Runway Threshold

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Runway Threshold

Runway Threshold

The runway threshold is a critical component of any airport runway. It is the starting point of a runway, which indicates the point where an aircraft can touch down or take off. The threshold is marked by a painted line across the runway and often includes lights for better visibility during low-light conditions.

Key Takeaways:

  • The runway threshold is the starting point of a runway.
  • It marks the point where an aircraft can touch down or take off.
  • Threshold markings include a painted line and often lights.

**Threshold markings** are typically white and can vary in design depending on the type and size of the runway. These markings help pilots determine the correct approach path and touchdown point. Aiming for the threshold ensures safe landing or takeoff operations. The precision approach markings are especially important during difficult weather conditions, such as low visibility. *Pilots rely on the threshold markings to guide them towards a successful landing or takeoff.*

Types of Thresholds

There are different types of thresholds that vary based on the location and characteristics of the runway:

  1. Displaced threshold: A displaced threshold is located before the designated threshold and is commonly used to avoid obstructions like trees, buildings, or bodies of water. It allows for a clear approach path and increases safety during takeoff.
  2. Threshold overrun area: This refers to the designated area beyond the threshold which allows for aircraft to safely decelerate or abort takeoff in case of emergencies.
  3. Touchdown zone: The touchdown zone is the portion of the runway immediately before the threshold where the aircraft’s main landing gear should make contact. It is marked by additional runway markings called touchdown zone markings.

**Table 1**: Runway Threshold Markings

Threshold Type Description
Displaced Threshold Avoids obstructions and provides a clear approach path.
Threshold Overrun Area Allows for safe deceleration or aborted takeoff in emergencies.
Touchdown Zone The area where the aircraft’s landing gear contacts the runway.

**Table 2**: Types of Thresholds at Different Airports

Airport Displaced Threshold Threshold Overrun Area Touchdown Zone
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) Yes Yes Yes
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) No No Yes
London Heathrow Airport (LHR) Yes Yes No

**Table 3**: Common Runway Threshold Markings

Marking Type Description
Displaced Threshold Markings Longitudinal stripes before the landing threshold indicating a displaced threshold.
Threshold Markings The solid white line marking the beginning of the runway.
Touchdown Zone Markings Series of bars indicating the touchdown zone, typically placed in 500-foot increments.

Understanding the importance of the runway threshold and its markings is crucial for pilots, air traffic controllers, and aviation enthusiasts alike. The threshold provides a clear starting point for aircraft operations and ensures safe landings and takeoffs. Next time you’re at an airport, take a moment to appreciate the significance of the runway threshold and the precision it brings to the aviation industry.

*Keep in mind, the runway threshold is just the beginning of a longer journey in aviation.*

Image of Runway Threshold

Common Misconceptions

Paragraph 1: The Runway Threshold

One common misconception people have about the runway threshold is that it refers to the physical end of the runway. However, the runway threshold is actually the beginning portion of the runway where aircraft commence their takeoff or landing procedures. It is marked by a designated threshold line and often indicated by lights or signage.

  • The runway threshold is not the end of the runway.
  • Aircraft initiate takeoff or landing from the runway threshold.
  • Thresholds are marked to assist pilots in their approach or departure.

Paragraph 2: Length of the Runway Threshold

Another common misconception is that the length of the runway threshold is fixed or standardized across all airports. In reality, the length of the runway threshold can differ depending on various factors such as airport size, aircraft traffic, and safety regulations. Some thresholds may be shorter or longer, depending on the specific airport’s requirements.

  • Runway thresholds can vary in length.
  • Airport size and aircraft traffic influence the threshold length.
  • Safety regulations dictate the length of the threshold.

Paragraph 3: Runway Threshold and Displaced Threshold

Many people often confuse the runway threshold with a displaced threshold. While they are related, these two concepts are distinct. The runway threshold is the starting point of the runway, while a displaced threshold is a portion of the runway that is not available for landing or takeoff due to obstacles, such as buildings or bodies of water.

