This is Ramstein air base in Germany,

Ramstein AB

Why would you want to have runways converging (or diverging) like that, doesn't seem to do you much good in terms of parallel usage (either the approach, or the go-around would be exciting).

The only reason I can think of is that it gives you more separation when launching aircraft in rapid succession, but then again only in one direction. And it's not like the military would bother much with separation anyway when there's a – shall we say – pressing reason to get in the air fast.

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    $\begingroup$ My guess would be that they didn't have any more land at the far end. :-) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    May 4, 2014 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger, hah, good point. Didn't cross my mind. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    May 4, 2014 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ Could also be a result of a geological survey. Perhaps the ground wasn't stable enough along the parallel line? $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    May 4, 2014 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ A taxiway (India) was converted to a runway (8-26) in 2004-2005. $\endgroup$ May 4, 2014 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ It is not just military bases. Here is the runway diagram for San Juan, Puerto Rico. $\endgroup$ May 5, 2014 at 16:22

2 Answers 2


Ramstein is a major US logistics airbase in Germany. Originally Ramstein used to have only one runway. The runway was built with fighter aircraft in mind and could also host C-130 Hercules aircraft. Bigger freight aircraft and passenger aircraft could not use Ramstein and were handled at Rhein-Main base, which was at Frankfurt's international airport.

When Frankfurt needed to expand their civil operations, Rhein-Main base was closed and all the US military tranport operations were transfered to Ramstein. In order to accomodate the big transport aircraft at Ramstein, the airport needed an upgrade. To keep the base open during construction works it was elected to convert the old India taxiway into a runway (08-26) which was made longer, wider and thicker that the original 09-27 runway. Also new aprons were added to the North and South of the runways. When the work was completed in 2005, the old runway was closed for reconstruction. It was then resurfaced and extended so that since 2008 there are two operational runways at the airport, so that in case of maintenance or an incident the operations can continue.

There is no relation to launching fighter aircraft in rapid succession.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you saying that they don't use both runways at the same time then? $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    May 5, 2014 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @JayCarr no I am not saying that. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    May 5, 2014 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting history, but doesn't seem to answer the OP's question, "Why have converging runways?" $\endgroup$
    – Ken
    May 6, 2014 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Ken it answers why the runways are converging that way in this special case. Despite the questions title, OP didn't ask for more. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2014 at 10:10

Diverging departure paths during a surge (remember Ramstein is a military base, and used to have QRA interceptors on standby 24/7) is probably the main reason here.
Shaves a few seconds from the time needed to get all the aircraft in the air in an emergency.
Landing them all rapidly is less important, as most would be expected to not make it home, such is the nature of military planning for all out war.

As you can see, the alert pads are at the end from which the runways diverge (the far end in your photo), at the other end there's no quick way to enter the runways at all (you need to backtrack along one to reach the treshold of the other). As these would have been constructed with the prevailing winds in mind, that's no real problem.


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