Cork Airport forced to change name of runway due to shifting magnetic poles!

20 January 2016
By Elaine Murphy

From April 2016 runways will be numbered as 16/34

Cork Airport is set to change both of its runway designation numbers for its main runway in April due to alternations in the earth’s magnetic poles. Is this a joke? why April? surely it’s not the 1st of April? no this is real.


The runway designator is made up of a two digit number displayed at each side of the runway, which shows its magnetic heading nearest the full 10 degrees.

The main runways at Cork Airport have been numbered as 17/35 since 1961 and the drifting of the Earth’s magnetic poles has shifted the runways’ magnetic headings, which now stand at 164°M and 344°M, respectively.

The numbers are required to change in April 2016 in order to remain safety compliant and licenced by the Irish Aviation Authority.

Speaking about the change Ciaran Carton, General Manager of Operators at Cork Airport said: “This is an unusual occurrence for Cork Airport as an airport runway number only changes approximately once in every 50 years. The different runway numbers are crucial for pilots during take-off, landing and taxiing.

“There will also be an alteration of software systems, new airfield mapping and a change in communications with private and commercial pilots. Additionally, we will be replacing the taxiway signage and painting new designation numbers on runway thresholds.”

He added: “It should be noted that the change in runway designator numbers will have no effect on aircraft movements. The next change isn’t anticipated until 2066 in 50 years’ time.”

Profile of Cork Airport
Cork Airport is the international gateway to the South of Ireland and is uniquely positioned at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East. It is the country’s second largest and busiest international airport with more choice of routes than any other airport outside of Dublin. More than 2 million passengers travel through the airport each year, flying to top destinations across the UK and throughout continental Europe. Cork Airport’s customer service (as voted by passengers) has won national and international awards.

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