Circular Runways

Henk Hesselink is a dutch scientist believes that airports with circular runways are the future of aviation. His years long analysis shows that circular runways have several advantages, together with that they’re less noisy and a lot of environmental friendly.

The idea of the circular runway is that planes will land and take off at any point within the circle. This means that tough maneuvers in harsh weather conditions, like crosswinds, are unnecessary – pilots will land in whatever direction is most favorable weather wise. According to the scientist, circular runway needs a minimum diameter of 3.5 kilometers, with the airport in the middle.

Circular Runway Top view

Circular Runways

The circular runway is also more environmentally friendly, because planes would have to circle the runway less and thereby use less fuel. You will fly right at the runway. If you return from Paris, you frequently have to fly around Schiphol. With a circular runway you can land at any point, creating the route to the runway shorter moreover as the taxi time.

And noise pollution can even be restricted, or spread out more evenly with the circular runway. Because you’ll be able to take off or land at any point of the runway, it’s possible – under normal weather conditions – to avoid some residential areas. The noise may be distributed in a completely different way.

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The aviation sector presently doubles in size every 15 years. how can we facilitate that growth whereas at the same time improving safety and security and reducing environmental impact? and how will we tend to expand airport capacity without harmful effects on the survival of the human environment? NLR has been exploring these problems for many years, with a spotlight on the future. As a part of these efforts, NLR has been involved in this project. The Circular Runway project has been accomplished by NLR, DLR (Germany), ONERA (France), INTA (Spain) and ILOT (Poland), and has received funding through the EU FP7.

In the 60’s the united states shortly experimented with landing on a circular runway, though the project never extremely took off. Hesselink understands why this happened. At that time the technology wasn’t far enough yet. It was only possible to fly by sight and on your own feelings. Nowadays there’s so much equipment on board and on the ground that it can now be carried out.

Hesselink realizes that it’ll still be many years of testing before circular runways will be implemented, and that existing airports will not be converted due to the expense. His hope is that new airports are designed based on this model.


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