Circular runways: Dutch scientist proposes new way for planes to takeoff, land
Dutch scientist Henk Hesselink believes that airports with circular runways are the future of aviation. His years long research shows that circular runways have many benefits, including that they are less noisy and more environmental friendly, he explained to NOS.
"The idea of the circular runway is that planes can land and take off at any point in the circle", Hesselink said to NOS. This means that difficult maneuvers in harsh weather conditions, such as crosswinds, will be unnecessary - pilots can land in whatever direction is most favorable weather wise. A circular runway needs a minimum diameter of 3.5 kilometers, with the airport in the middle, according to the scientist.
The circular runway is also more environmentally friendly, because planes would have to circle the airport less and thereby use less fuel. "You can fly right at the airport. If you come from Paris, you often have to fly around Schiphol. With a circular runway you can land at any point, making the route to the runway shorter as well as the taxi time." he said to the broadcaster.
And noise pollution can also be limited, or spread out more evenly with the circular runway. "Because you can take off or land at any point of the runway, it is possible - under normal weather conditions - to circumvent some residential areas. The noise can be distributed in a different way."
The European Commission helped fun this research project, called The Endless Runway, on which Hesselink and five European institutes worked.
In the 60's the United States shortly experimented with landing on a circular runway, though the project never really took off. Hesselink understands why this happened. "At the time the technology wasn't far enough yet. It was only possible to fly by sight and on your own feelings. Today there is so much equipment on board and on the ground that it can now be carried out."
Hesselink realizes that it will still be several years of testing before circular runways can be implemented, and that existing airports will not be converted because of the expense. His hope is that new airports will be built based on this model.