Heathrow - Runway 23

I am interested to know how the runways are used at Heathrow when there is a strong crosswind at the airport.

Do they just use Runway 23 for takeoffs and landings? Surely this must cause significant delays and a lot of diversions?

If it's at night do they still light the main runways or just 23?

Any thoughts or inside information on this?


Original post

RE: Heathrow - Runway 23

The situation at Heathrow is that runway 23 is used in periods of severe crosswind for landing only. The takeoff runway when 23 is in use is 27R and there is need for adequate spacing between each full length take off and landing but diversions are rare, longer holding pattern times being the usual outcome.

Runway 23/05 is short, from memory 7,500 ft, and as the crosswind conditions which dictate its use often bring heavy rain with them, the landings carried out can be described as "interesting".

I have only landed on 23 once, in 1983, on a flight from Hamburg, in November, on a Trident 3.
The 3 was a "hot" ship anyway and the descent was turbulent, fast and steep. Reverse thrust went on at about 50ft altitude (the Trident was the only civil airliner certified to use reverse whilst airborne)and the landing was hard, wet and the run to full stop extremely long compared to any of the other approx 40 Trident landings I've experienced.

In 1994 I arrived back from Berlin in a 757 which was 75 minutes late due to the use of 23 (which included 40 minutes in the hold) but by the time we made our approach, we landed on 27L. Interestingly 27R was being used for parallel approaches with at least 5 aircraft on each approach. This is very unusual and I can only assume that this was because it was 21.30 and take off traffic was light.

I don't recall seeing runway 05 being used since Terminal 4 opened. Approaches on this runway on a wet night could be spectacular. I recall an Air Canada 747 looming out of the mist over a very wet Great South West Road and aborting after deciding the runway was too short and wet. He later landed on 23 using a flatter approach and after a BA 747 pilot talked to him from the ground, he having just landed succesfully.

RE: Heathrow - Runway 23

Hi Phil,

Many thanks for that, I did wonder how they coped with getting everything up and down with such a small runway!

I don't think Runway 05 is used any more as there is no approach lighting and the 05 ID has been removed from that end of the runway.


RE: Heathrow - Runway 23

Hi Barry,

Thought 05 was out of use, thanks for the confirmation,