Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Freeing up Runways, Again

In a blog post last month, I wrote about the probability that important European runways will be oversaturated in the future. In the March, 2009, edition of Aerospace America, Philip Butterworth-Hayes makes the same point in his article "Running out of runways".

continent’s air transport infrastructure,
Europe will find that its busiest airports
and airways will be saturated by 2030—
effectively capping the growth plans of
European airlines and the demand for
new aircraft.

In a recent study called Challenges
to Growth, the Brussels-based air traffic
management agency Eurocontrol predicts
that annual flights within Europe
will rise from 10 million today to 20.4
million by 2030. Even if all the current
airport capacity development strategies
proceed as planned, these figures still
mean there will be 2.3 million flights a
year (nearly 10% of the total) for which
there will be no room in Europe.

The point I made in my previous post and which I reiterate here is the need to utilize existing runways for the one purpose that is absolutely essential: the take off and landing of large, long distance flights. VTOL craft should be used for all shorter haul, regional flights that carry less than 100 passengers and travel less than 100 miles (1610 km), and for all smaller general aviation planes. VTOL craft will need only vertipads for landing, which can be at airports, but also can be in many other, more convenient, locations. The large Boeing and Airbus airplanes of current and future designs will have the runways to themselves, and this will relieve the pressure to build more runways, saving the substantial sums of money that are required.