Which UK commercial airport has the longest active runway? | Daily News Byte


The United Kingdom has been home to some long runways over the years. The longest of these, according to UK Airfields, was the 4,389-metre (14,400 ft) grass strip which served RAF Wittering/Collyweston in the 1940s and 50s. Let’s look at the longest active strips serving commercial airports in the country today.

Simple video of the day

1/5 London Heathrow

As the largest and busiest passenger hub in the UK, it seems only fitting that London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has two of the longest active commercial runways in the country. These runways run parallel to each other on an east-west bearing and the longest active runway is 09L/27R, which is 3,902 meters (12,802 ft) in length.

As mentioned above, Heathrow’s runway 09R/27L is also on the long side and spans an impressive 3,660 meters (12,008 feet). These strips have allowed it to handle aircraft such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 747 and Concorde.

2/5 London Gatwick

Located south of the British capital, London Gatwick Airport (LGW) has the next longest runway of any UK-based commercial facility. Technically, the airport has two runways, the longest being 08R/26L, which is 3,316 meters (10,879 feet).

London Gatwick Airport

Meanwhile, the 08L/26R clocks in at 2,565 meters (8,415 feet) long. However, as the photograph above shows, the strips are too close together to work together. As such, the short runway comes into operation only when the long runway is out of use. Otherwise, it currently sees the service as a taxiway only.

3/5 Birmingham

Just outside of London, Birmingham Airport (BHX) is the main hub for the Midlands region of the UK. The facility is a single-runway affair, with an asphalt strip designated as 15/33 stretching for 3,052 meters (10.013 ft).

This runway orientation is unusual among UK airports, as it does not run east to west. This is typical for country runways as the prevailing winds are from the west. However, because Birmingham’s runway is closer to the north-south direction, it is more prone to crosswind conditions. You can take a look at an example of such a touchdown above.

4/5 Manchester

Moving north, Manchester Airport (MAN) is the only facility in the UK apart from Heathrow to have two runways that are over 3,000 meters in length. Both these strips close BHX in terms of their length, 3,048 meters / 10,000 feet (05L/23R) and 3,050 meters / 10,007 feet (05R/23L).

Manchester Airport

Photo: Jack Hardiman | Simple Flying

While these landing strips have the same orientation, you can see in the photograph above that they are not directly adjacent to each other. Instead, they are somewhat stalled, with an area of ​​overlap at the end of Runway 05L.

5/5 London Stansted

Back to the south, the length of the single runway at London Stansted Airport (STN) fits neatly between the two strips available at Manchester. Indeed, the grooved asphalt runway with headings 04/22 is 3,049 meters (10,003 ft) long. This has allowed it to handle aircraft as large as the Airbus A380 on certain occasions.

Stansted Airport’s 3,049-metre runway is exactly the same length as Campbelltown Airport (CAL). The facility has the longest runway in Scotland due to its previous use as a military base known as RAF Machrihanish. However, the on-site commercial facility uses only 1,750 meters (5,741 ft).

Source: UK Airfields


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