Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Runway 88

Recently I learned an air traffic control code that hadn't known before. I saw some movement statistics for an airport that included the column "Runway 88." This looks as odd to a pilot as a reference to the 21st hole would to a golfer. (Cue eleven readers telling me that some golf courses go past eighteen holes). Runway numbers correspond to the hundreds and tens digits of the bearing you are on while on or lined up for that runway. There is no compass bearing of 880 degrees, so what was this runway?

I knew they weren't keeping statistics on bar attendance, a la the 19th hole of a golf course, so I checked and found that Runway 88 is the designation for an aircraft just passing through a control zone, but not landing at the airport there. You might pass through if the weather is too poor to go above, or if you've just taken off from another nearby airport and haven't had a chance to climb above this control zone through yet.

Does anyone know how universal that code is, or if there are any more like that? Perhaps air traffic controllers have a black humour that includes a runway designation for runway excursions, or a speculative destination for pilots who don't appear to have it sufficiently together to make it to their filed destination. Probably not, but it amuses me to think of a controller tagging someone up as "runway 73" as a message to her colleague.

15 comments:

Colin said...

I wish I knew if it was used in the States as well. I'd like to request Runway Eight Eight when I next need a transition.

Sarah said...

What gets me are when the runway number is painted in roman numerals. Why anyone would think runway 10 is better labeled "X" is beyond me.

kt said...

In my limited career as an ATC, I can safely say I have never heard of "runway eight eight"!

Last summer there seemed to be a lot of uncooperative pilots... I recall seeing a Piper "DOOSHBAG" flying around for a few hours one weekend.

Aviatrix said...

Sarah, you totally got me with that one. I almost asked you which airport before I realized what you'd said.

kt, awesome. Thank you for confirming my suspicions about how you guys keep track of us.

Sarah said...

Ha! I'm glad; I half thought I'd used that joke here before.

Seriously though, what's with professional crews using lettered taxiways for runways these days? There was recently that landing in Atlanta - and now this. Another could turn out badly.

Anoynmous said...

Did you pick 73 as a hypothetical example at random, or did you know that 88 and 73 are the two common amateur radio sendoffs?

73: "Best regards"
88: "Love and kisses"

(They're the only surviving items from the old Western Union list of 92 numbered phrases.)

Aviatrix said...

Anoynmous, I wish I were so clever. I'll pretend I am, so you can consider it a shoutout.

Andy said...

Another use for runway 88 is in a Snowtam/Motne where the 88 designator means the Snowtam applies to all runways.

Thats here in the UK/Europe..not sure if its the same over there.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of "88" either... the only thing I know that would be close is a snowtam report for a parallel runway:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=snowtam+parallel+runway&cts=1267499207556&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=

Julien said...

@Sarah: And me who always thought the "X" materialised the target touch-down point for short-field landings...

Aluwings said...

From the "close enough" file - Apparently a true telephone call to CYYJ tower:

Ultralight pilot: "Yeah, me and a couple of buddies would like to fly in and land at your airport. We don't have radios."

Tower Controller: "Okay, we're not busy right now so that should be okay. Arrange to land on runway 34 and watch for the green light."

Ultralight Pilot: "You have 34 runways over there!!"

Tower Controller: "On second thought. Maybe not today. Bye."

Joël Morin said...

Hi
to quote the Canadian definitions for Air Movement Stats:

"Runway 88

Through control zone flights, i.e. flights which communicate with the tower while transiting the tower control zone to another destination without landing at the reporting airport."

Runway 60 is also used as a code for helicopters departing/arriving without the use of a runway.

Don't know what other countries use as a code for these...

zb said...

I'm just kinda glad that this nonsense is not part of the story... Let's hope you won't get too many hits from weird google searches towards this article...

paul said...

Ah, NavCanada.

Runway 88 as in, "That will $88.00 for transitioning through. Mastercard or Visa?"

73's,

--paul

Joël Morin said...

@Paul - You know darned well NAV CANADA doesn't charge that way :-P

We actually went to great pains to make sure that private pilots wouldn't be billed on a fee-for-service basis for reasons of safety when we developed our charging principles. :-)

'nuff said in this forum - private discussion welcomed.

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