Which runways are currently in use at Schiphol?
Schiphol has six runways. Five long runways for international air traffic, plus a short one which is mainly intended for general aviation, private jets and helicopters. Which runways are in use is determined by Air Traffic Control the Netherlands and depends on a number of factors such as weather conditions, how busy it is and the agreements that have been reached with our neighbours.
The wind beneath your wings
One key factor is the weather, and the wind in particular. If you enjoy a lot of cycling, you might feel like you’re always struggling against headwinds. But pilots love headwinds, as they use them for take-off and landing. This creates greater lift under the wings, meaning shorter runways are needed as the wind helps them get off the ground more easily and touch down at slower speeds.
As you can imagine, the wind direction is important in determining which runways should be in use. When the wind blows from a northerly direction for example, we use Runway 18R-36L for take-offs and Runway 06-24 for landings. Of course, if the wind blows from a southerly direction, it’s the other way around. Various runway combinations are possible depending on wind direction. In addition to wind, thunderstorms, fog, hail and snow may also influence the choice of runways.
For safety reasons, our runways receive regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. This can mean that a runway is unavailable for use by air traffic, and flight services may be diverted via other runways. Maintenance continues 24/7 to keep any impact to a minimum. Maintenance is usually carried out during off-peak times. For example at night, or when a runway can’t be used due to strong winds.
Agreements with the community
There's no denying that aircraft make a lot of noise. Noise disturbance is an issue for people living in the immediate vicinity of the airport. To limit noise disturbance, we have reached agreements with the government and our neighbours. We also restrict take-offs and landings between 23:00 and 06:00 and tend to only use Runway 18R-36L and Runway 06-24. Night flights also take slightly different flight paths to reduce the inconvenience they cause. We only deviate from these procedures in the event that the situation compromises security.
Live tracking runway use
Interested in finding out which runways are currently in use at Schiphol? The flight tracking app shows which runways are in use and which flight services are taking off and landing.