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If an airport has runway 09/27 and the wind is at 180 or 360, which runway is used? Is it possible for both ends to be used depending on the amount of traffic?

marked as duplicate by fooot, xxavier, Gerry, Carlo Felicione, Ryan Mortensen Dec 7 at 5:04

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  • Disagree with the duplicate suggestion; this question is clearly about the specific case of direct sidewind, not about runway selection in general. – a CVn Dec 6 at 19:06
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    @aCVn well if there isn't a prevailing wind then all of the other factors listed there will be the important factors. – fooot Dec 6 at 22:11
up vote 2 down vote accepted

One would basically follow the same guidance as if the winds were calm: If the field is tower controlled the controllers will pick a runway. There may be a primary runway direction preferred in these circumstances for noise abatement, traffic routing, (i.e. Instrument Approach or Standard Instrument Departure procedures favoring one runway over another) or other considerations, otherwise they might consider whether the winds are forecast to shift to favor one or the other and base their decision on that.

At a non-tower controlled airport pilots would be expected to monitor a common traffic frequency and follow what others are doing. And if you are the first or only person there, lucky you... take your pick!

  • Even at a towered airport, you may get to take your pick if the winds are calm (or light and variable). One of the weirder ATC calls I've gotten: "Hold short of runway 33 for departing aircraft on runway 15, caution wake turbulence." Opposing arrivals would be more difficult to manage due to the potential for go-arounds, but I've seen an example of that too. – Stephen Sprunk Dec 6 at 18:10
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    Another consideration would be which direction has an instrument approach. Even on a VFR day arriving traffic might have to descend through clouds, the tower might favor the runway with an approach. – JScarry Dec 6 at 19:52
  • @JSCarry, good point. That's kinda what I meant by "traffic routing" but I expanded my explanation for clarity. Thanks! – Michael Hall Dec 7 at 16:28

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