The reason why aircraft have switched runways at Heathrow

London Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world. It also sits at the western edge of the U.K.’s capital and the majority of flights make their approach in over the city. Whilst this provides stunning views for pilots and passengers alike, it’s not ideal for the millions of people who live under the flight paths.

During normal operation, the northern runway is not used for departures. However, due to the drop in traffic due to coronavirus, the airport is now using one runway at a time for both takeoff and landing. This means that flights are now regularly taking off from the northern runway.

Heathrow runways and their usage

London Heathrow has two runways aligned in an east/west direction. The runways are given an alphanumeric designator, depending on the magnetic heading of the runway. As the westerly runways have a heading of 271 degrees, they are designated as 27L (two-seven left) and 27R (two-seven right). As the reciprocals, the runways at the other end are 09L and 09R.

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