PanAm747
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Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:21 am

What an incredible picture of this beautiful island:


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Photo © Roberto Benetti



According to the great circle mapper, this runway is 11,627 feet long.

While Malta is quite beautiful, it certainly is not Singapore in terms of wide-bodied jet traffic, nor is it really a "hot-and-high" operations airport.

Is there a particular reason that this runway is so long? Or did the Maltese actually have the foresight to plan ahead (an alien concept my country!)?
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HS748
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:35 am

Quoting PanAm747 (Thread starter):
Is there a particular reason that this runway is so long?

Malta's strategic position - long runways are useful for military traffic  Wink
 
zvezda
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:35 am

My recollection is that it was built to accomodate military jets.
 
mhodgson
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:07 am

It allows the B1 to perform at the airshow every year  Smile
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ikramerica
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:19 am

Allows diplomats to arrive there to for summits.
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flyf15
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:25 am

11,600ft isn't actually really anything out of the normal for an airport. Heck, there is a small, uncontrolled, general aviation airport about 30 miles from where I live that just had a brand new 10,000ft runway built.
 
MDorBust
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:44 am

Isn't 11,000 feet the recomended length for runways operating trans-continental traffic?
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flyingfool
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 9:40 am

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 6):



Quoting MDorBust (Reply 6):
Isn't 11,000 feet the recomended length for runways operating trans-continental traffic?

Totally depends on the type and weight of the aircrafts which are being used for the flights...
 
MDorBust
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 9:52 am

Quoting Flyingfool (Reply 7):
Totally depends on the type and weight of the aircrafts which are being used for the flights...

Clearly a common sense statment.

I was wondering about the recomendation by the ALPA. I believe I heard that number after the AF over-run in Canada recently. Perhaps some people more familiar with airport design would know.
"I KICKED BURNING TERRORIST SO HARD IN BALLS THAT I TORE A TENDON" - Alex McIlveen
 
FedEx
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:18 am

I may be wrong, but I thought I remembered hearing NASA had something to do with the current length of the runway as a suitable emergency field for the shuttle. Has anyone else heard of this?
 
skysurfer
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:03 am

I know this is off topic and i apologize, but in todays newspaper (can't remember if it was the Globe and Mail or the Kingston Whig Standard) there was a great article on runway lengths in the Canadian arctic. It was focussing on the fact that due to more transpolar flights occuring, is Canada preapred for the event of a crash/accident in the far north, and are our runways up north long enough to accomodate large, long haul aircraft should they need to divert (they quoted the UAL777 that suffered engine failure). Just thought i'd mention what i read this morning before work!

Cheers
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LTU932
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:24 pm

Quoting Flyingfool (Reply 7):
Quoting MDorBust (Reply 6):
Isn't 11,000 feet the recomended length for runways operating trans-continental traffic?

Totally depends on the type and weight of the aircrafts which are being used for the flights...

And also the altitude and prevailing winds in the direction where you're heading. However, it can also be done on a near 10,000 ft runway. As an example, an IB A346 can do it and go nonstop to MAD from SJO with a good load and it's a 9,882 ft runway on an airport with an elevation of 3,021 ft. So while minimum 11,000 ft of runway would always be recommended for any possible safety margin (if you want a long runway, have a look at the 16,000 ft runway in DEN), longhaul services can be carried out from near 10,000 ft runways as well and thus, 11,000 ft isn't required per se.
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PanHAM
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:50 pm

In the 60s and 70s Malta was also an en-route stop for flights to Southern Africa, DC8s 7087s and VC10s operating through Luqa.

It is a really beautiful picture of this Island, when you look carefully you see a former airfield on the left side and the former RAF Station in the middle of the island, near Medina. There is an Air Museum located, most of the rest of this field is now an outlet centre. And I do hope they keep the old Buses for a couple more years.
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bennett123
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:54 pm

According to Action Stations Overseas 37 & 38 Sqn operated Shackleton MR2's from Luqa from 1953 to 1958. Detachments from the UK operated from there from 1952 onwards.

