Pulling power: Cork runway renamed as Earth’s poles shift

Magnetic field requires airports’ runway numbers to change every 50 years

Cork Airport: Runway 17/35 is now Runway 16/34, in line with shifts in Earth’s magnetic poles

Cork Airport: Runway 17/35 is now Runway 16/34, in line with shifts in Earth’s magnetic poles

 

Cork Airport has completed the renaming of its main runway in line with natural shifts in Earth’s magnetic poles. The 2.1km strip, which was designated Runway 17/35 in 1961, is now Runway 16/34.

The two numbers in each designator refer to the directions that either end of a runway faces: on a compass Runway 16/34 faces 160 degrees at one end and 340 degrees at the other. This information is crucial for pilots during take-off, landing and taxiing, according to Con Dooney, the airport’s operations and safety manager.

The renumbering was completed early on Thursday, before Cork Airport’s first wave of departing flights. “Work on the actual repainting of the runway numbers started as soon as the final flight landed last night, to be finished in time for the first departure this morning at 6am,” Mr Dooney said.

Nathan Wall, the airport’s safety lead, said the project was set in motion two years ago. “The repainting of runway numbers is the final step in the process, which has also included the updating of pilot charts and airport directories, along with briefings to air-traffic controllers, our airside-management unit and colleagues in airport operations.”

The slight shifts in the positions of Earth’s magnetic poles require airport runways to be redesignated approximately every 50 years; Cork Airport’s next change is due in 2068.