The main runway at Adelaide Airport, Runway 05/23 is 3 kilometres long and is orientated south-west to north-east. There is a smaller 1.6 kilometre cross runway, Runway 12/30, which is orientated north-west to south-east. The cross runway is primarily used by propeller aircraft.
Each runway is referred to differently according to in which direction it is being used. For example the main runway is known as Runway 05 when used in a north-easterly direction and 23 when used in a south-westerly direction. Runway numbering reflects the runways’ orientation and correlates with degrees on a compass. Runway 23 is 230 degrees.
Runway selection and seasonal winds
Runway selection is based on wind direction, weather conditions, traffic volume and other factors. See the Runway Selection fact sheet for more details. Aircraft primarily take-off and land into the wind for safety and performance reasons. Therefore, as the wind direction changes the runway in operation may also change depending on the strength of the wind.
This means that Adelaide’s seasonal wind patterns affect usage of the different runway directions. The prevailing wind is southerly for most of the year, meaning that Runway 23 is used the most frequently. During the cooler months Runway 05 typically receives more use than at other times of the year because there tends to be more northerly winds.
Noise abatement procedures
Noise abatement procedures are designed to help reduce the impact of aircraft noise on communities. While they are applied whenever it is possible to do so, their use is not mandatory and is subject to weather conditions and traffic requirements.
In Adelaide the noise abatement procedures set out the preferred runway configuration for use during specific periods of the day. Between 6 am and 11 pm the most preferred runway is Runway 23 (arrivals over the suburbs and departures over the water), followed by Runway 05 as a second preference. If Runway 23/05 is not available, the preferred runway is Runway 30 and the second preference is Runway 12.