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Brisbane Airport has two runways: 01/19 (3500 metres) and 14/32 (1700 metres).
Each runway is referred to differently according to in which direction it is being used. For example the main runway is known as Runway 01 when used in a northerly direction and Runway 19 when used in a southerly direction. Runway numbering reflects the runways’ orientation and correlates with degrees on a compass. Runway 19 is 190 degrees.
Runway selection and seasonal winds
Runway selection is based on wind direction, weather conditions, traffic volume and other factors. See the Runway Selection fact sheet for more details. Aircraft primarily take-off and land into the wind for safety and performance reasons. Therefore, as the wind direction changes the runway in operation may also change depending on the strength of the wind.
This means that Brisbane’s seasonal wind patterns affect usage of the different runway directions. Runway 01 tends to be used more often from August to January when there are frequent winds with a northerly component. Runway 19 tends to be used more frequently between February and July when the predominant wind direction tends to be southerly.
Noise abatement procedures
Noise abatement procedures are designed to help reduce the impact of aircraft noise on communities. While they are applied whenever it is possible to do so, their use is not mandatory and is subject to weather conditions and traffic requirements.
In Brisbane, the noise abatement procedures set out that “Reciprocal Runway Operations” is the preferred runway scheme, particularly between 10.00 pm and 6.00 am. When reciprocal operations are in place, all aircraft arrive and depart over Moreton Bay. This is unusual, because generally runways are used in one direction only at any given time, that is, all aircraft land at one end of the runway and take off from the other end. Because reciprocal runway operations require aircraft to take off from the same end that other aircraft are landing to, increased separation between arriving and departing aircraft is required to safely implement this configuration. Therefore reciprocal operations can only occur when the traffic levels are low. If reciprocal operations were used when traffic levels were high it would result in long delays and holding.
Another constraint on the use of reciprocal operations is the weather. If the wind conditions are not suitable, and/or if there are thunderstorms in the area or low visibility, reciprocal operations cannot be used.