Aircraft Motion
Physics of Aircraft
Weight and Thrust
Secondary Controls
Straight and Level
Aircraft Design Features
The Stall
Practice Exam

Wind in a Descent

Wind in a Descent

Wind will have much the same effect on a descent as it did on a climb.

Imagine two aircraft are descending at 70 knots, one in nil wind conditions and one with a 10 knot headwind. The aircraft in nil wind will travel over the ground at 70 knots. The aircraft with a 10 knot headwind will travel over the ground at 60 knots. The aircraft with a slower groundspeed will travel a shorter distance over the ground in the same amount of time.

So the aircraft with a headwind will have a steeper angle of descent.

However, the rate of descent will remain the same so the two aircraft will arrive at the same altitude at the same time, but in different locations.

If an aircraft has a tailwind the rate of descent will also remain the same, but the angle of descent will be shallower.

Angle of descent increases with a headwind
Angle of descent decreases with a tailwind

Rate of descent is not affected by the wind