer who has never been to FNC!

When the runway was "developed" recently, how was this done? I know about the platform built over the sea, but was this just a runway extension or was there a re-alignment and other changes at the same time?

Has this development changed any of the limits or made it less of a challenge?

29th Apr 2003, 05:18
I am grateful to DontSink for answering my original query. It seems that local pilots know there is no retribution for operating when the wind is above limits, so they use their own judgement and experience. :rolleyes:

I don't think our CAA quite see it that way so, as quickturnaround says, we would be invited in for a "chat". Not so much of El Peligroso's "Big Balls", more a case of no balls by the time you came out!

Capn Notarious
29th Apr 2003, 06:55
Herself want's to go to Maderia.
Have you graphs/statistics for diversion rates.
She is not the most happy of passengers: windy bumpy?
Where is PXO and how do find out the list of abbreviations of airfields.
Thank you for making interesting reading.

29th Apr 2003, 09:18
PXO= Island of Porto Santo...a quick 10 minute hop from FNC Airport.

29th Apr 2003, 20:33
Capn Notarius

for abbreviations use airport locator (http://www.ar-group.com/icaoiata.htm)


1st May 2003, 09:30

Being SLF, Portuguese and a FNC native, i have often seen (both in the media and by myself)
the reverse:
The "foreign" carriers operating, and TAP (and other locals) refusing to even depart to or from LPMA.

I have had flights delayed for more than 24 hours. I saw the old terminal with a couple of
thounsand people wainting to get out. I have seen some very annoyed people asking the ground
crew why where "the others" taking off from LPMA and why was TAP refusing to send aircraft
to get them out (people get agitated when they have been wainting for a flight for 2 or 3
days). Sometimes these episodes degenerated into riot.

So, when you state that "It seems that local pilots know there is no retribution for operating
when the wind is above limits, so they use their own judgement and experience." You are beeing
unfair, both to pilots and local authorities. Although experience does help. When those situations
arise before departure, the pilots simply elect not to depart to LPMA, and avoid lengthy diversions
into a small island (PXO) which isn't really equipped to handle a big influx of unplanned "tourists".

In Trim,

The runway was re-aligned, the place where 05 ends had a high rise hotel and some holliday
villas on it. It was previously aligned a bit more to the east.
As for "challenge" i don't (and most probably will never) have an opinion (i'm just a microlight
student), but the local media talked about some unexpected phenomena that was noticed by
aircrew after the new platform was constructed.
Aparently (again reported by local media) a report was comissioned by the airport authority to
some large aviation entity (Airbus?), but i haven't read anything substantial about this.

(Note: "Local Media" as in "regular-non-aviation-press-and-tv")

Capn Notarious

The landings can be quite "interesting", even when the winds are calm. The bank angles on the turn
to final are a bit on the "unusual" side of comercial passenger flights.
Still, i think the scenery is worth those intense minutes.
If you get a diversion to PXO, assuming it's during the summer and you are allowed to leave the
airport, you could try the beach (it's excellent).

If i have got you too scared, you can always try to get a flight to PXO, and get on the ferry to
Funchal (about 2 hours travel). During summer the sea is mostly flat, and it is quite enjoyable.


2nd May 2003, 04:07
Indeed Madeira is NOT the only airport where wind plays a major role in the well-being of pilots and hundreds of pax. What do you think if Meltemi is blowing at Samos(LGSM) or the Mistral at the Corsican airports like Calvi and Ajaccio?
Perhaps the wind limitations are not as strict as on Madeira, but wind plays indeed a role with the high terrain as heavy Turbulance is generated in windy conditions. I have seen loads of pax waiting at Samos since Olympic was wise to cancel their flights to Samos with very windy conditions. Offcourse some manage to get in or out just when some better conditions were prevailing, which always leads to pax being pissed-off. But safety first I would say!

See U at Funchal, QTA.:ok:

2nd May 2003, 08:23
I've been operating into FNC for 10 years or so. The new runway has actually made the "straight in" on Rwy 23 more tricky than it was - a downward rotor often exists at 500-700ft on final. 05 is pretty much the same as before (when it was 06!). But I usually enjoy the chance to really fly the aircraft - let's face it how many childhood dreams center around neatly following an ILS???

When you complete a good approach at Funchal you remember why you wanted to be a pilot - n'est pas?

2nd May 2003, 17:13
Indeed, each landing in FNC makes the adrenaline explode in my body!
Now the locals know a lot of tricks to land, with the wind just out of limits. As somebody mentioned already before, the tower always gives wind, based on a 2min mean value. Trick is to ask in final the instinaneous wind. Sometimes they even ask, "give me a wind that is within limits" to the control. But I am not sure they will do it when you ask it in English... You'd better start practising some Portugues!
Next you just fly it to final and see what happens, how bad the W/S is.
A good ref. is to see what TP and LK do. If TAP goes around, and Air Luxor lands, be sure that there will be an inquiery. (btw, has happened already, but LK landed just in limits)
Imagine what will happen when you are a foreign company.
But the best ref. is still pilots judgement. Know your own limits.

This is just my eye-witness report when I was flying LK.


Angel`s Playmate
2nd May 2003, 21:53

you are right with the downdraft on finals 23. I was there on Thursday morning. Wind 220/4 kts, but on final it was still X-Wind over the mountains with 20kts and we ended up with 30 deg. bank left and right at 500ft, out of nothing.

That`s FNC !!!!!


will see ya Monday morning at Samos !!!!!!

( Why is it always me going to those places?):{

3rd May 2003, 17:37
Lizbet is right, about final 24, if u ever bothered to look right about on 3 miles final u now why. There u will be passing a venturi like valley, which works like a chute for wind thus creating turbulance.

Sorry Angel, I will be at SMI on friday........Otherwise I could offer U a nice Frappé


Ignition Override
4th May 2003, 12:11
Do 757s land there?

Just curious. Over "here" in the colonies, one of our 757/744 Aircrew training Instructors (with 757 type rating) was on our jumpseat about three days ago, and he described a tailstrike incident at a regular US east coast airport. The crew accepted some crappy ATC vectors which left them not stabilized at all by 1,000' AGL. Weather was not a factor. The FO suggested that they make a go-around, but sometimes Captains either don't really hear the 'message', or need to show that they can stabilize an unstable situation (contrary to the FOM).

If you scrape the tail of a 757, or a wingtip on any airplane, this is major structural damage. Boeing never needed a tailskid (:)) on it. I would shudder at the idea of instant media coverage. They are welcome to call me a wimp for a recent go-around in moderate turbulence on final (gusting to 35 knots in thick rainshowers; there were no braking action reports for these conditions). We did not fly needed troops or support to Iraq or Afghanistan etc, so where is the need to be macho, or strictly "mission-oriented"?

If some pilots create serious aircraft damage resulting in days or weeks of lost revenue, will the company sympathise whenever we disregarded published limitations? Do spoilers always extend quickly when the main wheels barely spin-up on a wet runway?:uhoh:

5th May 2003, 03:14
Hello QTA,

I can offer you my Samos tuesday 13th :D


5th May 2003, 17:28
No problem NNC, just do my LXR-HRG and everybody is happy then..........