According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft". Runways may be a man-made surface (often asphalt, concrete, or a mixture of both) or a natural surface (grass, dirt, gravel, ice, sand or salt). Runways, as well as taxiways and ramps, are sometimes referred to as "tarmac", though very few runways are built using tarmac. Runways made of water for seaplanes are generally referred to as waterways. Runway lengths are now commonly given in meters worldwide, except in North America where feet are commonly used.
In 1916, in a World War I war effort context, the first concrete-paved runway was built in Clermont-Ferrand in France, allowing local company Michelin to manufacture Bréguet Aviation military aircraft.
In January 1919, aviation pioneer Orville Wright underlined the need for "distinctly marked and carefully prepared landing places, [but] the preparing of the surface of reasonably flat ground [is] an expensive undertaking [and] there would also be a continuous expense for the upkeep."
For fixed-wing aircraft, it is advantageous to perform takeoffs and landings into the wind to reduce takeoff or landing roll and reduce the ground speed needed to attain flying speed. Larger airports usually have several runways in different directions, so that one can be selected that is most nearly aligned with the wind. Airports with one runway are often constructed to be aligned with the prevailing wind. Compiling a wind rose is in fact one of the preliminary steps taken in constructing airport runways.Note that wind direction is given as the direction the wind is coming from: a plane taking off from runway 09 faces east, into an "east wind" blowing from 090°.
Originally in the 1920s and 1930s, airports and air bases (particularly in the United Kingdom) were built in a triangle-like pattern of three runways at 60° angles to each other. The reason was that back then aviation was only starting, and as a result although it was known that winds affect runway distance required, etc. not much was known about wind behaviour. As a result, three runways in a triangle-like pattern were built, and the runway with the heaviest traffic on it would eventually expand into an airport's main runway, while the other two runways would be either abandoned or converted into taxiways. [ citation needed ]For example Bristol Airport has only one runway—09/27 (9/27)—and two taxiways that form a 'V' which may have been runways on the original 1930s RAF Lulsgate Bottom airbase.
Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally the magnetic azimuth of the runway's heading in deca degrees. This heading differs from true north by the local magnetic declination. A runway numbered 09 points east (90°), runway 18 is south (180°), runway 27 points west (270°) and runway 36 points to the north (360° rather than 0°).When taking off from or landing on runway 09, a plane is heading around 90° (east). A runway can normally be used in both directions, and is named for each direction separately: e.g., "runway 15" in one direction is "runway 33" when used in the other. The two numbers differ by 18 (= 180°). For clarity in radio communications, each digit in the runway name is pronounced individually: runway one-five, runway three-three, etc. (instead of "fifteen" or "thirty-three").
A leading zero, for example in "runway zero-six" or "runway zero-one-left", is included for all ICAO and some U.S. military airports (such as Edwards Air Force Base). However, most U.S. civil aviation airports drop the leading zero as required by FAA regulation. This also includes some military airfields such as Cairns Army Airfield. This American anomaly may lead to inconsistencies in conversations between American pilots and controllers in other countries. It is very common in a country such as Canada for a controller to clear an incoming American aircraft to, for example, runway 04, and the pilot read back the clearance as runway 4. In flight simulation programs those of American origin might apply U.S. usage to airports around the world. For example, runway 05 at Halifax will appear on the program as the single digit 5 rather than 05.
Military airbases may include smaller paved runways known as "assault strips" for practice and training next to larger primary runways.These strips eschew the standard numerical naming convention and instead employ the runway's full three digit heading; examples include Dobbins Air Reserve Base's Runway 110/290 and Duke Field's Runway 180/360.
Runways with non-hard surfaces, such as small turf airfields and waterways for seaplanes, may use the standard numerical scheme or may use traditional compass point naming, examples include Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base's Waterway E/W.Airports with unpredictable or chaotic water currents, such as Santa Catalina Island's Pebbly Beach Seaplane Base, may designate their landing area as Waterway ALL/WAY to denote the lack of designated landing direction.
If there is more than one runway pointing in the same direction (parallel runways), each runway is identified by appending left (L), center (C) and right (R) to the end of the runway number to identify its position (when facing its direction)—for example, runways one-five-left (15L), one-five-center (15C), and one-five-right (15R). Runway zero-three-left (03L) becomes runway two-one-right (21R) when used in the opposite direction (derived from adding 18 to the original number for the 180° difference when approaching from the opposite direction). In some countries, regulations mandate that where parallel runways are too close to each other, only one may be used at a time under certain conditions (usually adverse weather).
