i530j
Posts: 230
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 9:17 am

### Runway Numbers

Ok, as you all know most airports have runway numbers. What do they mean? Does every airport have different numbers? Can two runways have the same numbers? At MCO there are 18L&R, 17L, 17R, 36R&L. Please help me under stand.
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LeonB1985
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### RE: Runway Numbers

The numbers are based on the magnetic headings, e.g. 270 would be runway 27. R and L is used to distinguish between parallel runways (right and left). Sometimes you get a 'C' too for centre.
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HPRamper
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### RE: Runway Numbers

I'm not sure what the numbers mean. But I believe there is also another letter used for crosswind runways.

i530j
Posts: 230
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### RE: Runway Numbers

Are they always N and S or can they be E and W?
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N908AW
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### RE: Runway Numbers

Question- I was doing some controlling on VATSIM last night in Fargo, and they have a runway with a heading of 174.8. On my FAA chart it said 18, but on one of the pilots' charts it said 17. One would think something this important would be uniform. Wouldn't they make a big deal out of it when they change numbers due to the heading changing?

[Edited 2005-11-08 02:51:20]
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OPNLguy
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### RE: Runway Numbers

Multiply the runway number x 10 and you get the rough compass heading, i.e. 17=170 and 18=180. The L, C, and R designate parallel runways (i.e. L and R if there are two, and C if there is a third one. At bigger airports, 17 and 18 might actually be parallel.

Airports build runways oriented to the way the wind blows most of the time, and also factor in other items.
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glydrflyr
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### RE: Runway Numbers

Runways are numbered by their magnetic heading, plus or minus five degrees. Thus, runway 24 could actually have a magnetic heading of 237 degrees or even 244 degrees. Runway 10 would have a heading of 100 degrees, while runway 27 has a heading of 270 degrees, and runway 01 has a heading of 10 degrees. Where there are multiple parallel runways, the one on the right is XXR, the one on the left is XXL and the center one is XXC. This numbering system is universally used
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BigGSFO
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### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting LeonB1985 (Reply 1):The numbers are based on the magnetic headings, e.g. 270 would be runway 27. R and L is used to distinguish between parallel runways (right and left). Sometimes you get a 'C' too for centre.

This is correct. Also look at the number on the other end of the runway. It will be the exact opposite on the compass....for example two parallel runways: runway 9L will be 27R at the other end (did I do the math right?).

deltaguy767
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### RE: Runway Numbers

Search buddy there has been many topics on this in the Tech/Opps column. Oh and BTW a belated Welcome to A.net l530j

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PanAm747
Posts: 4713
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 4:46 am

### RE: Runway Numbers

Years ago, I had the same question. I wrote in to Airliners magazine, and my question was answered in print (Jan/Feb, 1998). I quote sections:

Question: I thought I had the system of runway desgination figured out - compass heading to the nearest ten degrees indicating direction, and R for right, C for center, and L for left. I noticed some anomalies with this however - SAN's runway 27 is nowhere near 270 degrees. How are they officially designated?

Answer: It is the magnetic heading. This is the difference between the Magnetic North Pole and the real North Pole. This difference grows as one moves further and further away from the line of zero magnetic variation, which in North America, runs north-south, passing just west of Chicago.

In the case of SAN, the Jeppesen approach chart will list not only the runway designation, but the degree of magnetic variation as well. At SAN, the magnetic vector is 13 degrees to the right of the truth north, which is why runway 27 appears to be 286 degrees. Subtract 13, and you get 273, which rounded off would be runway 27.

Runway 13/31 at IND was changed to 14/32 in October, 1989.

Three parallel runways = R,L,C

Four parallel runways will be split in half - two will take one designation, and the other two one degree off. LAX has four east-west runways, the northern two are 6/24 L and R, while the southern two are 7/25 L and R.

Hope that helps!
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N908AW
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:05 pm

### RE: Runway Numbers

I believe MSP's runways were changed from 11/29 to 12/30, when did that change?
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Glom
Posts: 2051
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2005 2:38 am

### RE: Runway Numbers

I believe DFW has five parallel runways, so two of them are called 36 and three are 35 or something like that.

 Quoting I530j (Reply 3):Are they always N and S or can they be E and W?

Most runways tend to be E and W simply because Coriolis makes the wind blow from the West generally so.

