Hanscom Field is the region’s premier full-service general aviation airport, and it plays a critical role in New England’s regional aviation system as a corporate reliever for Boston Logan International Airport. Hanscom Field operates 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Hanscom Field has two intersecting runways which provide aircraft with four runway approach options. Runway 11-29 is 7,011 feet long, lies east-west and is the primary runway. Runway 5-23 is 5,107 feet long, lies northeast-southwest and is the secondary, crosswind runway.
How Runways are Used
Weather is the primary factor in determining which runway is used. Optimal aircraft performance is achieved when an aircraft lands or departs into the wind. The FAA assigns runways for all flights based primarily on the wind. Other criteria that factor into the decision are ceilings and/or visibility, arrival and departure flight paths, air traffic in the area, and a pilot’s request. Pilot requests are generally based on the FAA’s recommendation, wind direction, runway length, aircraft performance, and destination/approach location. Sometimes, a runway is closed for maintenance, snow removal, etc.
Runway Use and the Communities
Runway use dictates the flight paths used by aircraft as they approach and depart the airport. Runway 11-29 lies east-west, with Lexington to the east of the airport and Concord to the west. If the 11 end is being used for arrivals, the aircraft make their final approach over Concord, while departures fan out over Lexington. If the 29 end is being used for arrivals, the aircraft make their final approach over Lexington, while departures fan out over Concord.
Runway 5-23 lies northeast-southwest, with Bedford north of the airport and Lincoln south of the airport. If the 23 end is being used for arrivals, the final approach is over Bedford, while departures fan out over Lincoln. If the 5 end is being used for arrivals, the final approach is over Lincoln, while departures fan out over Bedford.
Statistically, Runway 11-29 is used more frequently than Runway 5-23. Shifts in runway use patterns can create the perception of increases or decreases in traffic at a particular location.