In areas where there are many airports close to each other under one Class B airspace...

  1. Do nearby airport towers coordinate together with runways to use as to reduce the workload on the terminal control?
  2. Does the terminal control tell them which runways to use?
  3. Is it free-for-all for the towers, and the terminal control just deals with it?

Note that if they all choose the same direction more or less, all takeoffs and landings will be parallel, but airport layout dependent, a non-wind facing runway might be favorable for a certain airport.

  • $\begingroup$ You make it sound like there is a big argument and in the end whoever shouts loudest gets to decide which runway to use. In reality, everything is determined based on predefined written procedures, and it is often up to the supervisor at the appropriate facility to determine the runway in use $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Sep 11 '16 at 19:04

No, Tower has final authority over which runway to use.

  1. Tower controllers have direct line-of-sight with the runway.
  2. Tower has better knowledge about equipment outages, obstacles and other special situations happening on or around the runway.
  3. Tower is the one who is granting landing clearances. They have authority to reject planes that are coming in from the wrong direction.

The job of Terminal Control is to "pass" the airplane to Tower. From that point onwards, the responsibility of Terminal Control has ended; Tower will direct the plane until it leaves Tower's responsibility (miss approached / on the ground). For example, a pilot can approach an airport with an published instrument approach, then circle to land on a different runway. The runway is located at the airport. Therefore the responsibility lies with whoever has control at the airport, not the surrounding airspace. The airspace directly at the airport belongs to Tower, not Terminal Control.

Your concern of conflicting traffic is, to a certain extend, invalid, because they have been addressed by the airport designers. See, for example, the approach for VMMC:

enter image description here

  1. The approach begins from the South or South West. An approach from the East would have conflicted 07 approaches for VHHH.
  2. Missed approach requires a climb to at least 5,500 feet. That keeps the plane separated vertically from departing or arriving traffic at the West of VHHH.

For reference, 07R approach for VHHH:

enter image description here

You can find similar cases for airports like KLAX, KJFK and EGLL.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please post sources for your images. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Sep 12 '16 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ You must really hate me by now, I don't have the faintest recollection of even seeing your answer. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 May 21 '17 at 3:29

No, that's handled by the towered airport itself. Now approach control is going to know what runways are currently in use at that airport and will direct incoming aircraft to approaches for the runways in use.

Ultimately its up to the pilot in command to use the runway ATC directs or request another runway.


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