First officer to captain, experience levels vary with flight time in a particular aircraft. Weather, crosswinds, visibility and turbulence affect a pilot’s ability to land a plane expertly, as well. In addition to these variables, pilots may have different landing preferences: There are those who fly their aircraft all the way to the ground, while others just don’t have the air sense.
Even the best, most experienced pilots have the occasional rough landing. I’ve had a couple of them, myself. Usually, those happen when a pilot is new to a particular aircraft and isn’t completely comfortable with how it handles close to the ground. Another cause might be excessive crosswinds combined with landing on a short runway. In that case, the pilot must force the plane onto the runway to stay in the smaller touchdown zone.
Those situations are not dangerous because airliners are built to handle stresses well beyond the typical hard landing. But beyond consideration for the equipment, a pilot’s job is to get passengers to their destinations as safely and as comfortably as possible. Providing smooth landings is one way pilots show their skill and finesse, and it’s something all pilots strive for.
Ref: September 15, 2015 issue of Fortune