I came across an interesting video showing research and simulations that are taking place that suggest that a circular, banked runway (Think race track style) is better, safer, and more environmentally sound.
The research is being conduct at The Netherlands Aerospace Center and several advantages are being discovered with a 360 degree runway. One being the idea that you can micro-tune approaches and departures to account for wind conditions; eliminating all those enjoyable cross-wind landings we like to watch on Youtube. The research suggests that you can have 3 aircraft departing and or arriving at the same time which would reduce congestion at major airports. Also with a circular runway, aircraft would spend less time in the air holding patterns over airports which in turn would reduce air and noise pollution near the airports.
Here is the video (Courtesy of BBC) explaining the concept along with simulator work showing the effectiveness of the idea. (PS, if any of you use X-Plane 10 or 11, there’s a circular airport that is available….and it’s a blast!).