Preferred sequence

By day, three runways are in use at the same time during peak times. Depending on the supply of air traffic, these are combinations of two take-off runways and one landing runway, or of two landing runways and one take-off runway. Outside peak times, a combination of two runways is used, with one landing runway and one take-off runway. In between the peaks, four runways may be in use for short periods: two take-off runways and two landing runways.

With Schiphol’s five long and one short runway, many different combinations of one or two landing runways and one or two take-off runways are possible. The weather conditions, the current supply of traffic and the environmental rules determine which combination is used. This takes place on the basis of the ‘preferred sequence’. If several runway combinations are suitable during certain meteorological and operational conditions, the preferred sequence determines which runway combination is actually used. For example, with good visibility and gentle winds, more than one runway combination is possible. Air traffic controllers will keep to the preferred sequence list in determining the runway combinations to be used. This list is part of the New Standards and Enforcement System recorded in the Alders recommendations of 8 October 2013. This was drawn up at the Alders Table by agreement between local residents, administrators, the central government, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the airlines and LVNL.

Separate preferred sequence lists are used by day (6.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m.) and at night (11.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.). Alternative preferred sequence lists also apply at times when a runway is unavailable. It was agreed at the Alders Table that the sector will not take steering measures during the runway operations plan period. As a result, there is a fixed preferred sequence that is not changed in the course of the year.