At large airports with four or more parallel runways (for example, at Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth and Orlando), some runway identifiers are shifted by 1 to avoid the ambiguity that would result with more than three parallel runways. For example, in Los Angeles, this system results in runways 6L, 6R, 7L, and 7R, even though all four runways are actually parallel at approximately 69°. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, there are five parallel runways, named 17L, 17C, 17R, 18L, and 18R, all oriented at a heading of 175.4°. Occasionally, an airport with only three parallel runways may use different runway identifiers, such as when a third parallel runway was opened at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in 2000 to the south of existing 8R/26L—rather than confusingly becoming the "new" 8R/26L it was instead designated 7R/25L, with the former 8R/26L becoming 7L/25R and 8L/26R becoming 8/26.
Suffixes may also be used to denote special use runways. Airports that have seaplane waterways may chose to denote the waterway on charts with the suffix W; such as Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu and Lake Hood Seaplane Base in Anchorage.Small airports that host various forms of air traffic may employ additional suffixes to denote special runway types based on the type of aircraft expected to use them, including STOL aircraft (S), gliders (G), rotorcraft (H), and ultralights (U). Runways that are numbered relative to true north rather than magnetic north will use the suffix T; this is advantageous for certain airfields in the far north such as Thule Air Base.
Runway designations may change over time because Earth's magnetic lines slowly drift on the surface and the magnetic direction changes. Depending on the airport location and how much drift occurs, it may be necessary to change the runway designation. As runways are designated with headings rounded to the nearest 10°, this affects some runways sooner than others. For example, if the magnetic heading of a runway is 233°, it is designated Runway 23. If the magnetic heading changes downwards by 5 degrees to 228°, the runway remains Runway 23. If on the other hand the original magnetic heading was 226° (Runway 23), and the heading decreased by only 2 degrees to 224°, the runway becomes Runway 22. Because magnetic drift itself is slow, runway designation changes are uncommon, and not welcomed, as they require an accompanying change in aeronautical charts and descriptive documents. When a runway designation does change, especially at major airports, it is often done at night, because taxiway signs need to be changed and the huge numbers at each end of the runway need to be repainted to the new runway designators. In July 2009 for example, London Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom changed its runway designations from 05/23 to 04/22 during the night.
Runway dimensions vary from as small as 245 m (804 ft) long and 8 m (26 ft) wide in smaller general aviation airports, to 5,500 m (18,045 ft) long and 80 m (262 ft) wide at large international airports built to accommodate the largest jets, to the huge 11,917 m × 274 m (39,098 ft × 899 ft) lake bed runway 17/35 at Edwards Air Force Base in California – developed as a landing site for the Space Shuttle.
Takeoff and landing distances available are given using one of the following terms:
There exist standards for runway markings.
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There are runway markings and signs on most large runways. Larger runways have a distance remaining sign (black box with white numbers). This sign uses a single number to indicate the remaining distance of the runway in thousands of feet. For example, a 7 will indicate 7,000 ft (2,134 m) remaining. The runway threshold is marked by a line of green lights.
There are three types of runways:
Waterways may be unmarked or marked with buoys that follow maritime notation instead.
A line of lights on an airfield or elsewhere to guide aircraft in taking off or coming in to land or an illuminated runway is sometimes also known as a flare path.
Runway lighting are used at airports for use at night and low visibility. Seen from the air, runway lights form an outline of the runway. A runway may have some or all of the following:
According to Transport Canada's regulations, 2 mi (3 km). Additionally, a new system of advisory lighting, runway status lights, is currently being tested in the United States.the runway-edge lighting must be visible for at least
The edge lights must be arranged such that:
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Typically the lights are controlled by a control tower, a flight service station or another designated authority. Some airports/airfields (particularly uncontrolled ones) are equipped with pilot-controlled lighting, so that pilots can temporarily turn on the lights when the relevant authority is not available.This avoids the need for automatic systems or staff to turn the lights on at night or in other low visibility situations. This also avoids the cost of having the lighting system on for extended periods. Smaller airports may not have lighted runways or runway markings. Particularly at private airfields for light planes, there may be nothing more than a windsock beside a landing strip.
