CORK AIRPORT IS to change the numbers assigned to its runways for the first time ever.
The move comes after shifts in the earth’s magnetic poles.
Each airport runway is assigned a runway designator number. The runway designator is made up of a two digit number displayed at each side of the runway, which shows its magnetic heading nearest the full 10 degrees.
The main runways at Cork Airport have been numbered as runway 17 and runway 35 since 1961 and the drifting of the Earth’s magnetic poles has shifted the runways’ magnetic headings, which now stand at 164°M and 344°M, respectively.
Pole shift is a constantly occurring geological phenomenon, in which the Earth’s magnetic field shifts.
Earth’s polarity is not a constant. Unlike a classic bar magnet, or the decorative magnets on your refrigerator, the matter governing Earth’s magnetic field moves around. Geophysicists are pretty sure that the reason Earth has a magnetic field is because its solid iron core is surrounded by a fluid ocean of hot, liquid metal.
The numbers are required to change in April 2016 in order to remain safety compliant and licensed by the Irish Aviation Authority.
Speaking about the change Ciaran Carton, General Manager of Operators at Cork Airport said:
This is an unusual occurrence for Cork Airport as an airport runway number only changes approximately once in every 50 years. The different runway numbers are crucial for pilots during take-off, landing and taxiing.
“There will also be an alteration of software systems, new airfield mapping and a change in communications with private and commercial pilots. Additionally, we will be replacing the taxiway signage and painting new designation numbers on runway thresholds.”