Aerospace tests show circle designs would increase capacity, allow for simultaneous landings and take-offs and remove the risk of crosswinds.
Circular runways could revolutionise commercial aviation while increasing the capacity of airports by 2050, according to a leading Dutch scientist.
Built as a 2.2mile-wide circle nearly seven miles in circumference around an airport, 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).
Without crosswind holding up flights and causing delays, planes would be able to land and take off more frequently, increasing airport capacity.
Being able to land from any direction also means planes are not required to fly over residential areas as often, lowering noise pollution.
Even when airports are in heavily-populated areas, the flights can be spread out over a greater number of flight paths so homes around the airfield would ‘share’ the noise between them rather than the same households having to put up with all of the noise.
The endless runway design has a slight incline and curve as it surrounds the entire airport, similar to high-speed car test tracks.
‘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.
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 any more 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.
News Source: Daily Mail