Belgocontrol: increased preferential runway use at Brussels Airport in 2017

Belgocontrol draws the balance of last year’s runway use at Brussels Airport. In 2017 the company could secure 85% of movements at the airport being performed at the three preferential runways (25R, 25L and 19). In 15% 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 that low. ​ ​

The choice of which operational runways to use is made by Belgocontrol according to the rules laid down by the Minister for Mobility, the preferential runway system (also defined by the 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% of take-offs (as opposed to 14.3% in 2016) and runway 01 for 8.8% of all landings at Brussels Airport (as opposed to 12.3% in 2016).

Less works, less wind from the North-East sector

The difference between 2016 and 2017 is to be 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, 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. Reminder: the dominant winds are blowing from the South-West sector, which is in line with the main runways 25R and 25L at Brussels Airport.

Johan Decuyper, Belgocontrol CEO: “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.”

Figures per runway

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 on BATC .be due to the chosen methodology, in particular by taking into account or not helicopter flights, touch & go, go-arounds, etc. ​

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About skeyes

skeyes ensures the safety and efficiency of air traffic in Belgium 24/7. The skeyes air traffic controllers manage over 3,000 aircraft every day, which makes up over a million flight movements per year. The autonomous public company is active at the heart of Europe, in one of the busiest and most complex sections of airspace of the continent. skeyes is active at Brussels Airport and at the airports of Antwerp, Charleroi, Kortrijk, Liège and Ostend. Thanks to its CANAC 2 control centre skeyes manages the flight movements above Belgium and a part of Luxembourg up to an altitude of 7,500 metres (*). The company relies on its nearly 900 experienced staff members who are at the service of their customers: airline companies, airports, the aviation sector and the authorities. skeyes also develops innovating services regarding drones and contributes to a sustainable future of the aviation sector, among other things with respect to the environment.

skeyes is a member of FABEC, a joint airspace block (Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland) with the aim of improving air navigation efficiency in the heart of Europe in the framework of the Single European Sky.

(*) The upper airspace of the Benelux countries and North West Germany is managed jointly with the EUROCONTROL centre in Maastricht. 


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