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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)

I think a way to cleanly deal with this ongoing tagging could be to extend the area:highway proposal ( ) to include area:aeroway (such as area:aeroway=runway and area:aeroway=taxiway). That proposal overall is an attempt to allow two dimensional mapping of roads as areas, to show their full extent on a map rather than (just) as a rendered line, but to avoid clashing tags with established drawn ways. It also would make implicitly clear that tags (width, etc. for aeroway features) belong on the way and not the area: drawn area. If extended in this way, it would make tagging areas as aeroway=* pointedly 'wrong' but provide alternative tagging that allows the information of the areas themselves to remain, rendered or not. Skybunny (talk) 21:45, 20 May 2018 (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)
I see many people create features duplication ("because I need it" I've got as an answer some time ago ː-O ). When a runway is wide enough, I draw it as an area. In real world a runway could be wide from few meters, for the model aircraft runways, to 80 meters; draw a runway compulsory as a way is a bad way to represent this feature. Sometimes happens that a runway I drawn as a way is downgraded to a way, why? --Ale Zena IT (talk) 09:30, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
The same argument could be made for mapping all roads as areas instead of linear ways. In both cases area:highway=* or area:aeroway=runway is a reasonable option for mapping the area - though in the case of a fixed-width, straight runway it is not really necessary: the geometry of the centerline plus the width provides the same information. --Jeisenbe (talk) 05:23, 2 March 2021 (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)


I found this undocummented tag at Miami Int'l Airport yesterday. What's being done is extending or splitting the way runway and adding runway=blast_pad to the blast area at the end(s) of the runway. My concerns, which I expressed to the author of the changeset containing this tag, are as follows:

  • It breaks the semantics of aeroway=runway: A [W] runway is a "rectangular area on a[n] aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft". Blast pad sections, while part of the runway infrastructure, fail to fulfil the basic function of a runway as aircraft aren't to land or take off in these areas (except in an emergency). An [W] Engineered materials arrestor system would be another example of runway features that extend from but are most definitely not part of the area for landing/take-off area (the runway). Secondly, the lighting systems applied at the edge between runway and blast pad are called Runway Threshold / End Lighting, meaning that anything beyond this point is not a runway for all intents and purposes.
  • It breaks One feature, one OSM element: A runway with two blast pads mapped in this fashion (i.e. aeroway=runway + runway=blast_pad) will cause queries to overstate the number of runway features. In having to consider contiguous segments of runway, this tagging more closely resembles that of roads, except the wiki article doesn't currently mention these semantics.
  • It can break length=*: At least in the examples I encountered, the runway was split and the length tag retained as-is, meaning that, in the end, there were three aeroway=runway segments with the full length of the runway in each.
  • It could be interpreted to be tagging for the renderer.

It would be great if what can come out of this is some discussion aimed at a bit of consensus and subsequently more content to the How to Map section of the Wiki, more specifically where an aeroway=runway feature should being and end wrt. runway markings (i.e. make explicit reference to special cases: displaced thresholds, taxiways aligned with the runway & blast pads for more consistent mapping). Needless to say I am of the opinion that these sections aren't runways (they're not designed for landing or take-off) and should therefore not be tagged with aeroway=runway. If the current tagging is supported by the community, then please document the semantics so that it is clear to (any?) consumers.

The response I got from the changeset author mentioned a proposal about the tag, but I wasn't able to find any such proposal. I also got "osm has more severe errors than this one" in the answer from the author; hopefully there are better arguments in favor of using that tagging :)

--Carciofo (talk) 17:57, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

I looked up variations of blast_pad on taginfo. The generally accepted and documented term for these areas is a stopway, and use of the term aeroway=stopway far outnumbers that of 'blast_pad' or 'overrun', which are the other two terms in the wild that are used for it. I have documented the (as of now over 500) uses of aeroway=stopway, all done as ways. Skybunny (talk) 21:51, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
One issue in favor of blast_pad is that in the US FAA airport diagrams, blast pads are often explicitly diagrammed and given dimensions. Whereas I have never seen anything listed as a stopway. In addition there are Engineered materials arrestor systems (EMAS) that are diagrammed by the FAA and would fit more semantically as stopways. --DoctorSpeck (talk) 17:28, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

Remote runways - little to no services

Remote runways may not justify the application of aerodrome tags as they lack the service facilities. Typically they are unpaved, might have a wind sock and some white cones to make the boundaries. I see no reason not to use the tagging of runway without aerodrome tags. Warin61 (talk) 02:07, 16 October 2017 (UTC)

By definition "aerodrome" is A defined area on land or water (including any buildings, installations and equipment) intended to be used either wholly or in part for the arrival, departure and surface movement of aircraft (ICAO ANNEX 14 1.1), This definition is independent of having facilities, pavement, grass or water or how as defined his boundaries. I think that mapping and tagging or not this aerodromes depends more on the time that collaborators can devote to the project, than on the relevance of them.--Mnts (talk) 00:22, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

Suggestion to tag disused runways as a meadow

I've removed the following sentence from the Lifecycle section:

It has been suggested to additionally tag disused or abandoned runways with eg natural=meadow so they are rendered.

This is clearly tagging for the renderer. Since no sourcing was provided as to where this was "suggested" either, I can only take the statement at face value without considering any background or related information. --Carciofo (talk) 09:25, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

Runways for RC model aircraft

How to tag (typically very small) runways specifically for remote control model aircraft?

Reuse usage=* ?

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Gorm (talkcontribs) 21:53, 16 May 2018‎

See sport=model_aerodrome. --Carciofo (talk) 17:30, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Runway width

For background, please see:
The question was raised as to what "width" refers to, as the OP had data saying that the runway is 40m wide, but measuring it on imagery showed only ~22m.
I posed the question to a pilot I know, whose full response is in the list message, but TLDR (he is Australian so there may be some change to this internationally?):

There are 2 separate measurements Runway Width (RW) and Runway Strip Width (RWS). RW is the width of the bitumen / mown grass, RWS includes the clear verges, allowing for wing overhang, often marked by white cones.

So, I'm suggesting that we define "width" as the RW (bitumen / mown).

Should we also have a separate "width:strip=" (?) for the cleared RWS? --Fizzie41 (talk) 03:42, 28 January 2021 (UTC)

It might be a bit strong to say that we can "define" a tag to mean something. But I believe that you are correct that most mappers are using the width=* tag on aeroway=runway for the width of the physical runway surface: in the case of a paved runway this is almost always the width of the actual pavement. For an unpaved runway the width is less clear is some cases, but if there is a gravel surface or other change in surface this is usually what is mapped. For grass runways it can be quite difficult to map an accurate width, in my experience mapping many small grass airstrips in Indonesia. --Jeisenbe (talk) 07:30, 28 January 2021 (UTC)