Aircraft drifting to one side? (Read below)

I keep having this problem with short to medium haul commercial aircraft like the A320. Everytime I get to VR speed and rotate, the aircraft points off to one side and I end up compensating with an unhealthy amount of rudder which means when the plane is fully off the ground, it completely wobbles and knocks me off a straight path off the runway. My first guess was that it was the aircraft reacting to the wind as it lifted off but then I realised, “I’ve landed in winds 5 times stronger than this and the plane doesn’t nearly point to one side as much as this”. It happens every time I take off in the A320 family and Boeing 737 family especially. I tried to see if it was weight related or speed related and I haven’t found a solution. If anyone has any info or knows anything about planes I’d really appreciate it. Thank you!

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Do you calibrate before takeoff?

I’ve experienced this many times and I always think its due to winds. However there is a slight chance that it might be due to the physics of the aircraft. The reason why I always think of winds is because when I land 737s and A320s in heavy winds I do experience the aircraft drifting as well.

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Yeah it’s irritating because a real life A320 or 737 would never drift that much on take off. All the wide body planes are gorgeous when taking off and it’s so smooth but the short haul planes are a nightmare

Yes, it’s an unhealthy habit of mine to calibrate too many times before taking off and landing in case I moved my phone.

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What’s most helpful here is letting us see the issue. Can you share a screen recording of your takeoff showing the yoke and winds in the bottom bar?

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Yes that happens to me sometimes even though there are no winds and my device is calibrated correctly.

Sure thing, let me do that now

I realised that it was just wind related. I set my wind to zero knots and it was a really smooth take off. Thanks for your help. I should be able to fix my problem if I take off on a more suitable runway and compensate for the wind.

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I knew it!
The wind was the culprit all along. My assumption was right

I also noticed this sometimes, its not just the wind I think, when I applied the wrong Vr way over, the wind effect just multiplied tenfold even at 5kts winds and I veered off the runway.

But each time I’m not too lazy to calculate the perfect Weight-Flaps-Vr combo (which is rare for me😂) I get a smooth take-off that always puts a smile on my face.

Another thing I noticed spotting IRL at WADD, that pilots also seem to struggle a lot to keep their planes straight during take-off? Feeling that raw jet power rumbling through your chest (and ears!) with an almost “violent” rolls rocking left n right just after Vr are both scarry and cool to watch!

…how come I never felt any of this as a passenger I wonder… maybe I was feeling the G in my seat more than the yaws and rolls😁

Well I’m not sure but I would suspect the effects of a crosswind are greatly exaggerated in IF… or just not modelled correctly. A 10 knot crosswind here is going to require a huge amount of rudder correction not to drift off centreline.

I mean check this video out, look at the amount of rudder correction the pilots are making upon rotation, and compare it to IF…

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This has happened to me plenty of times

Make sure HDG is not engaged on Autopilot, if there is any crosswind make sure both your ailerons and nose are pointed into the wind (shown in above post)

Ex: If taking off with a 10kt left crosswind ailerons/device should be tilted to the right to correct it

I have also noticed it is more noticeable in the A320 for example than a 777. I assume its more sensitive

But I have flown a 737 simulator in real life and this also happened, it is very realistic

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This is something I’m trying to practice.

I often struggle as this probably requires a lot of practice to co-ordinate between rudder & tilt & also at what moment to bring it back, particularly during landing. Little delay & I find it a real struggle to keep the aircraft from veering off the runway. For short haul, I fly the A321-200.

Respect for the pilots who practice these manoevera endlessly so that passengers hardly realize this struggle.

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I’ve experienced this problem so many times. I always try to correct it with the rudder, but if things get too bad, I usually try to take off smoothly and with a shallow climb.

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Before I started using the rudder technique I din’t know what to do and ended up almost taking off on the grass(757 and CRJ btw)

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The CRJs are really sensitive to rudder movements. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overcorrected for a drift and skidded off the runway.

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I think it is because of wind

It is because of wind

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I try to fly a C-172 every once in a while. Makes one realize:

  1. Aircraft is very sensitive to crosswinds. Takeoffs are a huge struggle.
  2. Natural tendency to drift to left while taking off due to prop.
  3. How challenging it is to maintain the centerline during takeoff & landing.

After these attempts, I find myself appreciating how the larger aircrafts are able to handle this a little better.

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