Back to Squawk list

Will circular runways ever take off?

Circular runways. Apparently they're serious. They've actually done some testing in the simulator. ( Mehr...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Ben Bagnall 8
Excuse me, Someone has to say this. It's a stupid idea.
honza nl 0
The whole idea of flying once also was said to be a stupid idea....
mike SUT 8
I'd like to see the scenario where you blow an engine just at V1 and try keep it on the runway, either way you are going to be in a fight for your life until you get airborne.
Also...given horse track theory differences between US and other countries, does that mean we in the US will go round the circle anti-clockwise while other parts of the world will go round clockwise? What effect will the Coriolis effect have on the direction between the southern hemisphere and the northern? It causes toilets to flush in opposite directions. :-)
bdarnell 15
At least you'd never have to worry about a rejected TO. You could just go around again.
Jd Young 4
Nascar for airplanes!
sparkie624 2
Look at the Bright Side...You will never run out of Runway... The Downside, Just imagine the side loads on the landing gear.... And approaches... Can truly work on the Hub and Spoke system... No more having to fly the pattern... Just cleared straight in.... LOL...
Bruce Horwitz 2
If the runways are properly banked the side loads are minimized... at least at the moment of landing. You would want to make the runway wide enough to let the plane "spiral" down to the level (inside) portion as it slows.
mike SUT 6
and round and round and round again....LOL
Matthew Fox 4
And around and around until you're out of fuel! "Look kids, Parliament...Big Ben." LOL
mister wallace 11
Is it 1st April already?
sparkie624 1
That was my first thought!
indy2001 5
I don't see that this is much of a solution to current airport congestion. There isn't nearly enough room around major airports like JFK, ORD, EWR, LHR, LAX, SFO, CDG, LGA, etc, etc, etc. Even if neighborhoods were demolished and/or additional land dredged up, these critical airports would be out of commission for years while they were remodeled. If current airports are not good candidates for circular renovation, then new ones would be needed, at tremendous cost. Even a circular airport would require large amounts of land and would therefore be built far from city centers (think DFW or DEN). But at those distances land is cheap enough to build new airports with plenty of traditional straight runways, including enough crosswind runways to mitigate the raison d'etre for a circular airport.

A second problem arises when you think about pilot proficiency. Even if a few circular airports are built, a large number of traditional airports would remain. This would require that pilots learn different techniques for different runway shapes. And if they only operate on circular runways a small percentage of the time, pilots' skills would become dulled. And I suspect their skills would need to be sharper than usual for such circular operations. Software might help, but I still want flesh-and-blood at the controls when the rubber is meeting, or leaving, the runway.

Finally, I don't like the idea of messing with the lift vector at the most critical times. At takeoff and landing you want the lift vector to be pointing straight up so that it at least cancels the downward aircraft weight vector. But a banked circular runway would tilt that lift vector inward, leaving only a component of the total lift to cancel the weight (which doesn't change in magnitude or direction). This would mean the takeoff and landing speeds would need to be increased to make up for that missing vertical lift. And increased speed likely means increased runway banking.

Safety margins are also related to the lift vector. Landing on a banked runway would require that the aircraft be similarly banked. But the stall speed increases as the angle of bank increases. Typically pilots are limited to 15 degrees of bank within 1000 - 1500 ft above ground level for that reason. The actual banking of the runway has much to do with this, of course, but I haven't heard any mention of how much banking would be required. The animation certainly shows at least 15 degrees.

It's great to think outside the box, so to speak. And maybe there would be advantages to building some circular airports. But sometimes there are good reasons for why things are done the way they are done.
David Sims 3
So what happens if the plane runs off the upper side of the banked runway?
Scott Lee 4
Watch the opening credits for Speed Racer.
joel wiley 4
No. Runways don't take off.
zennermd 3
If you use a large enough engine it might ;)
Supercool Marmol 2
don't forget the size of the wing
zennermd 2
I was thinking more like a Frisbee. If we are able to spin it fast enough, we should be able to generate enough lift to not need a wing.
Reuben Smith 1
Magnus effect
zennermd 1
Mike Skrzecz 2
This concept was evaluated in the 60's at the now-closed General Motors proving ground in Mesa, AZ. The proving ground had a two mile diameter banked circular track. The Navy led the program the following aircraft were used for testing: C-54, A-4, T-28 and an A-1. The concept worked but it never went anywhere beyond this testing. See Air & Space Magazine April/May 2004 issue.
Mario Brumini 2
I think not easy, with several tons the inertial force to the external at 300Kmh (example) for tyres is not so easy..
Matthew Fox 1
Not to mention the force exerted on the MLG on the inside of the turn.
Jim Nasby 2
Next idea: a treadmill for a runway! 😜
Paul Robbins 2
icy rubbery and wet runways will make landings fun!
sparkie624 1
Look on the Bright Side... You will never run off the end of the Runway :) ! Now the sides... That may be a different story!
Jason Findlay 2
This is certainly a thought-provoking idea, but I think that scalable, commercial VTOL aircraft will come into play before we make the switch to circular runways.
Wayne Hubbs 2
No runway will be to short, but you might be going downwind before you rotate.
Claudia Santos 1
Folks, I dont see that idea taking off. I understand and praise his effort associated to many advantages linked to a very logical package of benefits, but...the global airfield and flying system is a worldwide issue combined with multibillion dollar structures also multitask training personel to deploy such idea. I dont see it happening. The benefits dont pay the means. Brazil on line.
patrick baker 1
so many new ways here to screw up a landing. I do like lessoning crosswind landings whenever possible. North Perry Airport , in the fort Lauderdale area , was a wagon wheel shaped facility, having if I remember at least four runways bisecting a circle. Never a crosswind there. This idea , for commercial operations, would be very wide and have a very large circumference. I don't know how very those measures would be.
Nige Lites 1
Some of this does sound a bit contradictory.