Types of runway safety incidents include:
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The choice of material used to construct the runway depends on the use and the local ground conditions. For a major airport, where the ground conditions permit, the most satisfactory type of pavement for long-term minimum maintenance is concrete. Although certain airports have used reinforcement in concrete pavements, this is generally found to be unnecessary, with the exception of expansion joints across the runway where a dowel assembly, which permits relative movement of the concrete slabs, is placed in the concrete. Where it can be anticipated that major settlements of the runway will occur over the years because of unstable ground conditions, it is preferable to install asphaltic concrete surface, as it is easier to patch on a periodic basis. Fields with very low traffic of light planes may use a sod surface. Some runways make use of salt flats.
For pavement designs, borings are taken to determine the subgrade condition, and based on the relative bearing capacity of the subgrade, the specifications are established. For heavy-duty commercial aircraft, the pavement thickness, no matter what the top surface, varies from 10 in (250 mm) to 4 ft (1 m), including subgrade.
Airport pavements have been designed by two methods. The first, Westergaard, is based on the assumption that the pavement is an elastic plate supported on a heavy fluid base with a uniform reaction coefficient known as the K value. Experience has shown that the K values on which the formula was developed are not applicable for newer aircraft with very large footprint pressures.
The second method is called the California bearing ratio and was developed in the late 1940s. It is an extrapolation of the original test results, which are not applicable to modern aircraft pavements or to modern aircraft landing gear. Some designs were made by a mixture of these two design theories. A more recent method is an analytical system based on the introduction of vehicle response as an important design parameter. Essentially it takes into account all factors, including the traffic conditions, service life, materials used in the construction, and, especially important, the dynamic response of the vehicles using the landing area.
Because airport pavement construction is so expensive, manufacturers aim to minimize aircraft stresses on the pavement. Manufacturers of the larger planes design landing gear so that the weight of the plane is supported on larger and more numerous tires. Attention is also paid to the characteristics of the landing gear itself, so that adverse effects on the pavement are minimized. Sometimes it is possible to reinforce a pavement for higher loading by applying an overlay of asphaltic concrete or portland cement concrete that is bonded to the original slab. Post-tensioning concrete has been developed for the runway surface. This permits the use of thinner pavements and should result in longer concrete pavement life. Because of the susceptibility of thinner pavements to frost heave, this process is generally applicable only where there is no appreciable frost action.
Runway pavement surface is prepared and maintained to maximize friction for wheel braking. To minimize hydroplaning following heavy rain, the pavement surface is usually grooved so that the surface water film flows into the grooves and the peaks between grooves will still be in contact with the aircraft tires. To maintain the macrotexturing built into the runway by the grooves, maintenance crews engage in airfield rubber removal or hydrocleaning in order to meet required FAA friction levels.
Subsurface underdrains help provide extended life and excellent and reliable pavement performance. At the Hartsfield Atlanta, GA airport the underdrains usually consist of trenches 18 inches wide and 48 inches deep from the top of the pavement. A perforated plastic tube (15 cm in diameter) is placed at the bottom of the ditch. The ditches are filled with gravel size crushed stone., Excessive moisture under a concrete pavement can cause pumping, cracking, and joint failure.
In aviation charts, the surface type is usually abbreviated to a three-letter code.
The most common hard surface types are asphalt and concrete. The most common soft surface types are grass and gravel.
|BIT||Bituminous asphalt or tarmac|
|BRI||Bricks (no longer in use, covered with asphalt or concrete now)|
|COR||Coral (fine crushed coral reef structures)|
|GRE||Graded or rolled earth, grass on graded earth|
|GRS||Grass or earth not graded or rolled|
|PEM||Partially concrete, asphalt or bitumen-bound macadam|
|PER||Permanent surface, details unknown|
|PSP||Marston Matting (derived from pierced/perforated steel planking)|
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A runway of at least 6,000 ft (1,800 m) in length is usually adequate for aircraft weights below approximately 200,000 lb (91,000 kg). Larger aircraft including widebodies will usually require at least 8,000 ft (2,400 m) at sea level and somewhat more at higher altitude airports. International widebody flights, which carry substantial amounts of fuel and are therefore heavier, may also have landing requirements of 10,000 ft (3,000 m) or more and takeoff requirements of 13,000 ft (4,000 m). The Boeing 747 is considered to have the longest takeoff distance of the more common aircraft types and has set the standard for runway lengths of larger international airports. [ citation needed ]
At sea level, 10,000 ft (3,000 m) can be considered an adequate length to land virtually any aircraft. For example, at O'Hare International Airport, when landing simultaneously on 4L/22R and 10/28 or parallel 9R/27L, it is routine for arrivals from East Asia, which would normally be vectored for 4L/22R (7,500 ft (2,286 m)) or 9R/27L (7,967 ft (2,428 m)) to request 28R (13,000 ft (3,962 m)). It is always accommodated, although occasionally with a delay. Another example is that the Luleå Airport in Sweden was extended to 10,990 ft (3,350 m) to allow any fully loaded freight aircraft to take off.
