Cork Airport in Ireland has renamed its main runway to adjust to changes to the Earth’s magnetic poles.

Formerly known as Runway 17/35, the re-designated runway is now called Runway 16/34, due to shifts in the magnetic poles over the last 57 years since it was first designated in 1961.

The new name indicates the runway’s latest magnetic headings, which stand at 164°M and 344°M, respectively.

“We are delighted to complete the renumbering overnight without any delay to our busy first wave of departing flights.”

Renaming of the runway is said to be vital because the aviation industry depends on magnetic compasses for navigation, alongside GPS instruments.

Cork Airport Operations and Safety general manager Con Dooney said: “Cork’s two-digit runway designator is crucial for pilots during take-off, landing and taxiing.

“Thanks to the coordinated efforts by Cork Airport and the Irish Aviation Authority, we are delighted to complete the renumbering overnight without any delay to our busy first wave of departing flights.

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“Work on the actual repainting of the runway numbers started as soon as the final flight landed last night to be finished in time for the first departure this morning at 6am.”

Airport runway numbers change about every 50 years, with the next renaming for Cork Airport scheduled in 2068.

Cork Airport safety lead Nathan Wall added: “This project was initially set in motion two years ago. The repainting of runway numbers is the final step in the process, which has also included the updating of pilot charts and airport directories, along with briefings to air traffic controllers, our Airside Management Unit and colleagues in Airport Operations on the new designation.”