WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Eisenhower Nation airport will have to renumber its runways due to the slow but constant shift in the Earth’s magnetic poles that’s altered pilots’ compass headings.
Airport officials told members of the Wichita Airport Advisory Board this week that the compass headings of the airport’s three runways have shifted six degrees because of magnetic variation. The change has prompted the airport to plan to renumber its two primary and one crosswind runways for the first time in its nearly 64-year history.
Every five years, the Federal Aviation Administration tests magnetic variation and assigns the values that’ll be used in designating runways. A magnetic variation shift greater than 3 degrees prompts the administration to make changes to published airport approaches, and to advise airports to make changes on their property.
Several airports across the country have had to renumber their runways in recent years, including in Oakland, California; Las Vegas; and Tampa, Florida.
Wichita airport officials said the changes will likely cost the airport hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Most of the physical costs would be airfield directional signage,” said Brad Christopher, assistant director of airports for the airport authority. “Almost all of those would have to be replaced.”
Christopher said the airport expects to pay for the costs with a grant from the administration. The runways will likely be physically renumbered in 2019.