A pioneering new circular airport design concept could prove to be a major game-changer for the aviation industry.
At 3.5 kilometers in diameter, the ‘endless runway’ is a departure from the typical ‘fixed’ layout, which means it has a number of key advantages.
In a recent BBC report NLR’s Henk Hesselink revealed the ‘big idea’ is to ensure aircraft can take off and land with no crosswinds, only headwind. Henk said he was inspired to find another way after watching videos of planes landing dramatically in crosswinds. With this new design that challenge is eliminated, as aircraft – able to land anywhere on the circle – will always find a point where there is only a headwind.
The project team also said passengers needn’t worry that it might feel like being on a rollercoaster. The size of the circle means “a typical landing only requires a part of the runway with a limited curve,” a statement said. While the banked border will ensure planes can easily take the bend.
And thanks to the smarter design, it is able to replicate the capacity of a conventional airport with four runways, using the length of just three, making it greener and more efficient.
Finding innovative, more sustainable solutions – like the ‘endless runway’ – is crucial from an environmental perspective. With passenger numbers predicted to nearly double – to 7.2 billion passengers by 2035, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), huge additional pressures will be placed on it.
The ‘endless runway’ is also great news for those living in the vicinity. Not only does it offer a reduction in flight times around the airport, as planes are able to fly straight in and out, it allows for a new approach to be taken from the start.
“We will be able to design routes that avoid the areas where most people live. Or we can design routes such that everyone around the airfield will experience a similar level of noise,” NLR said.