Completion of North Runway

Completed in 2008, Abu Dhabi International Airport’s second runway, the North Runway, doubled the airport’s runway capacity and made it the first airport in the UAE with CATIIIB capability, allowing landing during thick fog and in adverse weather conditions.

The CATIIIB classification, received in 2009, means the runway may be utilised when visibility falls below 125 meters, making it a fully independent runway system.

Runway data

  • The runway is 4.1 kilometres long and 60 meters wide
  • An investment of AED 1 billion was made on its construction
  • It is located two kilometres north and parallel but offset to the original runway.

Accommodating maintenance needs

An immediate benefit of the new runway was to allow maintenance of the current runway where necessary without affecting landings and takeoffs – an important step as Abu Dhabi International Airport operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

More on ILS classifications

Most commercial and scheduled flights run under a system of regulations called Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). This is a set of procedures which allows pilots to fly using aircraft instruments only, even in situations where visibility is impaired (such as flying into clouds or landing in dense fog). 

To assist pilots landing under IFR, airports incorporate Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) systems and lighting systems on their runways – known as Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). 

The accuracy of the ILS at a particular runway gives it a classification from CAT I (the least accurate) to CAT IIIC (the most accurate). The category of a runway determines how low an aircraft can fly before being required to see the runway.  For example, a pilot landing at a runway designated as CAT I must be able to see the runway from a height of at least 200 feet (61 metres), whereas a pilot landing at a CAT II runway can get to an altitude of 100 feet (30 metres) before they see the runway. The height at which the pilot must be able to see the runway is referred to as the “decision height”.

The North Runway at Abu Dhabi International Airport is fitted with a full CAT IIIB Instrument Landing System. Specifically, it allows for an approach under IFR with a decision height lower than 50 feet (15 metres) and a runway visual range (the distance a pilot can see down the runway) of only 150 feet (46 metres).