There has been constant innovation in the airport context throughout recent history. And it has always been aimed at improving airport services and the services of companies operating in them, within an operational safety framework. In practice we are permanently witnessing the implementation of new solutions which improve communications, signalling systems, processes or airport management itself.
However, if we stick to airfield design, it is possible to observe that the concept is practically the same as the one created when the first aerodromes were built, in the beginning of the 20th century. It is clear that the geometrical approach of airfields, from a large-scale perspective, of course, has hardly evolved.
For this reason, innovative new initiatives that lead to debates being opened on possible new solutions to old problems most certainly attract attention, even if their technical feasibility hasn’t yet been fully evaluated.
One of these proposals is the so-called “Endless Runway“, which is being developed by a group of companies and entities from several countries which aim at assessing the feasibility of an airport with a circular design. Something completely new for sure. According to their webpage, this approach has a great number of advantages. Many professionals from the sector will undoubtedly have some (or many) objections to it from a technical point of view. But one of the big advantages of this proposal is that it opens a debate on an issue which, up until now, seemed untouchable.
You can find all the information on this project on http://www.endlessrunway-project.eu/
Some of the main European aerospace research entities participate in this initiative: NLR (The Netherlands), DLR (Germany), ONERA (France), INTA (Spain) and ILOT (Poland).