Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s fourth runway has reopened for arriving planes, seven months after the Federal Aviation Administration ordered it closed for safety reasons.
The runway is Charlotte Douglas’ diagonal runway, known as Runway 5/23. It is the airport’s shortest, at just more than 7,500 feet long, and is used largely for landings and noise abatement, since its flight path largely goes over the Interstate 85 corridor.
The FAA closed the runway in August after concerns that flights using Runway 5/23 might cross paths with airplanes on the center runway. Although those runways don’t intersect, their flight paths cross.
There has been a handful of incidents in the past few years where people expressed concern about the simultaneous use of the center and diagonal runways, according to a federal database, though no accidents have been reported.
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The FAA said there are increased safety measures in place to make sure that planes don’t get in each other’s way.
Air traffic controllers see a “window” on their radar screens that shows when a plane is making its final approach to the diagonal runway, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. “While an arriving aircraft is in the ‘window,’ controllers cannot clear a flight for takeoff” from the center runway, Bergen said.
Charlotte Douglas directed all questions to the FAA. The airport had said that closing Runway 5/23 cut its maximum capacity for arrivals per hour to 85 flights, down from 95 flights when the runway was open.