During Suez in 1956 large numbers of RAF Canberras and Valiants flew from Luqa 9,12,15,101,109 and 139 Sqn and 138,148,207 and 214 Sqn. This indicates that the airfield was already being used for detachments.
 
Knightsofmalta
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 6:09 pm

Quoting PanAm747 (Thread starter):
Is there a particular reason that this runway is so long? Or did the Maltese actually have the foresight to plan ahead (an alien concept my country!)?

It was two things. Foresight on the one hand. The runway was extended round about the time Boeing was completing work on the Boeing B. 747. On the other hand, the governemnt may have suffered from a slight case of having visions of grandeur and automatically assumed that once the B. 747 got airborne, people would be flocking to the island in masses, requiring for the runway to be extended accordingly.

As it turned out, it wasn't such a bad decision after all, even though B. 747 operations to Malta never really kicked off. However, together with the fact that the climate in Malta is very mild and air space is far from being congested, when the B. 747 actually did enter service most major european airlines sent their planes to Malta for pilot training. When I still lived in Malta as a kid, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Swissair regularly came to Malta for training.
 
bennett123
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 6:41 pm

Whilst you will not see many B747, do'nt forget your camera if you are in Malta.

When I was there in 2002, there was a good observation area, (behind glass).
Apart from Air Malta I saw the following Libyan Arab Airlines (B727/F28) Nomads (B727) Tuninter (ATR72) as well as a variety of more normal fare.

Across the runway is Safi where I saw several BAC111 and a C47.

Strangely enough the A310 that I saw at Gatwick on my return is the Airbus Tanker Demonstrator now (EC-HLA).
 
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Kukkudrill
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:57 pm

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 15):
When I was there in 2002, there was a good observation area, (behind glass).

There's an even better open-air observation area on the opposite side of the airport, right across from the passenger terminal -- the place from where these shots among many others were taken:

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Photo © Alan Cordina
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Charles Polidano


Unfortunately the BAC 1-11s were moved or broken up not long ago.

For more info about Malta International Airport you can consult http://www.flightlinemalta.com/
Make the most of the available light ... a lesson of photography that applies to life
 
A319XFW
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:11 pm

Doesn't LHT also have a maintenance base in Malta now?
I know they do A320 aircraft mx there (for LH and Air Malta), but do they also do larger aircraft?
 
bennett123
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:18 pm

When I was there, there was a gantry just outside the fence.

The locals seemed to use it, so I joined them.

Looking back it seems strange, there was was 15' in the air waving to the pilot's of taxying aircraft and airfield vehicles.

A shame about the BAC111's but the C47 might still be there.
 
FrancoBlanco
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:23 pm

I still find the caption of this pic misleading. There are many longer runways in Europe, e.g. MUC (2x 4000m), FRA, LHR, CDG, AMS all have runways in the 3600-4000 meters range.

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Gr8Circle
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:52 pm

Quoting Fedex (Reply 9):
I may be wrong, but I thought I remembered hearing NASA had something to do with the current length of the runway as a suitable emergency field for the shuttle. Has anyone else heard of this?

Won't the space shuttle require a much loooooooooonger runway to land?
 
Gr8Circle
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:54 pm

Just an observation and I must admit I'm not too familiar with the country.....

In the excellent image above, showing the beautiful island of Malta....it appears that the runway 14/32 is almost one-fifth of the length of the country itself....is this right or just an optical illusion???
 
KBGRbillT
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:33 pm

Quoting Gr8Circle (Reply 20):
Won't the space shuttle require a much loooooooooonger runway to land?

Many runways all over the world of similar length to Malta's, have been selected by NASA in the past as alternate emergency landing sites.
 
blueflyer
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:39 am

Quoting A319XFW (Reply 17):
Doesn't LHT also have a maintenance base in Malta now?
I know they do A320 aircraft mx there (for LH and Air Malta), but do they also do larger aircraft?

