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Why Do Some Airports Only Have 1 Runway?  
User currently offlinegoblin211 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 1209 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7479 times:

The incident at GCM got me thinking, even if an airport is controlled or uncontrolled, shouldn't there be a backup runway to avoid incidents like this one? I was thinking there should be some kind of FAA regulation that all airports have at least two runways so it could still be operational. I suppose diversions are much less costly but departures are still affected.


From the airport with love
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24786 posts, RR: 22
Reply 1, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7464 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
The incident at GCM got me thinking, even if an airport is controlled or uncontrolled, shouldn't there be a backup runway to avoid incidents like this one? I was thinking there should be some kind of FAA regulation that all airports have at least two runways so it could still be operational. I suppose diversions are much less costly but departures are still affected.

GVA has only one runway and is served by almost 50 carriers. There is simply no room for a second runway.


User currently offlinemacsog6 From Singapore, joined Jan 2010, 525 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7464 times:
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Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
be a backup runway

Not really practical. Take SAN, you'd just have to close it completely. Additionally, many small airfields could not afford to build a second runway "just in case". And, if you have a diversion airfield reasonably close by, there are better uses for public funds.



Sixty Plus Years of Flying! "I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Saint Ex
User currently offlinegoblin211 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 1209 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7392 times:

Quoting macsog6 (Reply 2):
if you have a diversion airfield reasonably close by, there are better uses for public funds.

But what about departures? They could use the second runway. But yes, I understand it costs money to build runways.



From the airport with love
User currently offlineaklrno From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 920 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7349 times:

Even for big airports that have room runways are very expensive and its best to defer the second runway as long as possible. At AKL there is officially just one runway but the main taxiway is strong enough to serve as the runway when needed. It must be an operational hassle, but there is a shortage of 747/380 capable runways in New Zealand. AKL is planning a second runway just for smaller aircraft when they have some more spare cash. Please shop more at duty free. (disclosure: I am a shareholder at AKL).

User currently offlineBasilFawlty From Netherlands, joined Jun 2009, 1313 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7267 times:

Not enough space is the most important reason at the busiest singe runway airports. At other airports with less traffic it is just too expensive to built a second runway just for back-up.


'Every year donkeys and mules kill more people than plane crashes'
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24786 posts, RR: 22
Reply 6, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 7143 times:

I recall an incident (photo below) at GVA in 1999 where the nose gear on an IB MD-87 would not extend. They foamed the runway and the aircraft landed with the nose gear retracted. It was in the middle of a busy Saturday towards the end of the ski season when there are many weekend ski charters, apart from the regular scheduled flights. GVA's only runway was closed for several hours resulting in dozens of delays and diversions of inbound flights.

There were many comments that the aircraft should have been requested to divert to an airport (of which there are many not far away, e.g. ZRH) with more than one runway to avoid having to shut down the airport until the aircraft could be moved.


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Photo © Martin Steiner



User currently offlinejoost From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 3161 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 6519 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
Why Do Some Airports Only Have 1 Runway?

At least in Europe, most airports have only 1 runway. In the UK, important airports like STN, LTN, BHX, NCL and GLA have only one runway. Other examples are STR, NUE, BLL, RIX, LIN*, BLQ, NAP, CTA, VLC, ALC, AGP**, SVQ, FAO, OPO, etc. And in a way, one could add LHR to the list: they have 2 runways, but no back-up possibilities, as they are both permanently used to handle all flights.

LGW is a special situation, as they have one operational runway but a back-up facility as the taxiway can be used as runway. But not simultaneously.

* LIN has a 2,442m and a 601m runway. The 601m runway isn't of any use for back-up purposes.
** AGP is constructing a second runway currently

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
I suppose diversions are much less costly but departures are still affected.

The construction of extra runways at all these airports is way more costly than the occasional diversion due to runway occupancy.


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7551 posts, RR: 32
Reply 8, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 6372 times:

Very few airports need a second runway. That is why pilots have diversion airports in the flight plan.

Most airports with one runway were originally built decades ago - and there is really no room for expansion. Many airports in the US with multiple runways and not real high traffic levels were originally built by US Army Air Corps or US Air Force. In quite a few cases, the local government organization which now owns them is closing all but runway - simply because they are too expensive to maintain properly.

The US FAA does have a criteria for a second runway for cities seeking grants for construction assistance, and very, very few airports have a high enough traffic volume to justify a second runway.

Some new airports built around the world in the last decade are single runway airports - simply because the costs and traffic levels do not justify a second runway.

As mentioned above - geography plays a big role in the decision to add a second runway. While GCM might look like a second runway is possible - you can also see a lot of homes would have to be moved, and most of what looks like open land is mangrove swamps completely unsuitable for building anything.

Yes, a runway incident can inconvenience some people for awhile. But overall this happens almost never at most airports, and for a couple hours only in most cases each year.