  • The runway threshold is not the same as a displaced threshold.
  • A displaced threshold is an area on the runway not available for landing or takeoff.
  • Obstacles determine the location of a displaced threshold.

Paragraph 4: Runway Threshold and Runway End Safety Area (RESA)

Some people mistakenly assume that the runway threshold and the runway end safety area (RESA) are interchangeable terms. However, the RESA refers to the specified area beyond the runway end, which serves as a buffer zone to reduce the potential damage in case of overshooting or undershooting during takeoff or landing. The runway threshold and RESA are separate aspects of runway design and safety.

  • The runway threshold is not the same as the runway end safety area (RESA).
  • The RESA serves as a buffer zone beyond the runway end.
  • The RESA is designed to minimize damage during overshooting or undershooting.

Paragraph 5: Runway Threshold and Stopping Distance

Lastly, some people mistakenly believe that the runway threshold is directly related to the aircraft’s stopping distance. Although the runway threshold is a crucial reference point during landing, the stopping distance is determined by various factors, including the aircraft’s speed, weight, and braking capabilities. The runway threshold itself does not influence the stopping distance directly.

  • The runway threshold does not directly affect the aircraft’s stopping distance.
  • Stopping distance is influenced by speed, weight, and braking capabilities.
  • The runway threshold is a reference point during landing but not a factor in stopping distance.
Image of Runway Threshold


In aviation, a runway threshold refers to the beginning point of a runway where aircraft commence takeoff or landing procedures. The accuracy and length of the runway threshold play a significant role in ensuring safe and efficient aircraft operations. In this article, we explore various aspects related to runway thresholds, such as their dimensions, lighting, and markings, to gain a better understanding of their importance for pilots and air traffic controllers.

1. Runway Threshold Dimensions

The following table showcases the dimensions typically associated with runway thresholds in feet:

Category Width Length
Small Runway 60 300
Medium Runway 100 500
Large Runway 150 750

2. Runway Threshold Lighting

Effective lighting systems at runway thresholds enhance visibility for pilots during all operational conditions. Here are the commonly used lighting configurations:

Lighting Type Description
Threshold End Identifier Lights (TEIL) Unidirectional lights located at the runway threshold ends
Runway End Identifier Lights (REIL) Unidirectional lights located on both sides of the runway threshold
Threshold Crossing Height Lights (TCHL) Lighting systems aiding in vertical depth perception during approach

3. Runway Threshold Markings

Clear and standardized markings at runway thresholds assist pilots in executing safe landings. The table below presents the various runway threshold markings:

Marking Type Description
Basic Threshold A solid white line perpendicular to the runway edge
Displaced Threshold A solid white line adjacent to a dashed line, indicating a temporary threshold shift
Blast Pad Threshold A dashed line separator denoting the beginning of a blast pad

4. Runway Threshold Surface Materials

Utilizing suitable surface materials at runway thresholds is crucial for ensuring optimal friction and stability. The table below showcases common surface materials:

Material Type Description
Asphalt Smooth surface material providing good traction
Concrete Durable and resilient material with excellent load-bearing capacity
Grass Natural surface material suitable for small aircraft and grass runways

5. Arresting Gear at Runway Thresholds

In certain military and emergency settings, arresting gear is used at runway thresholds to aid in stopping landing aircraft. The table below outlines different types of arresting gear:

Gear Type Description
Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) Crushable material installed at the runway end to decelerate aircraft
Hook Cable System Steel cables at the threshold maximize friction for aircraft with tail hooks
Mobile Aircraft Arresting System (MAAS) Portable hydraulic barriers capable of arresting aircraft

6. Threshold Elevation and Obstacle Surveys

Accurate measurement of elevation and identification of obstacles near runway thresholds are critical for safety. The table below presents elevation and obstacle survey data:

Airport Threshold Elevation (ft) Obstacle Type Obstacle Height (ft)
John F. Kennedy International 12 Tall Building 268
Heathrow Airport 78 Radio Tower 454
Narita International 41 Control Tower 385

