Mon . 18 Dec 2018


airport shuttle service, airport
An airport is an aerodrome with facilities for flights to take off and land Airports often have facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control tower An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off or a helipad, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals Larger airports may have fixed-base operator services, airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services

An airport with a helipad for rotorcraft but no runway is called a heliport An airport for use by seaplanes and amphibious aircraft is called a seaplane base Such a base typically includes a stretch of open water for takeoffs and landings, and seaplane docks for tying-up

An international airport has additional facilities for customs and passport control

In warfare, airports can become the focus of intense fighting, for example the Battle of Tripoli Airport or the Battle for Donetsk Airport, both taking place in 2014 An airport primarily for military use is called an airbase or air station

Most of the world's airports are owned by local, regional, or national government bodies


  • 1 Landside and airside areas
  • 2 Air traffic control presence
  • 3 Terminology
  • 4 Infrastructure
    • 41 Airport ownership and operation
    • 42 Airport structures
    • 43 Products and services
    • 44 Premium and VIP services
    • 45 Cargo and freight services
    • 46 Support services
    • 47 Airport access
    • 48 Internal transport
    • 49 History and development
  • 5 Airport designation and naming
  • 6 Airport security
  • 7 Airport operations
    • 71 Air traffic control
    • 72 Traffic pattern
    • 73 Navigational aids
    • 74 Taxiway signs
    • 75 Lighting
    • 76 Weather observations
    • 77 Safety management
  • 8 Airport ground crew Ground Handling
  • 9 Environmental concerns and sustainability
  • 10 Military airbase
  • 11 Airports in entertainment
    • 111 Filming at airports
  • 12 Airport directories
  • 13 See also
  • 14 References
  • 15 External links

Landside and airside areas

Airports are divided into landside and airside Landside includes parking lots, public transport railway stations and access roads Airside includes all areas accessible to aircraft, including runways, taxiways and ramps Passage between landside and airside is tightly controlled at all airports To access airside, one must go through Security, and if applicable, Passport Control too This applies to everyone, including staff

Most major airports provide commercial outlets for products and services Airports may also contain premium and VIP services The premium and VIP services may include express check-in and dedicated check-in counters In addition to people, airports move cargo around the clock Many large airports are located near railway trunk routes

Air traffic control presence

Commercial jets wait for the "7am hold" to pass before departing from John Wayne Airport, Feb 14, 2015

The majority of the world's airports are non-towered, with no air traffic control presence Busy airports have air traffic control ATC system All airports use a traffic pattern to assure smooth traffic flow between departing and arriving aircraft There are a number of aids available to pilots, though not all airports are equipped with them Many airports have lighting that help guide planes using the runways and taxiways at night or in rain, snow, or fog In the US and Canada, the vast majority of airports, large and small, will either have some form of automated airport weather station, a human observer or a combination of the two Air safety is an important concern in the operation of an airport, and airports often have their own safety services


Air bridges at Oslo Airport from an Icelandair Boeing 757-200

The terms aerodrome, airfield, and airstrip may also be used to refer to airports, and the terms heliport, seaplane base, and STOLport refer to airports dedicated exclusively to helicopters, seaplanes, or short take-off and landing aircraft

In colloquial use, the terms airport and aerodrome are often interchanged However, in general, the term airport may imply or confer a certain stature upon the aviation facility that an aerodrome may not have achieved In some jurisdictions, airport is a legal term of art reserved exclusively for those aerodromes certified or licensed as airports by the relevant national aviation authority after meeting specified certification criteria or regulatory requirements

That is to say, all airports are aerodromes, but not all aerodromes are airports In jurisdictions where there is no legal distinction between aerodrome and airport, which term to use in the name of an aerodrome may be a commercial decision Aerodrome is uncommon in the United States


The passenger terminal buildings at Incheon International Airport, Incheon, South Korea

Smaller or less-developed airports, which represent the vast majority, often have a single runway shorter than 1,000 m 3,300 ft Larger airports for airline flights generally have paved runways 2,000 m 6,600 ft or longer Many small airports have dirt, grass, or gravel runways, rather than asphalt or concrete

In the United States, the minimum dimensions for dry, hard landing fields are defined by the FAR Landing And Takeoff Field Lengths These include considerations for safety margins during landing and takeoff Heavier aircraft require longer runways

The longest public-use runway in the world is at Qamdo Bangda Airport in China It has a length of 5,500 m 18,045 ft The world's widest paved runway is at Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport in Russia and is 105 m 344 ft wide

