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Clarify that airport features shall be tagged as ref=01R/19L (for runways) and ref=A (for taxiways).

Creideiki 16:13, 1 January 2009 (UTC)


Looking at the data, there seems to be no consensus at the moment as to how airport features should be named.

The most commonly used formats, in decreasing order of frequency, seems to be:

  1. name=01R/19L
  2. ref=01R/19L
  3. Unformatted nonsense (e.g. name="Runway 01/19", name="01/19 grass" or ref="1/19")
  4. ref=01R;19L

The wiki page for Tag:aeroway=runway seems to favor ref=01R;19L, by referring to Key:ref which in turn references Faq#What_shall_I_do_for_roads_that_have_multiple_values_for_a_tag.3F.

My experience (noting that I've only been flying for ~2 years and visited a single-digit number of airports) is that the single string "01R/19L" is used when referring to the physical structure on the ground, but the divided "01R and "19L" (which should, as per Faq#What_shall_I_do_for_roads_that_have_multiple_values_for_a_tag.3F above, be tagged as "01R;19L") is used when discussing anything else - approach lights, administrative boundaries on runway use, traffic control clearances, et cetera. However, splitting the designation in this way presents the problem that the two logical runways do not always share the same physical strutcure. It is in fact a common situation that a piece in one end of the (physical) runway is only a part of the (logical) runway that ends there, not the one that begins there (see wikipedia:Displaced_threshold).

Runway numbers are always referred to with two digits and an optional relative location (left/center/right).

Seeing as runways usually don't have human-readable names, it seems natural to treat the designations as refs.

Creideiki 16:13, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

I would favour ref=01R;19L and in rare cases name=Human name of landing strip (I've heard of a private air field where the runway was referred to as "Stripa" meaning "the Strip") --Skippern 17:26, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Which way the length and width of runway is tagged?

  • length
  • width


  • runway.length
  • runway.width

User 5359 17:40, 24 October 2010 (BST)

Acquiring data

Let's see if I did this right...

wget -O runway.osm '*[aeroway=runway]'
dos2unix runway.osm
grep -c 'k=.ref.' runway.osm
grep 'k=.ref.' runway.osm | cut -c21- | tr -d "'>" | sed -e 's,^\(.*\)/,\1,g' | grep -c '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*/[0-9][0-9][RL]*$'
grep 'k=.ref.' runway.osm | cut -c21- | tr -d "'>" | sed -e 's,^\(.*\)/,\1,g' | grep -c '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*;[0-9][0-9][RL]*$'
ref=[something else]
grep 'k=.ref.' runway.osm | cut -c21- | tr -d "'>" | sed -e 's,^\(.*\)/,\1,g' | grep -v '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*/[0-9][0-9][RL]*$' | grep -cv '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*;[0-9][0-9][RL]*$'
grep -c '' runway.osm
grep '' runway.osm | cut -c21- | tr -d "'>" | sed -e 's,^\(.*\)/,\1,g' | grep -c '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*/[0-9][0-9][RL]*$'
grep '' runway.osm | cut -c21- | tr -d "'>" | sed -e 's,^\(.*\)/,\1,g' | grep -c '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*;[0-9][0-9][RL]*$'
name=[something else]
grep '' runway.osm | cut -c21- | tr -d "'>" | sed -e 's,^\(.*\)/,\1,g' | grep -v '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*/[0-9][0-9][RL]*$' | grep -cv '^[0-9][0-9][RL]*;[0-9][0-9][RL]*$'

Runways as areas

Many runways are wide enough that perhaps they should be drawn as areas. Same with taxiways, especially to preserve the shape of what's on the ground. Is there a preferred way to do this and allow naming the runways and taxiways simultaneously?--Elyk 05:34, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes there is a preferred way of how to map them. Just map the centreline of the runway/taxsway and then map the gras (or sand) between them as area. AssetBurned 02:50, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I have seen runways created as areas. Is there a good reason why these should be converted back to linear ways? Personally it would seem to be adding detail to the map to allow runways and taxiways to be areas now that we have excellent aerial photography. PeterIto 00:27, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
My impression, from reading this wiki, is that we should map both the area and the way, in the same way as for example riverbanks/rivers. The way is used to e.g. indicate a direction, which supplies additional information. However, if this is the purpose, I think it should be written more clearly in the wiki... I had to look at the Munich example in order to understand whether a way, an area or both should be used. Any comments? anderfo 08:19, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

The page was changed some time ago to suggest that runways can be mapped either as polygons or as linear ways without previous discussion. I now changed this back. Mapping runways as linear ways is established mapping practice and there is no informational gain from mapping them as a four node polygon compared to a two node way plus width tag so this practice can be considered as mapping for renderers that render runway polygons but do not consider the width tag when rendering runways mapped as linear ways.--Imagico (talk) 11:53, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

Your change has been reverted. Most comments above prefer to tag as way and optionally in addition as area. So I put that on the page.--Jojo4u (talk) 16:08, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
Note this does not fully reflect current mapping practice - while area mapping is more common in combination with line mapping there are a significant number of runways mapped as area only. Mappers could rightfully consider double mapping a violation of One feature, one OSM element. For double mapping there is also no clarity which of the objects should receive supplementary tags.--Imagico (talk) 16:43, 23 September 2015 (UTC)

Emergency runways

A part of a normal road might be used as an emergency runway, how should this be tagged. For example this part of road (41) has been made extra wide so planes can land. How should this be tagged ? --Onion 14:36, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

hm good point maybe we both should suggest a new tag. aeroway=highway_strip in reference to this wikipedia article. AssetBurned 02:42, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Disused runways?

How should I tag a runway that is no longer available for landings. I know that there are runways with blast off areas (mostly airports with a lot of sand) or even with extensions which only specific aircrafts are allowed to used (e.g. in Bremen EDDW). But what should I do with an runway that is now closed? Or which is partly closed? For now i use "closed" as name for that runway but that is highly confusing if only a section of the runway is closed. cu AssetBurned 02:47, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

--→ disused=yes ? unsigned
If only part of the runway is not available then split the way and mark the relevant part with disused=yes. Use surface=* if the surface varies. Not sure how you would specify certain types of aircraft only. I suggest you put your information into a note=* and leave someone else to figure out how to code it. PeterIto 00:23, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
disused:aeroway=runway superseded disused=yes. If the runway is permantly closed and has other uses (e.g. recreation) now, highway=* sound appropriate.--Jojo4u (talk) 11:29, 16 April 2016 (UTC)


This section currently seems to recommend two different and incompatible methods to map the lifecycle of runways: the aeroway=proposed+proposed=runway for proposed ones but the the lifecycle prefix for abandoned and disused ones. Should that be unified somehow? There are ~1600 abandoned:aeroway and disused:aeroway vs ~35 construction,proposed=runway RicoZ (talk) 14:10, 13 May 2016 (UTC)