The Efficiency of Runway Usage

ATC #101

Oftentimes, you’ll see ATC supervisors and trainers alike stressing the usage of runways as efficiently and wisely as possible. With Expert server airports seeing large crowds at peak times, it is important to us and our controllers that every aircraft needing service are pushed in and out using all runways possible in order to minimize the inconvenience for those involved.

In today’s example, Sydney Kingsford airport in Aussie down under will be used to demonstrate such techniques. As many of you know, it has multiple runways with intersecting flight paths. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that they hinder operations way more than parallel runways could.

  • Example: Controller A thinks that going the parallel route would work best. He sends all aircraft that spawns in to 34L, intending to send all of them out that way, while landing planes on 34R.

Doable? Sure. However, don’t fall so easily for that. Rather, if you observe runway efficiency, you can make YSSY’s layout fit to your terms and use it to your advantage. Here’s how.


#1- Plan

  • Send aircraft on the domestic side to Runway 25.
  • Send the ones on the intl and cargo side to 34L.

Now, visualize this. Instead of one massive line building up on 34L, you have two shorter ones at the ends of intersecting runways. Arrivals are on 34R and occasionally on L, so they’re out of your way and arriving efficiently. In the gaps between departures on 25, simply cross somebody heading to 34L out that direction.

#2- Procedures:

  • Clear a plane from 25 for takeoff (assume he’s at the hold short line)
  • LUAW a plane on 34L and have him wait.
  • Clear 34L’s for takeoff once you’re sure prescribed separation will exist by the time 25’s departure clears the intersection.
  • LUAW a plane on 25 as the prior one rolls.
  • Clear him for takeoff once 34L is clear while LUAWing another for 34L.
  • Repeat.

This may not be the case for every situation, and perhaps the order will be flipped starting with 34L, but you get the gist of it.

It’s machine gun, guys. With this, you can go boom boom and fire people out quickly. You’re now working intersecting runways to your advantage, cutting taxi time significantly for a lot of planes and getting them out faster.

Think about it. If you sent every plane to 34L, including the ones on the domestic terminal side, those guys would have to not only cross 25, but L as well. With arrivals and departures operating on that runway, chances are they’ll be waiting to cross for a while. That costs you time. Precious time to squeeze as much ops as you can get out of a runway is wasted.

  • Example: Plane B crosses 25 southside and waits to cross L from the right… Other plane lands and one LUAWs. Plane B is still waiting… could’ve departed by now on 25 with the gap between the arrival and departure on L. Still has to wait for the departure to go, depending on controller mood.

#3- Rationalize

And, with that, you’ve made the flow of traffic at YSSY much quicker without handicapping yourself to parallel usage. In this case, using all three runways at the same time wisely greatly increased the capacity to handle more planes during peak times. It’s the little things that add up- even runways.

Of course, there are limits to how many planes an airport can handle in that configuration. All we ask is to simply use all of your resources and push that capacity to the top safely and efficiently before you have to start denying or holding people.

Below, I’ve attached Tyler’s intersection departure video, which is quite relevant to this post. Enjoy!


Yes Yes Yes Yes! The brilliant mind of Joshua Smithley teaching us something very important!


Good tutorial. I’d like to see more of these ‘101s’ to give some fresh reminders / tips to controllers.


Yes! I don’t understand when I’m in a Dash 8 and I am taxing to 34l. This topic is just what I need :)


Winds might have played a role in that one. Strong crosswinds during takoff are not fun for the Dash :)


Great idea to save time! What you typed is really thoughtful, many IFATC members should read this, in order to make a better potential.

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Great topic, not just for the ATC ops but also for those of us who are pilots. I normally land back on to 34L at YSSY as thought that was how IRL procedures where done there. Will look to use 34R more often.


Damn. Love this tutorial. I am not a controller, but I can see this being helpful to many people. Great example as well.
Well done 👍!

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Crystal clear! Thanks very much for those very useful tips.
Will aply ASAP.

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As an EBBR-resident, I would like to share an interesting website: Brussels Airport Traffic Control:
This website gives you, with a small delay, the actual use of runways at Brussels Airport.

In real life 25R is used for take-offs most of the time by all traffic. 25L is used for landings by commercial traffic while 25R is mainly used by military & cargo traffic but increasingly by commercial traffic.

On that same website, you can see stats on runway use in the past:

In Infinite Flight I often see aircraft landing on 20 (now 19) and taking off from 07L. Why? :) Those runways are rarely used for that purpose in real life.


We`re not always familiar with which runways are in use IRL and try to make things as efficient as possible.

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Still, landing on 20 and take-off from 07L doesn’t make sense. It’s not efficient :)


It wasnt me controlling, so I`m not sure what the controllers thoughts were. But I am sure he would have a logical explanation. What I mean by efficiency is, the concept of getting a large number of aircarfts out of the Airport without any conflicts on either ground or Tower and to have as Little delays as possible.
If everyone would spawn near the threshold of 07L, you would not taxi them all the way down to 07R, just to make it as realistic as possible.
It creates a lot more work for conrollers.
But I´ll keep that in mind :)

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No controller would use 20 for landing and takeoff from 07 on expert


This topic will surely be a fairly useful one, definitely!

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This is an excellent topic @JoshFly8 . I guess if I were to add something to the topic:

Before you open HAVE A PLAN on how to handle traffic. On airports with multiple runways (i.e. EHAM) I often spawn first and watch winds and sometimes look at TAF. Once I understand that and come up with a plan for runway usage, I open the frequencies.

BE FLEXIBLE. Having a plan doesn’t mean you’ll follow the plan no matter what. Be SMART, re-shape your plan as you go to adjust to traffic needs.

And finally (this will make @Tim_B happy) - sometimes using a “red” runway works better for traffic flow, do not simply define your strategy purely based on what IF shows you as far as runway colors, take into consideration how much wind, if crosswinds, how much difference does it really make to use one side or the other? I repeat: BE SMART.

A useful tool to find active runways at EHAM, i use it alot


Wind education is a must. Good points!

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I hope next up is the discussion of operating multiple runways for departure and multiple for landing (examples LAX, ORD, DFW, HOU, and ATL).Yes there is an easy way to do it but you can get backlogged quickly at those busy ones (TS1 LAX is a prime example. The advantages of using one side for arrivals and one side for departures havent been discussed that much and it would be great if that could be a topic you create as food for thought for others.

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Can I also recommend as a tactic for both ATC and also pilots is to check out flight radar 24 or similar so that you can see how the airport IRL is being used as this will give you some clues on how to operate an airport, especially if it’s a first time.

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