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103 votes
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Why are Gatwick's runways too close together?

Historically, Gatwick had only one runway (08R/26L) with a taxiway to the north, but this obviously would cause problems if that runway was out of use for any reason - emergency, scheduled maintenance,...
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89 votes
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Why don't short runways use ramps for takeoff?

V1. There are other valid reasons, as have been listed - cost, bidirectional runway use, etc. These would still not completely disqualify ramps, just limit them to very special circumstances. But the ...
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  • 17.8k
70 votes

Why do airports have directional runways instead of a large area to operate in any direction?

The typical World War II "A" runway shape solves this issue, without covering a huge amount of area with concrete, etc. Even so, that configuration has fallen out of use in modern airports. ...
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  • 8,850
68 votes

Why can't some airports handle heavy aircraft while others do it easily (same runway length)?

There are a few possible reasons Bournemouth (EGHH) can support a Boeing 787 but Kherson (UKOH) can't. Runway length is definitely not the issue. The runway at EGHH is 2271 metres long, the one at ...
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63 votes

Why do airports in the UK have so few runways?

There are perhaps 101 non aviation-related reasons why the UK does not have larger airports, such as space consideration (we're only a small island!), politics (NIMBY!), civil engineering (Airports ...
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62 votes
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How do PAPI lights work?

Here's how the PAPI lights work: Depending on the angle of the viewer, a different color is seen: Then each light is calibrated to an angle: The good thing about this is that it's dead simple ...
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59 votes
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How to build a 2 mile long runway on a 1 mile square island?

Anyone who has ever flown at Zar (EPZR) in Poland knows how much a runway slope can reduce the needed field length. For aircraft which need a 2 miles long level runway, a 1 mile long one with a 15% ...
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59 votes
Accepted

Does runway 32/33R at Madrid actually have a kink in it?

An interesting feature of your question is the apparent double-exposure of runway number in your image. And I suspect it will also account for/explain why you see a kink in an image. Occasionally, ...
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  • 25.8k
50 votes

Why don't short runways use ramps for takeoff?

Because then you can only land in one direction. What do you do if the wind blows exactly along the runway so that departing and landing planes have only tailwind then? You would waste a precious ...
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  • 31.6k
48 votes

How do PAPI lights work?

They use a lens system that projects the light in a narrow beam so each plane sees something different and makes the glide slope indicators a passive system. you can see this nicely on a foggy ...
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48 votes
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Are there any real life instances of aircraft aborting a takeoff or landing to avoid a vehicle?

Not only is it possible but it happens. This is formally called a "runway incursion" and it does happen like 2005 Logan Airport runway incursion or the B733 / vehicle, Amsterdam Netherlands, 2010. ...
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  • 96.3k
47 votes
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Minimum number of runways required for international airports?

Instead of just looking at the minimum number of runways, I though it would be interesting to have a look at the overall statistics for the number of runways. So I went through my navigation database (...
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45 votes
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Do military bases still employ wheel watchers?

No They do not continue this practice anymore. This is likely because landing gear are more reliable now than they were in the 70's. There is also the practice of Air Traffic Control prompting ...
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  • 2,389
44 votes
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Why might a too-wide runway be a problem?

The issue has always been human perception. Pilots are tasked with trying to make great landings. One way they do that is with peripheral vision. If the runway is too wide, they lose that extra ...
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  • 11.2k
43 votes
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What is the biggest airplane that does not need a paved runway?

Military transports are designed to be operated from unpaved runways- by extension, any of these converted to civilian use can operate from unpaved runways. For example, the Antonov Airlines ...
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  • 98.7k
43 votes

What does the letter G mean in a runway identifier?

For runways with other than hard surfaces it is common to list the runways with a letter G for grass or in the case of a seaplane base, with W for water. An example of this is runway 8G at Boulder (...
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  • 3,618
42 votes

What is the biggest airplane that does not need a paved runway?

The H-4 Hercules (Spruce Goose) should easily win this contest. That plane was ridiculously huge and, in fact, couldn't use a runway, rather it was a "flying boat" that took off from the the water. ...
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  • 23.6k
42 votes

Why do airports remove/realign runways?

In some cases the prevailing winds change and certain runways fall out of use. Since airports tend to be land limited they may wish to use the land for hangars or other facilities so the runways are ...
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  • 96.3k
38 votes
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Why can't runway 18 at Frankfurt Airport accept takeoffs or landings in the opposite direction?

Let us consider the operations other than takeoff on runway 18. Takeoff Runway 36 There are buildings not far off the departure end and directly after the end of the runway is a movement area and ...
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  • 34.9k
37 votes

Southwest corner of LAX has peculiar airplane parts, what is this area?

It is an aircraft fire simulator. They use it for training emergency response personnel and vehicles. You can see them training on one in this YouTube video Source: Leipzig Halle Airport
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  • 35.2k
37 votes

Why not make the touchdown zone of runways wider than the rest?

Because most runways already are as narrow as safely feasible. Let us look at your question piece by piece: Save money by making the rest of the runway narrower You seem to be assuming we are ...
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35 votes
Accepted

How can pilots differentiate runways and taxiways during landing?

During daytime and good visibility, it should be pretty obvious that runway markings are white and taxiway markings are yellow. Runways have the runway designator in big white numbers at the end and a ...
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34 votes
Accepted

How much force does a 747 land with?

I do not know the exact numbers for oleo stroke and so on, but this is how you would calculate this. A 747-400 weighs 400 tons on take-off and 296 tons on landing, maximum. See here for the source of ...
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34 votes

Are runways booked by airlines to land their planes?

No one can "book" runways. Traffic on a runway is managed by air traffic control, whose job it is to ensure a safe and expeditious flow of air traffic. Generally speaking, a place on the runway is ...
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