Endless Runway Project: A Circular Solution

Fast Company: “Since 2012, Henk Hesselink and his team at the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) in the Netherlands have been working on a runway design that’s circular instead of straight. Their so-called Endless Runway Project … proposes a circular design that would enable planes to take off in the direction most advantageous for them.”

“Namely, the direction without any crosswinds … the circular runway system that Hesselink designed, with a diameter of about 2.2 miles and circumference of about 6.2 miles, can accommodate two planes landing simultaneously even when there are bad crosswinds. That’s because there are always two areas on the ring where the crosswinds will be aligned with the direction of takeoff. In good conditions, three planes can land and take off simultaneously.”

“To see how the design would hold up at a major airport, Hesselink and his team took the flight patterns from France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, which has four runways, and used a computer simulation to prove that the circular runway could handle the same number of departures and landings. It’s also more efficient in terms of runway space: Though the circle’s circumference is roughly the length of three standard runways, it’s able to handle the traffic capacity of four. And since landing airplanes wouldn’t have to fight strong crosswinds, airlines would save on fuel, too.”

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