How do you measure a runway? | Aviation

Runways – an essential part of the equation when it comes to operating fixed wing aircraft. Not only do aircraft need a runway to operate at all, but they also need a runway long enough to take off or land. As such, we need to know how long that runway is. This is not as simple as getting your tape measure out and measuring the entire length of the surface. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requires ‘declared distances’ for runways, which are published in the county’s Aeronautical information Publication (AIP). Let’s take a look at those declared distances and what they mean. 

There are three key terms that define the different sections of the area we generally think of as ‘the runway’ that we need to understand first, as defined by ICAO. 

The Runway

The Runway is defined as a “Rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft”. Notice that this doesn’t actually specify tarmac. Runways can vary vastly in length and surface material, but we will assume a paved runway for the sake of this explainer.

Runways are typically measured in meters, though in North America it is more common to use feet. That said, both of these are printed on airport charts.

The Stopway

The Stopway is an area placed immediately after the runway that is used by the aircraft in the event of a rejected takeoff, and as such it…


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