EMBQA
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### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting N908AW (Reply 11): believe MSP's runways were changed from 11/29 to 12/30, when did that change?

Every runway in the world changes. As the earth is turning on its axis, it changes by around 0.1 deg every 5 years. If you actually look on a set of 'plates' they give the annual degrees of change.

On my FAA chart it said 18, but on one of the pilots' charts it said 17. One would think something this important would be uniform. Wouldn't they make a big deal out of it when they change numbers due to the heading changing?

Who had the current set of charts...?? My guess would be the pilot.

[Edited 2005-11-08 04:01:48]
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Glom
Posts: 2051
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2005 2:38 am

### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting EMBQA (Reply 13):As the earth is turning on its axis, it changes by around 0.1 deg every 5 years. If you actually look on a set of 'plates' they give the annual degrees of change.

It's not to do with that. It's too do with the shifting of the magnetic pole.

EMBQA
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### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting Glom (Reply 14):It's not to do with that. It's too do with the shifting of the magnetic pole.

.......and why is the magnetic pole changing....????
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Glom
Posts: 2051
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2005 2:38 am

### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting EMBQA (Reply 15):.......and why is the magnetic pole changing....????

Because the motions of the outer core that generate the magnetic field are somewhat freaky. Just be grateful we have a uniform magnetic field. We won't have one for much longer. It's going towards one of its pole flip phases where it becomes all chaotic and messed up with multiple poles.

jetmatt777
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### RE: Runway Numbers

on FS i noticed a 36"w" what does that mean?
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KELPkid
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### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting HPRamper (Reply 2):I'm not sure what the numbers mean. But I believe there is also another letter used for crosswind runways.

Huh?

Definitely not the case...the runway number is (almost) always the magnetic heading of the runway divided by 10 (this is the heading that aircraft would have to be flown to go straight down the runway in no wind conditions).

In the U.S., as in many (but not all) places in world L, R, and C are used when you have multiple runways at the same airport going the same way (these mean Left, Right, and Center). Sometimes, when there are >3 runways pointing at the exact same magnetic heading, they choose to "fudge" the runway heading by 10 degrees (examples: LAX and PHX). The runways actually all have the same heading, but the FAA, to avoid confusion, chose instead to fudge the runway heading a bit so that you wouldn't have to come up with a confusing (and non-standard) runway designation system.

On a side note, I've flown in Mexico a few times, where parallel runways are designated "E" and "D" ("escierda" and "derecha", the Spanish words for "Left" and "Right"). Before anyone flames me on this, this was at MMCU (Chihuahua, MX, sorry I don't know the IATA 3-letter identifier, only the ICAO 4-letter one).
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KELPkid
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### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting Jetmatt777 (Reply 17):on FS i noticed a 36"w" what does that mean?

Sometimes in the U.S., this is used to designate a "Waterway" located on an airport (a trough of water for a seaplane to land at a land airport). The only place I've seen this is in Alaska, but I'm sure that there's other places that these exist...
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tguman
Posts: 380
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2001 11:47 pm

### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting N908AW (Reply 4):Question- I was doing some controlling on VATSIM last night in Fargo, and they have a runway with a heading of 174.8. On my FAA chart it said 18, but on one of the pilots' charts it said 17. One would think something this important would be uniform. Wouldn't they make a big deal out of it when they change numbers due to the heading changing?

Sometime in late 2004/early 2005, Fargo changed its main runway numbers to 18/36. The pilot's chart is most likely out of date. NOTAM's are posted until it comes out in the newest publications. Thus the importance of being up to date with all publications when flying (even if it is expensive)

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theunclesam
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 5:13 am

### RE: Runway Numbers

 Quoting KELPkid (Reply 18):Sometimes in the U.S., this is used to designate a "Waterway" located on an airport (a trough of water for a seaplane to land at a land airport). The only place I've seen this is in Alaska, but I'm sure that there's other places that these exist...

Sometimes you will see water runways designated as N, S, E or W depending on the orientation of the runway. In this case, they don't use numbers at all!
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Demoose
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Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2001 8:06 am

### RE: Runway Numbers

MAN will be changing its runway designation from 24/06 L and R to 23/05 L and R in the coming year due to magnetic shift. The initial process is already underway as alot of preparation and cost is involved when doing this as it doesn't happen very often!
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