Ireland West Airport Knock are to change the numbers assigned to its runway’s for the first time in over 30 years as a result of changes in the Earth’s magnetic poles.
The designator changes, which will come into effect this month, and which are expected to last for the next half century, will ensure the airport remains safety compliant and licensed by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). The different runway designator numbers are vital for pilots for take-off, landing and taxiing.
Each airport runway is assigned a runway designator number. The runway designator is made up of a two digit number displayed at each side of the runway, which shows its magnetic heading nearest the full 10 degrees. For the last thirty years this has been 085 and 265 degrees, which has meant that the runway at Ireland West Airport has been designated runway 09/27 — depending on which direction an aircraft approaches or departs.
However the drifting of Earth’s magnetic poles over the last half century has seen a shifting of the runway’s magnetic headings. They now stand at 164°M and 344°M, respectively. Pole shift is a constantly occurring geological phenomenon, in which the Earth’s magnetic field shifts. As a result the runway at Ireland West Airport will be re-designated as runway 08/26 from 28th April 2016
There will be an alteration of some software systems, new airfield mapping & a change in communications with private and commercial pilots. New charts and updated flight procedures are also being finalised to be introduced at the end of April/ Early May.
John McCarthy, Head of Airport Operations & Commercial Services at Ireland West Airport said, “This is an unusual occurrence for any Airport as an airport runway number only changes approximately once every 50 years. Generally there will be no change but manuals and procedures will have to be updated to reflect the new runway numbering. The Main effect will be for Air Traffic Control and aircraft systems & additionally we will be replacing the taxiway and airfield signage and painting new designation numbers on runway thresholds. Importantly, It should be noted that the change in runway designator numbers will have no effect on aircraft movements”
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