Belgocontrol boosts preferred Brussels runways

Belgocontrol secured 85 per cent of movements at Brussels Airport on its three preferential runways (25R, 25L and 19) in 2017.
In 15 per cent of cases, the air traffic controllers had to use alternative runway configurations in order to guarantee the safety of air traffic. It is the first time in fifteen years the number of landings on runway 01 has been so low.
The choice of which operational runways to use is made by Belgocontrol according to the rules laid down by the national transport ministry and defined by federal authorities depending on the time of day and the day of the week and especially the weather conditions as well as the availability of the runways.
When circumstances so require (weather, works being carried out on the runways, navigation equipment, etc.), alternative runway configurations have to be used so as to guarantee the safety of air traffic, as aircraft have to take off and land against the wind.
In 2017 Belgocontrol did not use those alternative runway configurations as much as the previous years. Runway 07R for instance was used for 9.6 per cent of take-offs (as opposed to 14.3 per cent in 2016) and runway 01 for 8.8 per cent of all landings at Brussels Airport (as opposed to 12.3 per cent in 2016).
The difference between 2016 and 2017 is explained to a large extent by two causes. The first one is runway availability. The main runways were available more often, because the maintenance works were smaller than in 2016 and the years before.
Wind direction is the other key factor. In contrast with previous years, 2017 was marked by less frequent North-East sector winds, which, depending on their intensity, can result in the alternative runway configuration 01/07R for aviation safety reasons.
Over the past year as a whole, the wind blew from the north-east sector for 1,250 hours, as opposed to an average of nearly 1,700 hours a year for the past ten years. The dominant winds usually blow from the south-west sector, which is in line with the main runways 25R and 25L at Brussels Airport.
Johan Decuyper, Belgocontrol chief executive said: “The actual figures can often objectify the public debate on the airport’s activities. We wish to contribute constructively to that debate, which is why we are investing in systems that monitor operations. We also communicate the information available to us, so as to inform all stakeholders as much as possible.”
Runway use in 2017 can be broken down as follows according to the number of take-offs from and landings on the various runways (see figures below). The figures of take-offs and landings can lightly differ from the those published due to the chosen methodology, in particular by taking into account or not helicopter flights, touch & go, go-arounds, etc