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Introduction To Runways
• 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
• Runways may be a man-made surface (often
asphalt, concrete, or a mixture of both) or a
natural surface (grass, dirt, gravel, ice, or
How Runway Orientation Is Decided?
• For normal fixed-wing aircraft it is advantageous
to perform take-offs and landings into the wind.
This is to increase the speed of air over the
wings i.e. flying speed, at a relatively lower
ground speed which reduces the actual take-off
or landing distance needed. Thus, runway
orientations are decided on the historical winds
and directions. If the winds are more variable in
direction and the airport is large enough to
financially justify the investment, airports can
have several runways in different directions, so
that a runway can be selected that is most
nearly aligned with the wind.
Factors Affecting Runway Orientation
• Airspace Availability
• Environmental Factors
• Obstruction To Navigation
• Air Traffic Control Visibility
• Wild Life Hazards
• Terrain And Soil Consideration
There are four types of Runway Layouts
• Single runway
This is the simplest of the 4 basic configurations. It is one
runway optimally positioned for prevailing winds, noise, land
use and other determining factors. During VFR (visual flight
rules) conditions, this one runway should accommodate up to
99 light aircraft operations per hour. While under IFR
(instrument flight rules) conditions, it would accommodate
between 42 to 53 operations per hour depending on the mix of
traffic and navigational aids available at that airport.
• Parallel runways
There are 4 types of parallel runways. These are
named according to how closely they are placed
next to each other. Operations per hour will vary
depending on the total number of runways and the
mix of aircraft. In IFR conditions for predominantly
light aircraft, the number of operations would range
between 64 to 128 per hour.
• Open-V runways
Two runways that diverge from different directions but do NOT
intersect form a shape that looks like an "open-V" are called open-V
runways. This configuration is useful when there is little to no wind
as it allows for both runways to be used at the same time. When
the winds become strong in one direction, then only one runway
will be used. When takeoffs and landings are made away from the
two closer ends, the number of operations per hour significantly
increases. When takeoffs and landings are made toward the two
closer ends, the number of operations per hour can be reduced by
• Intersecting runways
Two or more runways that cross each other are
classified as intersecting runways. This type of
configuration is used when there are relatively
strong prevailing winds from more than one
direction during the year. When the winds are strong
from one direction, operations will be limited to only
one runway. With relatively light winds, both
runways can be used simultaneously.
Naming of Runways
• Runways are named by a number between 01
and 36, which is generally the magnetic azimuth
of the runway's heading in decadegrees. 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 would be heading 90° (east).
• A runway can normally be used in both
directions, and is named for each direction
separately: e.g., "runway 33" in one direction is
"runway 15" when used in the other. The two
numbers usually differ by 18 (= 180°).
• The area marked with yellow chevrons (V
shapes) are the blast pads, also referred to
as overrun areas or stopways. These areas
are often constructed before the start of a
runway to reduce the erosion of earth by the
jet blast produced by large planes when they
power up for take-off. Blast pads are often
not as strong as the main paved surface of
the runway and aircraft are not allowed to
use it except in extreme emergencies.
• The threshold is essentially the start or end
of the actual runway itself.
• The touch down zone is the target area for
pilots to stick the wheels of their aircraft on
to the runway.
• Runway end identifier lights (REIL) – unidirectional (facing approach
direction) or omnidirectional pair of synchronized flashing lights
installed at the runway threshold, one on each side.
• Runway end lights – a pair of four lights on each side of the runway on
precision instrument runways, these lights extend along the full width
of the runway. These lights show green when viewed by approaching
aircraft and red when seen from the runway.
• Runway edge lights – white elevated lights that run the length of the
runway on either side. On precision instrument runways, the edge-
lighting becomes amber in the last 2,000 ft (610 m) of the runway, or
last third of the runway, whichever is less. Taxiways are differentiated
by being bordered by blue lights, or by having green centre lights,
depending on the width of the taxiway, and the complexity of the taxi
• Runway centerline lighting system (RCLS) – lights embedded into the
surface of the runway at 50 ft (15 m) intervals along the runway
centerline on some precision instrument runways. White except the
last 900 m (3,000 ft): alternate white and red for next 600 m (1,969 ft)
and red for last 300 m (984 ft).
• Touchdown zone lights (TDZL) – rows of white light bars (with three in
each row) at 30 or 60 m (98 or 197 ft) intervals on either side of the
centerline for 900 m (3,000 ft).
• Taxiway centerline lead-off lights – installed along lead-off
markings, alternate green and yellow lights embedded into the
runway pavement. It starts with green light at about the
runway centerline to the position of first centerline light
beyond the Hold-Short markings on the taxiway.
• Taxiway centerline lead-on lights – installed the same way as
taxiway centerline lead-off Lights, but directing airplane traffic
in the opposite direction.
• Land and hold short lights – a row of white pulsating lights
installed across the runway to indicate hold short position on
some runways that are facilitating land and hold short
• Approach lighting system (ALS) – a lighting system installed on
the approach end of an airport runway and consists of a series
of light bars, strobe lights, or a combination of the two that
extends outward from the runway end.
• Types of runway safety incidents include:
• Runway excursion - an incident involving
only a single aircraft, where it makes an
inappropriate exit from the runway (e.g. Thai
Airways Flight 679).
• Runway overrun (also known as
an overshoot) - a type of excursion where
the aircraft is unable to stop before the end
of the runway (e.g. Air France Flight 358).
• Runway incursion - an incident involving
incorrect presence of a vehicle, person or
another aircraft on the runway (e.g. Tenerife
disaster ( Pan American World Airways Flight
1736 and KLM Flight 4805 ).
• Runway confusion - an aircraft makes use of
the wrong runway for landing or takeoff
(e.g. Singapore Airlines Flight 006, Western
Airlines Flight 2605).
• Runway undershoot - an aircraft that lands
short of the runway (e.g. British Airways
Flight 38, Asiana Airlines Flight 214).