7. Runway Threshold Wind Systems

Wind systems at runway thresholds provide crucial information to pilots for making informed decisions during takeoffs and landings. The table demonstrates various wind measurement systems:

System Type Functionality
Windsock A fabric cone indicating wind direction and strength
Anemometer An instrument measuring wind speed
Weather Vane A device showing wind direction

8. Runway Threshold Noise Abatement

Noise abatement measures at runway thresholds are employed to minimize the impact of aircraft noise on neighboring communities. The table below highlights different noise reduction techniques:

Technique Description
Construction of Noise Barriers Physical structures reducing noise propagation
Flight Path Adjustments Altering aircraft approaches to minimize noise exposure
Quieter Aircraft Design Development of aircraft with reduced noise emissions

9. Threshold Operations During Adverse Weather

During challenging weather conditions, runway thresholds play a vital role. The table below displays enhanced operational measures during adverse weather:

Condition Operational Procedure
Low Visibility Use of instrument landing systems and precision approach lighting
Strong Crosswinds Assessment of aircraft crosswind limitations by air traffic controllers
Heavy Rain or Snow Improved friction measurement systems for enhanced braking action

10. Runway Threshold Incident Statistics

In order to understand the significance of runway thresholds, the table below provides incident statistics related to runway operations:

Runway Incidents Number of Incidents (Annual Average)
Runway Excursions 150
Rejected Takeoffs 200
Runway Incursions 90


Runway thresholds form a critical element of any airport infrastructure. They contribute to the safe and efficient flow of air traffic by providing pilots with essential information, promoting reliable braking action, and supporting noise reduction efforts. Furthermore, runway thresholds act as reference points for aircraft operations during different weather conditions. By understanding the dimensions, lighting, markings, and various other aspects associated with runway thresholds, aviation professionals can ensure the overall safety and effectiveness of flight operations.

Runway Threshold – Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a runway threshold?

The runway threshold marks the beginning of the runway available for landing or takeoff. It provides pilots with a visual reference point, helping them ensure a safe approach or takeoff.

How is the runway threshold determined?

The location of the runway threshold is determined based on various factors, including the runway’s dimensions, surrounding terrain, and approach requirements. It is typically positioned to provide enough distance for aircraft to safely land or takeoff.

What are the markings used to identify a runway threshold?

The runway threshold is marked with a series of white stripes perpendicular to the runway’s centerline. These markings are often accompanied by numbers indicating the runway designation.

Why are there different colored lights at the runway threshold?

The different colored lights at the runway threshold, usually green or red, are used to aid pilots during approach or landing. The lights help indicate the runway’s position, and their color may vary depending on the airport’s lighting system and regulations.

Are there specific regulations regarding the width of a runway threshold?

Yes, there are specific regulations regarding the width of a runway threshold. These regulations may vary depending on the airport’s location and the type of aircraft using the runway. Typically, the width is designed to accommodate the aircraft’s wingspan and provide sufficient safety margins.

Can the runway threshold markings be modified or altered?

No, runway threshold markings should not be modified or altered without proper authorization from the relevant aviation authorities. Any modifications to the markings could result in confusion for pilots and compromise safety.

What safety measures are in place at the runway threshold?

Various safety measures are implemented at the runway threshold to enhance aviation safety. These may include the installation of arrestor beds, runway end safety areas, and the presence of approach lighting systems to aid pilots during critical phases of flight.

How does the runway threshold differ from the runway end?

The runway threshold marks the beginning of the available landing or takeoff area, while the runway end refers to the physical end of the runway. The runway end may be extended beyond the threshold and usually includes a displaced threshold area where landings are not permitted.

Are there any regulations on the height of the runway threshold lights?

Yes, there are regulations on the height of the runway threshold lights. These regulations ensure that the lights are positioned at a height that allows them to be clearly visible to approaching aircraft during landing or takeoff.

What are the consequences of landing or taking off before the runway threshold?

Landing or taking off before the runway threshold can be dangerous and may lead to runway excursion or inadequate runway performance. It is important for pilots to adhere to the designated runway threshold to ensure safe operations.