If the intention is avoiding crosswind then at any given time there will be a 'sweet spot' to touch down without any sideways drift, presumably that's where everyone would want to land.
As prevailing wind would shift during the day, or seasonally, but it may not do so evenly over any given period, so there would probably be a few dominant preferred directions.

If the intention is to maximise Runway use, 3 simultaneous takeoff or landing was mentioned, that suggests the circumference being divided into 3 Sectors 120deg apart, so now 'somebody' is going to get a crosswind, or even a tailwind.

'Sharing the Pain'. At an established Airport the flightpaths are clearly defined, property affected may be cheaper where disturbance is heaviest, it may not be tolerated or accepted by those living there but it is known about, so you pay your money and take your choice.
If the flightpaths become more varied many more properties could be affected sometimes, at any time. The area of uncertainty all around the airport could drive down property prices and elicit greater complaint and protest from those affected.

At an established Airport there are established procedures for Arrival and Departure, based at least in part on the available runway directions. Infinitely variable or even just more possible defined runway directions could result in many more procedures to be considered and briefed, and a much more flexible approach to ATC and traffic management. I'm sure that this is possible with ground based processing power and electronic flight bags, but for sure the Controllers and Pilots will have to be especially on the ball with more variables to consider for every flight in and out.

One thing not mentioned; I wonder if the Banked Runway might in some way deflect the noise coming from within the Airport such that the impact of the general hubbub of engines starting, aircraft movements and ground traffic would be reduced for the surrounding areas.

This revolutionary application of blue sky thinking appears to have resources, expertise and funding to address and consider all aspects and implications of the idea. maybe I'm missing some things here, or maybe they could not be fully explained in the brief video report.

As thought provoking as this concept is I suspect the biggest challenge to overcome will be finding a suitably located piece of real estate and someone willing to fund the first one.
James Mering 1
If you land into the wind at touchdown, as you turned the wind would add to the centrifugal force pushing toward the center. Would this be a problem?
mike SUT 1
Wonder how many planes will accidentally land on Nascar tracks mistaking them for airports. Of course, the fans will still be there for the crashes and the beer.
sparkie624 1
I am waiting for them to add a pit stop.... Just image the crew... Off load 400 passengers, Fuel Up, move all the baggage and out of the Pitts in under 60 seconds! Going to add a new definition to brake over heating!
Jamil Cadogan 1
Intriguing, to say the least. Could be conceivably trialed on the smaller airports, but the question remains: What major airspace airport in the world (what we call our Class Bravos here in the US) would invest in it?
Dale Martell 1
And if the runway is not dry, ice snow for instance.
Sandy Sandmire 1
Sounds to me like a crazy idea!!
Richard Orgill 1
Might (Capital letters) work with Heavy Haulers but not so sure I would trust the GA community.
Interesting concept.
dbkoob 1
This was posted yesterday please merge
Phillip Lamm 1
There's far more to consider beyond simple feasibility testing. How do you define a traffic pattern over a circular runway? How can you assure a departure direction, especially with varying take off weights and wind speeds? Would the bank angle of the runway be an increasing incline to facilite varying aircraft V-speeds? If so, how safe is it for slower aircraft to approach/depart over the outer edge of the runway? Are simulataneous operations even possible? Can taxiways be routed from outside the circumference? There are many more operational guidelines that need to be addressed that would likely overtake any proposed benefit.
Tony Perez 3
"Fly runway heading..." will no longer be a simple instruction.
Pat Reed 1
Sounds like those traffic engineers and their damn roundabouts. Stuck in the middle again.
Isaac Vogelzang 0
How could you land 3 planes on the same runway at the same time? The video says the runway is only 3.5 km circumference, and that is like 2.5 miles. Airplanes could possibly land on each other in that circumstance. What if there is an emergency landing and the pilot has no brakes or steering? Then the plane could verge off the runway and collide with other planes. I also think that it would be very difficult to touch a plane down on a sloped runway.
Nige Lites 3
3.5km was mentioned as the Diameter = about 11Km Circumference
Wayne Hubbs 0
Now we can fly low over all houses, the public will now come crawling out of the wood work.
Matt LaMay 0
This is a feelgood liberal propaganda piece. Completely and utterly impractical under any less than perfect condition.
Jim Nasby 1
There's no reason to bring politics into this.
Marc Arnold -2
Brilliant. Makes all the sense in the world. I hope the idea gains traction. Combined with flight idle RNP STARs, this would make arriving aircraft MUCH quieter. I'm all for it!

Only question is, should it be left turns or right?
For the UK left ofcourse, the rest of the normal world it will be right !!!
Matt LaMay 1
CYWG 172000Z 30015G25KT 1/4SM R36/1500FT/D +SN BLSN BKN001 OVC008 M05/M08 A2919 REFZRA WS RWY36 RMK SF5NS3 SLP134

Have fun with your circular runway that makes all the sense in the world.
Steven Tengram 0
Its like NASCAR go fast and turn left, put the forign aircraft in the wall
Ralph Wigzell 0
This may be of interest to the Flat Earth Society.


Haben Sie kein Konto? Jetzt (kostenlos) registrieren für kundenspezifische Funktionen, Flugbenachrichtigungen und vieles mehr!