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Circular Runways for Future Airports

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

How would you feel if an airport’s appearance were to change overnight? If the runways would change from being long and flat to circular shapes, beautifully surrounding the airport?

If you are a plane maniac like many, you would probably dismiss the thought. But it could become reality in the next few years.


Because of the research project funded by the EU in which aviation expert Henk Hesselink and his team at the Netherlands Aerospace Centre are working on.

The project is based on the sole idea of turning the classic, straight runways into circular ones, allowing for better functionality of the airport. This type of runway could handle the traffic of four normal ones and would have the length of three straight runways, allowing three planes to take off and land at the same time.

Some years ago, Hesselink thought of this idea after watching planes trying to land in times of fierce winds. Other than its functionality, the researchers also believe it could have social and environmental advantages.

‘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 centre of the runway,’ says Hesselink. ‘We can also design procedures to make certain the environment is experiencing less noise as we now the possibility to fly in from any direction and toward any direction, we can make the decision on where to fly and where to avoid flying,’

Hesselink also says that, besides the reducing of the noise, planes would be burning less fuel battling headwinds.

There are currently no plans for actually building such a runway, but one never knows what the future may bring.

The world is moving at such a rapid pace it is hard to keep track of all the projects and innovations happening worldwide.

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