Runway 02/20 renamed 01/19

September 19, 2013

Runway 02/20 is no more. Last night the runway was officially renamed 01/19.

This name change is due to the shift of the magnetic north. All over the world runways bear a number from 01 to 36, depending on their direction with respect to the compass: the number 09 stands for the east (90°), 18 for the south (180°), 27 for the west (270°) and 36 for the north (360°). As runways can be used in two directions, which are 180° apart, they have two numbers that indicate both, with a difference that is always 18.

The compass aligns itself with the magnetic north pole, the location of which is not completely stable. The magnetic north pole of our planet shifts a bit each year, so that at a certain moment 11 degrees become 10 degrees and a few years later even 9 degrees.

Putting a runway name change into force requires more than just painting the new number on both ends of the runway. The fact is that the name of a runway appears in hundreds if not thousands of official documents and on plans, and they all have to be updated.

Last night the name was changed in all the databases used for aeronautical navigation all over the world. At the same time the signage at the airport was changed and the new numbers were painted at each end of the runway.

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