The maintenance base is a joint-venture LH/KM. They do C-checks and some mods for A320s and 737s.
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pilottim747
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:46 am

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 5):
11,600ft isn't actually really anything out of the normal for an airport. Heck, there is a small, uncontrolled, general aviation airport about 30 miles from where I live that just had a brand new 10,000ft runway built.

What uncontrolled GA airport builds a 10,000 ft runway? I dont buy it.

pilottim747
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mhodgson
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:57 am

Quoting Gr8Circle (Reply 21):
In the excellent image above, showing the beautiful island of Malta....it appears that the runway 14/32 is almost one-fifth of the length of the country itself....is this right or just an optical illusion???

It is right - I think Malta is 20km 'long' (may be wrong).
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GDB
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:20 am

Bennett123 has alluded to the real purpose of such a long runway, it's nothing to do with airliners.
Until 1978, Malta had a British military base, the last occupants based there were the Recon Canberras of 13 Sqn RAF.
But in previous decades it was busier, but always with regular detachments of aircraft passing through.

During WW2, the entire Island was awarded the George Cross, the highest British civillian award, comparable to the Victoria Cross for the military.
Due to the incredible bravery of the Island under very heavy German and Italian air attack, in trying to break this vital strategic base, also preventing vital supply convoys getting through to Malta, in that they came close to suceeding.

But, they failed, ships and aircraft based in Malta were to break the supply lines to Rommel's Afrika Corps, a big part in his defeat.
 
PanAm747
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:44 am

Quote:
Many runways all over the world of similar length to Malta's, have been selected by NASA in the past as alternate emergency landing sites.

Now that you mention it, I think I remember that Dakar, Senegal, and Mauritius were selected as space shuttle alternate landing sites.

Thanks to all for the great replies!
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kubus
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:34 am

Lower left corner is the closed Hal-Far airport. What about the what seems to be another runway above the long one, is that really a runway?

[Edited 2006-03-04 18:40:05]
 
GDB
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:37 am

Some stuff on the former RAF Luqa;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Luqa

The bottom part of this photo set has some movements at Luqa in the mid 1960's;
http://www.geocities.com/bergwen/rafpictures.html

A single pic;
http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/carmel_attard/569_luqa.htm
 
halls120
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 3:12 am

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 12):
There is an Air Museum located, most of the rest of this field is now an outlet centre.

If you are on the island, a visit to the museum would be well worth the time. It is small, but some excellent exhibits, and you get to see their restoration projects up close.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
scoljet
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:40 am

Salina, KS. which has very little commercial traffic (B1900's) has a runway that is 13,300'x200' !!!!!!
 
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Kukkudrill
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:39 am

Quoting GDB (Reply 26):
Bennett123 has alluded to the real purpose of such a long runway, it's nothing to do with airliners.
Until 1978, Malta had a British military base, the last occupants based there were the Recon Canberras of 13 Sqn RAF.
But in previous decades it was busier, but always with regular detachments of aircraft passing through.

Read reply 14. Runway 14-32 was extended to its current length in the mid-1970s by a government which was ideologically opposed to the UK military presence in Malta, and an agreement had already been reached for the UK military presence to end in 1979 (not 78). It would have made no sense to extend the runway for military purposes when the RAF was about to depart from Malta for good.
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Plane Holland
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:53 am

no overrunning the runway..
 
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breiz
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RE: Purpose Of Malta's Very Long Runways?

Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:05 am

A bit of additional information:

"Luqa airport is an old Air Force base and thus one of the longest domestic runways in commercial use in the world. The runway is so long because the heavy supply planes in the Second World War needed plenty of room to slow down." quoted from http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A408601

"In 1975 the runway at Luqa was a ‘short’ runway of some 7,800 feet,..." quote from http://john-dillon.co.uk/V-Force/xm645_malta.html

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