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How dangerous is a single runway, major airport?

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How dangerous is a single runway, major airport?

Old 18th Dec 2020, 10:32
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How dangerous is a single runway, major airport?

This is in connection with Prague’ s desire to build a new parallel runway to the main one with trajectory 6/24. Actually it has a 2nd runway on trajectory 12/30, which it would close.
Its proponents are now pushing the safety aspect, that a single runway airport is dangerous in the event of an emergency? My question is, how dangerous? Safety is never 100% of course. I cannot recall an incident at a comparable European airport with a single runway which was blamed on the lack of a 2nd runway But I could well be wrong.

All thoughts and education appreciated!
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 11:16
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It isn't. Mutliple runways are primarly used to increase capacity, not for the odd case every 50 years when the only runway is blocked and there is an aircraft that has an emergency. Prague is situated in the center of Europe with tons of airports around, where aircraft can easily and safely divert, should the single runway be closed.

Worth mentioning is that even if you have 2 or 3 runways, if a runway becomes closed due to emergency (let's say an aircraft on fire), there would likely be no landings on the other runway(s) due to insufficient fire and rescue coverage.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 12:07
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Thank you! This is what I supposed, but it's great to have it confirmed by people who know what they are talking about. If anyone else would like to add anything it would be appreciated, even if only to support the view above.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 13:04
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Gatwick's second runway, built in the 1980s, is an exception. It cannot be used to increase capacity (at present!) because it is too close to the original southern runway for simultaneous use, but can be brought into to use during periods of maintenance or an incident blocking 26L/08R.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 13:36
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There can be some safety arguments made, especially with separating traffic- better staggering arrivals and departures for example, but a second, parallel, runway could also increase the threats of runway incursions with more cross runway taxis. Capacity and redundancy are the main drivers, but planners always like to list safety as a factor as it sounds better than "to make more money and have more flights"
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 14:27
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Excellent, thank you!
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 14:53
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Look at Kai Tak when it was open.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 15:22
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Thanks. I am actually British but living in Prague; but my Czech friends may well be interested to read it
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 17:03
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The Royal Air Force, I believe relies on a single runway field in UK for its transport fleet. Their experts will, I imagine, have carried out a feasibility study.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 17:12
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RHP,

Put simply, it is not dangerous in an way, only some different procedures required to maintain safety.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 17:33
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Originally Posted by JENKINS View Post
The Royal Air Force, I believe relies on a single runway field in UK for its transport fleet. Their experts will, I imagine, have carried out a feasibility study.
Brize is hardly a major airport !

....but in times of conflict a single unexpected bomb on the runway could ground the entire tanker and transport fleet. Brilliant.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 17:58
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Witness my Welsh cynicism, BA/BY.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 18:17
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Single runway major airports are no more "dangerous" than multi-runway airports as long as procedures are adhered to. The main reasons for having more than one runway is capacity and business continuity, although how much capacity is gained will depend on the separation between the runways and their alignment. For example if used in segregated mode (one for departures, one for arrivals) and aircraft need to cross one runway to/from parking areas then this will affect capacity on the runway to be crossed.

Gatwick's northern runway was constructed purely for business continuity, so that if the main runway was closed for planned maintenance or blocked due to an unplanned disabled aircraft then they could continue to operate although not to the same capacity level as the main runway. The depletion of Fire Service cover in the event of an aircraft emergency or accident can delay the re-start of operations but at very busy airports with two runways or more which have more than one fire station there is the option to provided the appropriate level of fire cover at both so when one responds to the incident the other has the cover available allowing operations to re-start very quickly, although this would depend on the seriousness of the incident.



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Old 18th Dec 2020, 18:50
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and aircraft need to cross one runway to/from parking areas then this will affect capacity on the runway to be crossed.
Manchester being one such example, where all aircraft using the southern runway have to cross the northern runway.





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Old 18th Dec 2020, 19:34
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One aspect that's advantageous when you've got multiple non intersecting runways is when you have some sort of destructive emergency on departure, say uncontained engine failure. Having left a trail of parts over the departure runway you can of course simply reland on the other runway. Now if it's truly a single runway airport, of course you can get it all picked up (once the hot parts are cool enough) and then you can land back. But there is a case if you've GOT to reland ASAP then multi runways are better.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 20:20
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Originally Posted by Cough View Post
One aspect that's advantageous when you've got multiple non intersecting runways is when you have some sort of destructive emergency on departure, say uncontained engine failure. Having left a trail of parts over the departure runway you can of course simply reland on the other runway. Now if it's truly a single runway airport, of course you can get it all picked up (once the hot parts are cool enough) and then you can land back. But there is a case if you've GOT to reland ASAP then multi runways are better.
True but not significantly. Any parts trail would likely be quite far down the runway, commencing close to the point at which V1 was achieved on departure; otherwise I would have stopped. Personally I wouldn’t be at all discouraged from landing back on that runway if my aircraft was crippled, particularly if it was a time critical scenario. I would be confident of encountering that debris at a fairly low speed on landing.

It’s certainly the case that “safety” is becoming an overused reason for essentially commercial decisions. Conversely “safety” is conveniently forgotten when it obstructs commercial gain.

Weak regulation and oversight has shockingly emboldened the aviation industry.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 20:39
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Originally Posted by Cough View Post
One aspect that's advantageous when you've got multiple non intersecting runways is when you have some sort of destructive emergency on departure, say uncontained engine failure. Having left a trail of parts over the departure runway you can of course simply reland on the other runway. Now if it's truly a single runway airport, of course you can get it all picked up (once the hot parts are cool enough) and then you can land back. But there is a case if you've GOT to reland ASAP then multi runways are better.
It happened at Gatwick about 1982. A Northwest 747 was shedding turbine blades on take-off. IIRC it diverted to Heathrow and it took quite a while to pick up all the debris. I think they did a "FOD Plod".
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 22:33
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Originally Posted by Cough View Post
once the hot parts are cool enough
Which could take hours ...
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 09:46
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Originally Posted by spekesoftly View Post
Gatwick's second runway, built in the 1980s, is an exception. It cannot be used to increase capacity (at present!) because it is too close to the original southern runway for simultaneous use, but can be brought into to use during periods of maintenance or an incident blocking 26L/08R.

I have no experience with Gatwick however I bet The second runway there can be used to increase capacity. At such airport where parallel rwys are too close to allow for simultaneous approaches, One is used for departure and other for arrivals. This increases capacity because it allows for one aircraft to line up while the other is still on approach. As the landing aircraft touches down, the departing aircraft can commence takeoff.
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 10:24
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LGW has , or at least used to have, the most efficient single-runway ops I have experienced.

Rapid Exits placed so a holding aircraft is released the moment the landing aircraft is clear.
Line up after the landing, gets you in position.
The next traffic is at 3? miles, and cleared to land as the departing rotates. The lander is around 200'.

Not so at MAN, where traffic didn't justify a 2nd runway. I don't think they ever came close to processing at half the rate of LGW.

No blame to ATC for the flow rates...
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