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Sydney Runway Layout

Understanding the Runway System

Sydney Airport has three runways:

  • The main north-south runway
  • The east-west runway
  • The third runway

Understanding the Runway System

What about runways 16R,16L,34L,34R,07,25 ?

You may come across these designations in documents such as the Briefing Notes on Sydney Airport and the Monthly Operational Statistics. These designations are used when it is necessary to indicate which direction the aircraft is heading. For example an aircraft taking off from the main north-south runway could start at the north end of the runway and take off to the south or it could start at the south end of the runway and take off to the north.

  • The main north-south runway is either 34L or 16R
  • The third runway is either 34R or 16L

As you can see from the diagram the runways are not aligned exactly north-south and east-west. An aircraft using either the main north-south runway or the third runway to land from the south or take off to the north would have a compass bearing of approximately 340 degrees (with 0 degrees being due north). Therefore when landing from the south or taking off to the north these aircraft are said to be using runway 34L or 34R, with the "34" coming from the compass bearing of 340 degrees, and "L" and "R" standing for left or right as viewed from the pilot's seat (so 34L indicates the main north-south runway and 34R indicates the third runway). Similarly aircraft landing from the north and taking off to the south are using runways 16L and 16R.

  • The east-west runway is either 07 or 25

Aircraft landing from the west or taking off over the east from the east-west runway are using runway 07 while aircraft landing from the east or taking off over the west are using runway 25.