Airport Descriptions


#1

Does FlightAware offer facility descriptions for local airports, i.e. runway lengths, etc.?


#2

Yes.
Click on any airport identifier on any flight tracking page to get to the airport page, then click on “More KXXX info” found between the airport graph and the map.

Or type in the airport at the bottom of the left blue column and click on “View airport information”


#3

How about which runway is the active one?

eg Is the airport using the 9 or 27 runway right now?

Can we find that in FA?


#4

It’s not listed anywhere, but you can figure it out by looking at the direction for arriving and departing traffic on the map.


#5

You can also find out which runway is in use by calling the ATIS. Go to airnav.com/airports/ and enter the airport then scroll down to “Airport Communications”, then look for the phone number to the ATIS. Note: Some airports do not have an ATIS, so if you don’t see one, that airport doesn’t have one.


#6

You might be able to get a general idea of which runway is in use by looking at the METAR. Whatever runway is most aligned with the mind you give you a pretty good guess. Then again, if it’s uncontrolled there is no real “active runway”. A pilot can use whatever runway they want, traffic permitting.


#7

Not being a pilot, I find this intriguing. Aren’t there some wind direction constraints? I.E. I always thought that one had to land against the wind direction and take off into the wind. What are the facts about this?


#8

You land and takeoff into the wind. Most planes have a certain crosswind and headwind limitation.


#9

Generally this is true, but a pilot at an uncontrolled airport is permitted to land or depart with a tailwind if they judge that there is sufficient runway to allow it. There are several factors that determine which runway to use, including winds, obstacles and noise control. For example, there may be homes or a hill on one end of a 4000’ runway and pilots choose to depart in the other direction even with a 5 know tail wind.


#10

Also you may land with tailwind if it’s the only instrument approach available or is preferable to an approach into the wind (e.g., if the approach is overwater) and clouds are too low to permit circling.


#11

Don’t forget those days where it’s nice and calm (no wind).

Then either end of the runway can and will be used, just hopefully, not at the same time.

At uncontrolled airports, we do talk to each other on the radio giving “position reports” advising other pilots flying in the area our location relative to the runway.

In most cases, things work out orderly, but there are days where somebody just may go against the traffic flow and things get discombobled, no different then someone walking against the flow of traffic in a walkway. Everything eventually does sort itself out…

And it’s not required that one have a radio at MOST uncontrolled airports, so we always have to have our heads on a swivel looking for that “NORDO” (no radio traffic)

Some airports will request that planes land on a particular runway for noise abatement. This is an advisory, not a requirement as it’s pilots descretion on what runway to land on.

Some uncontrolled airports have intersecting runways, where more then one runway can be in use. See flightaware.com/resources/airport/KHEZ (Natchez MS) for an example. You can see by the picture how complex an uncontrolled airport can be.

Again we do our best to talk with each othe rin the air, and also to the person who may be monitoring the radio in the airport.

How we choose runway is truly dependent as Dbaker and CAFlier describes, and sometimes I will land on a particular runway that has me ending up closer to where I am going to park the airplane or pick up a passenger. So many variables, so many choices in selection, but first and foremost decision on runway selection for just about all pilots is safety first.

Hope this helps a little.

Allen


#12

Thanks, Allen. But that one scenario - intersecting runways, aircraft without radios (I hope there aren’t many of them around), and “calm wind” conditions --it’s a wonder there aren’t more conflicts!