Circular Runways - Pie in the Sky

Circular runways – is it pie in the sky

At first, it sounds like a recipe for disaster – a circular runway in which three planes can take off and land at the same time.

But, experts say the 'Indy Car circuit' runway could revolutionize air travel, cutting out crosswinds and making for safer, more efficient runway operations.

The Endless Runway project has proposed a plan to build a 3.5-kilometer-wide circular strip with banked sides around airports, with claims it would allow planes to fly in or out regardless of wind direction.

Circular Runway’s could revolutionize air travel, cutting out crosswinds and making for safer, more efficient runway operations, researchers say. The Endless Runway project has proposed a plan to build a 3.5-kilometer-wide circular strip with banked sides around airports

Not only would a circular runway make travel more time-efficient, but it also opens the possibility of reducing an airport’s environmental impact, as it would allow planes to burn less fuel.

And, it would be equal in length to three straight runways, with the ability to operate at the current workload of four.

‘Physical constraints on runway operations, like wake vortex separation minima and cross- and tailwind limits, make it hard to improve performance of conventional airport configurations further,’ the Endless Runway team explains.

Essentially, the concept ‘can generate a breakthrough in sustainable airport capacity by avoiding the physical constraints of conventional runways through shifting the lift-off and touchdown points of individual aircraft.’

Based on the Endless Runway design, a circular system would be divided into 18 runway segments – meaning that many access points.

Three planes could land and take off at once, as each would use a limited section of the circle.

Based on the Endless Runway design, a circular system would be divided into 18 runway segments – meaning that many access points.

Three planes could land and take off at once, as each would use a limited section of the circle.

According to the Endless Runway team, the system works independent of wind direction, unlike a straight runway.

Based on the Endless Runway design, a circular system would be divided into 18 runway segments – meaning that many access points. The project has envisioned three different landing scenarios: strong wind, low wind, and changing wind directions

This means that planes could take-off and land from any direction.

The project has envisioned three different landing scenarios: strong wind, low wind, and changing wind directions.

In the first situation, the aircraft would fly in to a touchdown point that is exactly headwind.

Low wind conditions would mean that there are no meteorological restrictions, making for shorter landing intervals and eliminating the need to space planes out according to wake turbulence categories.

Under changing winds, the team says the aircraft sequence can ‘gradually “move” with the wind direction.

Three planes could land and take off at once, as each would use a limited section of the circle.According to the Endless Runway team, it works independent of wind direction, unlike a straight runway. Planes could take-off and land from any direction

According to the Endless Runway team, the system works independent of wind direction, unlike a straight runway.

This means that planes could take-off and land from any direction.

‘Aircraft can take off and land at points of this circle to make certain that they have no crosswinds and only headwind,’

'The passengers will experience a slight turn similar to a turn in the air. Because of the centrifugal forces, the aircraft will automatically go slower, and go towards the center of the runway.’

But, it won’t feel like you’re on a rollercoaster, the researcher assured.

At first, it sounds like a recipe for disaster – a circular runway in which three planes can take off and land at the same time. But, it could one day offer a way to stay a step ahead of booming travel demands

The project has envisioned three different landing scenarios: strong wind, low wind, and changing wind directions.

In the first situation, the aircraft would fly in to a touchdown point that is exactly headwind.

Low wind conditions would mean that there are no meteorological restrictions, making for shorter landing intervals and eliminating the need to space planes out according to wake turbulence categories.

Under changing winds, the team says the aircraft sequence can ‘gradually “move” with the wind direction.’

In the 1990s, the US Navy tested the idea of implementing circular runways, using an automobile test track as an analog for their concept airport.

Tests documented by Popular Science in 1966 reveal the Navy conducted trials in 1964 and 1965 using an 8,400-foot-wide banked track.

And, while pilots at first said they felt like they were ‘flying into a hole,’ they soon became enthusiasts of the design.

Several successful landings and take-offs were made during the tests, with claims it would work for both civilian and military purposes.

But, the idea never took off. 

Despite the tests in the 1960s, a commercial circular runway has never been built, according to the BBC.

The Endless Runway project, funded by the European Commission, currently uses simulations to test the radical plan.

In the 1990s, the US Navy tested the idea of implementing circular runways, using an automobile test track as an analog for their concept airport

Despite its promise for efficiency, there has been little testing of this type of design.

The military conducted tests in the 1960s on circular runways, but a commercial circular runway has never been built, according to the BBC.

The Endless Runway project, funded by the European Commission, currently uses simulations to test the radical plan.

However you are unlikely to see a circular runway in England anytime soon. Take offs and Landings are strictly controlled. The noise regulations around airports are extremely precise some arrival procedures weave around to avoid overflying noise sensitive villages. This would not be feasible with a circular airport as aircraft would need to arrive from any direction dependent on the wind. So it would take up more space, have less capacity, be less safe and create more environmental impact.
 

Thursday Mar 23, 2017