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NUMBERS and LETTERS on RUNWAY? explained by "CAPTAIN" Joe



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Dear friends and followers, welcome back to my channel. Today's question is a topic which we need to cover before

we get started with the ILS explanation videos - what is the meaning behind the numbers and the letters on the runway?

Make sure to watch this video until the end 'cause this is a very important topic. So let's get started!

I'm sure many of you have seen my approach and landing videos here on YouTube and you might have wondered

what is that number and the letter you see on the runway just prior touchdown? So let's first talk about the number.

Okay we're going to have to cover some basic navigation first.

As we look at our Planet Earth we have the geometric north and south pole in each hemisphere

marking the top and the bottom of the planet, but there is no instrument besides GPS which could guide us

towards these poles. But the planet has its own magnetic field surrounding the Earth,

creating the magnetic north and south pole which are slightly off from the geometric poles.

Now, you've all seen a compass and you know that the needle

always points towards magnetic north. Now, let's look at this runway here. You can see the numbers 08.

Now let's imagine you could draw a line all the way from the magnetic north pole down until it crosses the runway centerline.

You would see that the two lines create an opening angle of 80 degrees,

meaning the runway centerline is 80 degrees relative to the magnetic north pole.

So why are there only the numbers 0 and 8 on the runway? Like did they run out of paint or what?

No, there are two reasons for that.

Now let's say the magnetic heading of the runway would be zero eight four then it would be rounded off to the nearest

tenth so in our case zero eight zero

Leaving out the last zero you have runway zero eight

But if you would name the runway zero eight Zero

could lead to

misinterpretation as given headings are spelled the same way like fly heading one two zero for example

Now as you sit in your plane on the runway, in this example runway zero five in Madera

You know that your plane nose is pointing zero five zero degrees so heading north east and your plane's

tail is pointing plus

180 degrees into the opposite direction so the reciprocal runway should be

yes Runway two three

Ok, let's fly into Naples, Italy. As you can see on the approach chart the final runway course of magnetic heading reads

two three six so that would mean that if you would round off to the nearest tenth that will give us

runway two four. Okay another example

Here we have magnetic heading of three three one

So that would give us round it off with the heading of three three zero or

runway three three and by the way

don't ever say runway thirty-three the numbers are always spelt separately. Okay

one more approach. Let's fly into Frankfurt, Germany. Now the final runway course is two four eight so that would give us

runway two five but now you see this letter L. So what Is that good for. Now as

Frankfurt has three parallel runways each one of them has an identifier letter

So in this video, we are approaching runway two five left so the L

is for left, the middle

one has a C for runway two five center and the third as an R for runway two five right

So as you come into approach the ATC controller will say Speedbird one two five heavy turn left heading two one zero

to intercept the ILS approach runway

two five left or any other runway so that you know which runway to fly to

Same with the tower controller. Here you can hear the LAX tower controller giving a landing clearance to a Fedex

triple 7 and he clearly states which runway he is cleared to land on - Fedex thirty-seven forty-five heavy wind

two six zero at five, runway two five left, cleared to land

Cleared to land two five left, thirty-seven forty-five. Now as

we are in Los Angeles, LAX has four parallel runways so how do you identify

four runways? As you can see in this chart here all four runways have the same magnetic

inbound course of two five one which would mean runway two five. But

LAX had to name the two northern runways two for left and right

despite the magnetic runway heading and the southern runways two five left and right to reduce the risk of

misinterpretation during radio communication

Obviously the same with the reciprocal runways zero six left and right and zero seven left and right

What about magnetic variation? Now over the course of time the magnetic poles slowly drift

meaning as the magnetic pole moves, it also

changes the magnetic heading of the runway. Now the changes are only minor but if you look at this old chart from

2009 showing runway zero five and two three at London Stansted and you look at today's approach

chart you can see that Stansted had to change all the runway markings, taxi signs, charts etc

so that the newer runway zero four and two two as you can see in this video. I would say bad luck for London Stansted

So that was it for today. I hope you enjoyed the short video about the runway numbers and letters and make sure to fly-by

my Instagram account, the link is in the description below and hit the subscribe button so you

won't miss out future technical videos. All the best see you next Thursday. Your Captain Joe