Runway Numbers:

The number of any runway indicates that runway's compass heading. Just add a zero to the end of the runway number, and you know which way it runs.

Runways are numbered between 01 and 36. The number indicates the runway's heading. On a compass North is 360°, East is 90° South is 180° and West is 270°. You cannot have a runway zero. The two digit number is essentially 1/10th of the magnetic heading of the runway ±5° i.e. one digit per ten degrees. A runway pointing to the north with a heading from 355° to 004° will be generally given the number 36 (1/10th of 360° ±5°), similarly runway 09 points east (85°~94°), runway 18 is south (175°~184°), and runway 27 points west (265°~274°).

If a runway is identified as Runway 31, for example, that means you'd have a compass heading of (approximately) 310° while landing on or taking off from that runway.

When used in the opposite direction, the same strip of concrete will be called Runway 13. That is, 310° minus 180° equals 130° (or 31 minus 18 equals 13).

Similarly, Runway 4 would have a compass heading of about 040° (zero four zero degrees), and when used in the opposite direction the same physical strip of concrete would be referred to as Runway 22, with a heading of 220° (two two zero degrees).

Since a runway can be normally used in two directions (there are always exceptions), it will have a second number which will always differ by 18 (180° or half way across the compass). In India most airports have an east-west runway 09-27.



How to pronounce:

When an airport has two or three parallel runways pointing in the same direction, each runway is identified by appending Left (L), Right (R) and if there is a third runway, Centre (C), to the number — for example Dallas-Fort Worth International airport, has Runways One Seven Left (17L), One Seven Centre (17C), and One Seven Right (17R).

In the reverse direction the Left and Right get reversed. Runway One Seven Left (17L) becomes Runway Three Five Right (35R).

Runway lighting and marking:

To help pilots at night quickly identify the beginning of a runway, green threshold lights line the runway's edge. Red lights mark the ends of runways and indicate obstructions. Blue lights run alongside taxiways while runways have white or yellow lights marking their edges. All these markings and lights serve to set a safety standard for all pilots to follow.


Taxiways are given letter names like taxiway "Alpha", "Foxtrot", "Hotel" according to the International Phonetic Alphabet. They are indicated on signs by just their letter: "A", "F", "H". If the letter is followed by an arrow, the arrow indicates the direction the aircraft must turn in order to maneuver the aircraft onto that taxiway.
Sometimes taxiways are designated by a letter followed by a number (letter-number combination). This is to distinguish it from runways which are designated by just a number or a number-letter combination.

Direction sign for runway exit

A with arrow right

Destination sign for common taxiing route to two runways

27 and 33 with right arrow

Destination sign for different taxiing routes to two runways

5 and 13 with arrow left and arrow up