Melbourne Airport has two runways; the main runway, Runway 16/34 (3.7 km long) is orientated north-south and the smaller cross runway, Runway 09/27 (2.3km) is orientated east-west.
Each runway is referred to differently according to in which direction it is being used. For example the main runway is known as Runway 34 when used in a northerly direction and Runway 16 when used in a southerly direction. Runway numbering reflects the runways’ orientation and correlates with degrees on a compass. Runway 34 is 340 degrees.
An Instrument Landing System operates for aircraft landing on Runways 16 and 27, and non-precision approaches are available to all runways.
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 Melbourne’s seasonal wind patterns affect usage of the different runway directions. Specifically, Runway 16 tends to be used more frequently in the warmer months due to southerly winds whereas Runway 34 tends to be used more frequently in the cooler months when the predominant wind direction tends to be northerly. The pattern of use of Runway 27 tends to be less clear-cut as it can generally be used with either a northerly or southerly wind, provided the crosswind does not exceed the maximum allowed speed of 20 knots, including gusts.
Runways may be used in combination. For example, Runway 27 may be used for departures while Runways 27 and 34 are being used in combination for arrivals.
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.
The Melbourne Noise Abatement Procedures outline that between 6.00 am and 11.00 pm, when there is not heavy traffic, Runways 16 and 27 are equally preferred for landing. Runway 27 used in combination with Runway 34, and Runway 27 used alone, are equally preferred for departures.
During busy periods between 6.00 am and 11.00 pm, Runways 27 and 34 used in combination and Runways 34 and 09 used in combination are equally preferred.
At night, between 11.00 pm and 6.00 am, the preferred runway for arrivals is Runway 16 and for departures is Runway 27.