An aircraft taking off at a higher altitude must do so at reduced weight due to decreased density of air at higher altitudes, which reduces engine power and wing lift. An aircraft must also take off at a reduced weight in hotter or more humid conditions (see density altitude). Most commercial aircraft carry manufacturer's tables showing the adjustments required for a given temperature.
Wind rose diagrams have been proved to be very useful nowadays in the design of airport runway.
In India, recommendations of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are now followed more often. For landing, only altitude correction is done for runway length whereas for take-off, all types of correction are taken into consideration.
The world's longest paved runway, at Qamdo Bamda Airport in Tibet (China), has a total length of 5,500 m (18,045 ft).
An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off or a helipad, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals. Larger airports may have airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services. In some countries, the US in particular, airports also typically have one or more fixed-base operators, serving general aviation.
The instrument landing system (ILS) is a radio navigation system that provides short-range guidance to aircraft to allow them to approach a runway at night or in bad weather. In its original form, it allows an aircraft to approach until it is 200 feet (61 m) over the ground, within a 1⁄2 mile of the runway. At that point the runway should be visible to the pilot; if it is not, they perform a missed approach. Bringing the aircraft this close to the runway dramatically increases the weather conditions in which a safe landing can be made. Later versions of the system, or "categories", have further reduced the minimum altitudes.
A heliport, helidrome or rotor station is an area of land, water, or structure used or intended to be used for the landing and takeoff of helicopters, and includes its buildings and facilities. In other words, it is a small airport suitable for use by helicopters and some other vertical lift platforms. Designated heliports typically contain one or more touchdown and liftoff area and may also have limited facilities such as fuel or hangars. In some larger towns and cities, customs facilities may also be available.
A taxiway is a path for aircraft at an airport connecting runways with aprons, hangars, terminals and other facilities. They mostly have a hard surface such as asphalt or concrete, although smaller general aviation airports sometimes use gravel or grass.
Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport is a public use airport located 1.15 miles north of the central business district of Bullhead City, in Mohave County, Arizona, United States. It is owned by Mohave County. The airport is across the Colorado River and one block away from Laughlin, Nevada. Many of the rooms at Laughlin's casino-hotels offer a view of the airport. It was named 2011 Airport of the Year by the Arizona Department of Transportation.
In aviation, an instrument approach or instrument approach procedure (IAP) is a series of predetermined maneuvers for the orderly transfer of an aircraft under instrument flight conditions from the beginning of the initial approach to a landing or to a point from which a landing may be made visually. These approaches are approved in the European Union by EASA and the respective country authorities and in the United States by the FAA or the United States Department of Defense for the military. The ICAO defines an instrument approach as a series of predetermined maneuvers by reference to flight instruments with specific protection from obstacles from the initial approach fix, or where applicable, from the beginning of a defined arrival route to a point from which a landing can be completed and thereafter, if landing is not completed, to a position at which holding or enroute obstacle clearance criteria apply.
In aviation, the runway visual range (RVR) is the distance over which a pilot of an aircraft on the centreline of the runway can see the runway surface markings delineating the runway or identifying its centre line. RVR is normally expressed in feet or meters. RVR is used to determine the landing and takeoff conditions for aircraft pilots, as well as the type of operational visual aids used at airport.
New Bedford Regional Airport is a Part 139 Commercial-Service Airport, municipally-owned and available for public use. The airport is located three nautical miles northwest of the City of New Bedford, a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States.
Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, also known as Sardy Field, is a county-owned public-use airport located three nautical miles (6 km) northwest of the central business district of Aspen, in Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. Aspen/Pitkin Co. Airport/Sardy Field covers an area of 573 acres (232 ha) at an elevation of 7,820 feet above mean sea level. It has one asphalt paved runway designated 15/33 which measures 8,006 by 100 feet.
Tribhuvan International Airport is an international airport located in Kathmandu, Bagmati Pradesh, Nepal. The airport is named after Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah, the former King of Nepal. It is operating with a tabletop runway, one domestic and an international terminal. As a sole international airport, it connects Nepal to over 40 destinations in 17 countries.
The airport apron, flight line, or ramp is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refilled, or boarded. Although the use of the apron is covered by regulations, such as lighting on vehicles, it is typically more accessible to users than the runway or taxiway. However, the apron is not usually open to the general public and a permit may be required to gain access. By extension, the term apron is also used to identify the air traffic control position responsible for coordinating movement on this surface at busier airports.
Safford Regional Airport is in Graham County, Arizona, United States, 3 miles east of Safford, which owns it. The FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2009–2013 categorizes it as a general aviation facility. It is the only paved airport in Graham County.
The Runway Status Lights (RWSL) system is a technology the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is deploying to make runways safer at busy airports. The system adds to the layers of protection already in place by providing visual alerts to pilots and drivers when runway traffic makes it unsafe to enter, cross, or begin takeoff. The lights enhance safety without affecting with normal and safe operations—an important consideration at airports that handle hundreds of operations an hour.
The Quincy Municipal Airport is a public-use airport located 2 miles (3.2 km) northeast of the central business district of the city of Quincy in Gadsden County, Florida, United States. The airport is publicly owned. The nearest airline service and jet fuel is 20 miles (32 km) away at Tallahassee International Airport (KTLH). The airport appears on the western edge of the Jacksonville VFR sectional. Taxi service is limited to none at all.
Sky Harbor Airport & Seaplane Base or Sky Harbor Airport is a public airport in Duluth, Minnesota, United States. It is located near the Wisconsin border, between Superior Bay and Lake Superior. The airport is six nautical miles (11 km) southeast of the central business district of Duluth, Minnesota, on Minnesota Point within its city limits.
Flagler Executive Airport is a county-owned public-use airport located three miles (5 km) east of the central business district of Bunnell, a city in Flagler County, Florida, United States. The airport's former FAA location identifiers were X47 and XFL. The airfield was originally constructed by the United States Navy during World War II as Naval Outlying Field Bunnell , an auxiliary airfield for flight training operations originating from nearby Naval Air Station Jacksonville, NAS Daytona Beach and NAS DeLand. Following the end of the war, the airfield was transferred from the Navy to Flagler County for use as a general aviation airport.
Northwest Regional Airport is a privately owned, public use airport 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) northwest of Roanoke, in Denton County, Texas, United States.
Hannibal Regional Airport is a public use airport in Marion County, Missouri, United States. It is located four nautical miles (7 km) northwest of the central business district of Hannibal, Missouri, and is owned by the City of Hannibal. The airport is used for general aviation with no commercial airlines.
Continental Airlines Flight 1883 was a Boeing 757 that mistakenly landed on a taxiway at Newark Liberty International Airport on the evening of October 28, 2006. There were no reported injuries or damage, but the narrowly averted disaster was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, and caused the Federal Aviation Administration to reevaluate and modify air and ground safety procedures at and around Newark Airport.
On July 7, 2017, an Airbus A320-211 operating as Air Canada Flight 759 was nearly involved in an accident at San Francisco International Airport in San Mateo County, California, United States. The flight, which originated at Toronto Pearson International Airport, had been cleared by air traffic control to land on San Francisco's runway 28R and was on final approach to land on that runway; however, instead of lining up with the runway, the aircraft had lined up with a parallel taxiway on which four fully loaded and fueled passenger airplanes were stopped awaiting takeoff clearance. The flight crew initiated a go-around prior to landing, after which it landed without further incident. The aircraft on the taxiway departed for their intended destinations without further incident. The subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the Air Canada airplane descended to 59 feet (18 m) above the ground before it began its climb, and that it missed colliding with one of the aircraft on the taxiway by 14 feet (4.3 m).
A single-digit runway landing designation number is never preceded by a zero.
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