Could CIRCULAR runways take off? Aerospace tests show circle designs would increase capacity

Circular runways could revolutionise commercial aviation while increasing the capacity of airports by 2050, according to a leading Dutch scientist.   

Built as a 2.2 mile wide circle around an airport terminal, the runway would allow for a high volume of traffic as several takeoffs and landings could take place simultaneously. 

The design is safer than conventional airports because aircraft can avoid dangerous crosswinds by landing in any direction, according to Henk Hesselink, an engineer at Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR). 

Circular runways could revolutionise commercial aviation while increasing the capacity of airports by 2050, according to a leading Dutch scientist

Circular runways could revolutionise commercial aviation while increasing the capacity of airports by 2050, according to a leading Dutch scientist

Circular runways could revolutionise commercial aviation while increasing the capacity of airports by 2050, according to a leading Dutch scientist

Built as a 2.2 mile wide circle around an airport terminal, the runway would allow for a high volume of traffic as several takeoffs and landings could take place simultaneously

Built as a 2.2 mile wide circle around an airport terminal, the runway would allow for a high volume of traffic as several takeoffs and landings could take place simultaneously

Built as a 2.2 mile wide circle around an airport terminal, the runway would allow for a high volume of traffic as several takeoffs and landings could take place simultaneously

The landing aircraft can also be routed away from residential areas more easily to reduce noise pollution because they are not dependent on a standard approach path.

But if it is not possible to design routes that avoid large communities, the flights can be spread out over different flight paths. 

It would mean that the houses around the airfield will experience a similar level of noise rather than the same households having to put up with all of the planes flying over their house.  

The endless runway design has a slight incline and curve as it surrounds the entire airport.

‘We need to rethink the way we are dealing with airports, with capacity, with the environment,’ Hesselink told Mashable

‘We are looking for a solution where aircraft can take off and land under any weather conditions.’ 

A singular circular runway could handle the traffic of four conventional runways and takes up less space, according to Hesselink. 

The design is safer than conventional airports because aircraft can avoid dangerous crosswinds by landing in any direction, according to Henk Hesselink, an engineer at Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR)

The design is safer than conventional airports because aircraft can avoid dangerous crosswinds by landing in any direction, according to Henk Hesselink, an engineer at Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR)

The design is safer than conventional airports because aircraft can avoid dangerous crosswinds by landing in any direction, according to Henk Hesselink, an engineer at Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR)

The landing aircraft can also be routed away from residential areas to reduce noise pollution because they are not dependent on a standard approach path

The landing aircraft can also be routed away from residential areas to reduce noise pollution because they are not dependent on a standard approach path

The landing aircraft can also be routed away from residential areas to reduce noise pollution because they are not dependent on a standard approach path

There have already been some trials on a circular track with fighter pilots who have landed there.

‘These pilots reported in the beginning it was a bit strange but after two or three trials they reported it is very well possible,’ Hesselink added.   

The radical circular runway is part of an effort to increase capacity at airports amid increasing levels of traffic. Scientists believe mobility will be stressed in the coming decades and new technology will be necessary. 

‘We can keep on optimizing the system, but at a certain moment, small steps don’t work anymore and we really need a new idea to cope with the anticipated traffic,’ said Hesselink.

The circular design is part of ‘The Endless Runway‘ project, led by a team of Dutch scientists from the NLR.  

The work has been carried with partners in The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Poland.   

Link hienalouca.com

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