Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Global Runway Orientation

More runways around the world are built on a north-south orientation than on a north-west axis. You can see this beautifully visualized on the Trails of Wind map. This interactive map colors airport runways around the world based on their orientation.

Aircraft are easier to land without a crosswind and planes can more easily take-off and land upwind. Aircraft also need a lower ground speed at both landing and take-off when pointing into the wind. As a consequence runways are usually built to point in the prevailing wind direction. In fact compiling a wind rose showing local wind directions is often one of the first steps taken when building a new airport runway.

On the Trails of Wind interactive map airports around the world are displayed with colored lines. The color of the lines reflect the orientation of the airport runways. Blue lines indicate runways on a north-south axis and yellow lines show runways on an east-west axis. If you zoom in on the central states in the USA you can clearly see a majority of runways have a north-south orientation. In Europe, the UK, France and Germany seem dominated by east-west orientated runways, while around the Mediterranean runways appear to be constructed along a north-south axis.

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