User currently offlineSonomaFlyer From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 1692 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 6316 times:
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Some history of SAN

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Diego_International_Airport

Space considerations and an extremely hostile set of neighbors make a second runway a non-starter. It is now one of the busier single runway airports in the world.

The risk of a shut down by an accident is simply one of those risks that must be taken. Diversion options for an airport like SAN are plentiful and its been quite some time since SAN was shut down due to an accident.


User currently onlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16991 posts, RR: 67
Reply 10, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6098 times:

The ultimate, and I believe busiest in the world back in the day, one runway airport was Kai Tak. Hardly room for the first runway, let alone a second one.


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Photo © Alexander K.




"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24786 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 6078 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 10):
The ultimate, and I believe busiest in the world back in the day, one runway airport was Kai Tak. Hardly room for the first runway, let alone a second one.

LCY doesn't even have room for a parallel taxiway. All flights have to taxi the length of the runway either before takeoff or after landing, depending which way the wind is blowing. That reduces LCY's capacity significantly due to the extra time the runway is occupied. And for LCY's first few years it also lacked the holding bay visible at the near (east) end of the runway in the photo below which at least now permits one or two departing aircraft to hold there until another aircraft has landed. Previously an arriving flight couldn't land from that direction until the departing flight had turned around on the runway and taken off.


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Photo © N94504



Holding bay under construction in this photo.

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Photo © Steve Hall



User currently offline26point2 From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 804 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 6055 times:

An airport with one runway that REALLY needs more than one is TXKF, Bermuda.

Hundreds of miles from alternate airports. If someone wads it up on the active it could be bad for an enroute that can't make it back to the mainland. Nearest alternate...N. Carolina?


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6343 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5955 times:

Technically, unless there is a restriction allowing takeoffs and landings only one way, every airport in the world has, in fact, at least two runways    e.g. an east-west runway has Runway 09 and runway 27


Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently onlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16991 posts, RR: 67
Reply 14, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5811 times:

LCY is pretty cool, but Kai Tak took 747s, dozens a day. And it had a mountain on the approach path, necessitating an offset ILS and a rather spectacular visual turn at 600 ft altitude to get onto final. I still maintain it was the ultimate one runway airport.  


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineoly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6682 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 5496 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
The incident at GCM got me thinking, even if an airport is controlled or uncontrolled, shouldn't there be a backup runway to avoid incidents like this one? I was thinking there should be some kind of FAA regulation that all airports have at least two runways so it could still be operational. I suppose diversions are much less costly but departures are still affected.

What happens, adding up a couple of one-in-a-millions, if there's a crash on the other runway as well?

Also, it may well be that if an incident is bad enough, even an airport with more than one runway will need to close anyway because all emergency vehicles are dealing with the incident and there is no cover for other runways.

Others probably know the rules and regs regarding airport emergency coverage vs numbers of runways and types of aircraft. So JFK or ORD will have a lot more emergency vehicles than, say, Hartford or Bangor.



wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlinexero9 From Canada, joined Feb 2007, 152 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 5396 times:

This actually made me think of a situation that unfolded at CYKZ. I was doing pre-flight stuff when this happened so I missed most of it, but a few months ago a plane landed on the main runway (15/33) and had some issue with it's landing gear I believe. Basically the plane sat there for a while, and ops were shifted to runway 21. Now, makes me wonder what happens if CYKZ only had the one runway, and you have a bunch of student pilots either in the circuit, or making their way back to the field. Would they send them off to land at another field? Keep them in a hold?

I can only imagine if a poor student was on their first solo flight and this happened.


User currently offlinesasd209 From British Indian Ocean Territory, joined Oct 2007, 642 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5295 times:

Quoting oly720man (Reply 15):
Others probably know the rules and regs regarding airport emergency coverage vs numbers of runways and types of aircraft. So JFK or ORD will have a lot more emergency vehicles than, say, Hartford or Bangor.

It's the ARFF index in the USA. JFK, ORD, and BGR are all index 'E' airfields while BDL is an index 'D' field. A really nice and fairly accurate write-up of the various index meanings is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraf...cue_and_Firefighting#Airport_index


User currently offlinedxing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5153 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
The incident at GCM got me thinking, even if an airport is controlled or uncontrolled, shouldn't there be a backup runway to avoid incidents like this one?

I guess if you are talking about an airport of any size with commercial service now would be the time to chime in with, multiple runways or single runway, if there is an incident or an accident, the field is generally closed at least for a short time. The reason is that the fire fighting capability is busy with the incident/accident unless you are talking about a really major airport like DIA. So even if there are two runways the airport is generally closed as least for a short period of time until the situation is under control and emergency services are released for service.

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 12):
An airport with one runway that REALLY needs more than one is TXKF, Bermuda.

Hundreds of miles from alternate airports. If someone wads it up on the active it could be bad for an enroute that can't make it back to the mainland. Nearest alternate...N. Carolina?

ORF is the closest mainland alternate. But BDA flights must include either fuel for an alternate or a 2 hour island reserve which is essentially the same thing.


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