As of 2009, the CIA stated that there were approximately 44,000 " airports or airfields recognizable from the air" around the world, including 15,095 in the US, the US having the most in the world

Airport ownership and operation

The Berlin Brandenburg Airport is publicly financed by the states of Berlin and Brandenburg and the Federal Republic of Germany

Most of the world's airports are owned by local, regional, or national government bodies who then lease the airport to private corporations who oversee the airport's operation For example, in the United Kingdom the state-owned British Airports Authority originally operated eight of the nation's major commercial airports - it was subsequently privatized in the late 1980s, and following its takeover by the Spanish Ferrovial consortium in 2006, has been further divested and downsized to operating just Heathrow now Germany's Frankfurt Airport is managed by the quasi-private firm Fraport While in India GMR Group operates, through joint ventures, Indira Gandhi International Airport and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport Bengaluru International Airport and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport are controlled by GVK Group The rest of India's airports are managed by the Airports Authority of India

In the United States commercial airports are generally operated directly by government entities or government-created airport authorities also known as port authorities, such as the Los Angeles World Airports authority that oversees several airports in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Los Angeles International Airport

In Canada, the federal authority, Transport Canada, divested itself of all but the remotest airports in 1999/2000 Now most airports in Canada are owned and operated by individual legal authorities or are municipally owned

Many US airports still lease part or all of their facilities to outside firms, who operate functions such as retail management and parking In the US, all commercial airport runways are certified by the FAA under the Code of Federal Regulations Title 14 Part 139, "Certification of Commercial Service Airports" but maintained by the local airport under the regulatory authority of the FAA

Despite the reluctance to privatize airports in the US despite the FAA sponsoring a privatization program since 1996, the government-owned, contractor-operated GOCO arrangement is the standard for the operation of commercial airports in the rest of the world

Airport structures

Play media Terminal structures at Sheremetyevo International Airport

Airports are divided into landside and airside areas Landside areas include parking lots, public transportation train stations and access roads Airside areas include all areas accessible to aircraft, including runways, taxiways and aprons Access from landside areas to airside areas is tightly controlled at most airports Passengers on commercial flights access airside areas through terminals, where they can purchase tickets, clear security check, or claim luggage and board aircraft through gates The waiting areas which provide passenger access to aircraft are typically called concourses, although this term is often used interchangeably with terminal

The apron from the top floor observation room, Halifax International Airport, Canada

The area where aircraft park next to a terminal to load passengers and baggage is known as a ramp or incorrectly, "the tarmac" Parking areas for aircraft away from terminals are called aprons

Airports can be towered or non-towered, depending on air traffic density and available funds Due to their high capacity and busy airspace, many international airports have air traffic control located on site

Airports with international flights have customs and immigration facilities However, as some countries have agreements that allow travel between them without customs and immigrations, such facilities are not a definitive need for an international airport International flights often require a higher level of physical security, although in recent years, many countries have adopted the same level of security for international and domestic travel

Some airport structures include on-site hotels built within or attached to a terminal building Airport hotels have grown popular due to their convenience for transient passengers and easy accessibility to the airport terminal Many airport hotels also have agreements with airlines to provide overnight lodging for displaced passengers

"Floating airports" are being designed which could be located out at sea and which would use designs such as pneumatic stabilized platform technology

Products and services

International Airport Lane in Mumbai Food court and shops, Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Canada Duty-free shop at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand

Most major airports provide commercial outlets for products and services Most of these companies, many of which are internationally known brands, are located within the departure areas These include clothing boutiques and restaurants Prices charged for items sold at these outlets are generally higher than those outside the airport However, some airports now regulate costs to keep them comparable to "street prices" This term is misleading as prices often match the manufacturers' suggested retail price MSRP but are almost never discounted

Apart from major fast food chains, some airport restaurants offer regional cuisine specialties for those in transit so that they may sample local food or culture without leaving the airport

Major airports in such countries as Russia and Japan offer miniature sleeping units within the airport that are available for rent by the hour The smallest type is the capsule hotel popular in Japan A slightly larger variety is known as a sleep box An even larger type is provided by the company YOTEL

Premium and VIP services

Shahjalal International Airport's VIP Terminal, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Airports may also contain premium and VIP services The premium and VIP services may include express check-in and dedicated check-in counters These services are usually reserved for First and Business class passengers, premium frequent flyers, and members of the airline's clubs Premium services may sometimes be open to passengers who are members of a different airline's frequent flyer program This can sometimes be part of a reciprocal deal, as when multiple airlines are part of the same alliance, or as a ploy to attract premium customers away from rival airlines

Sometimes these premium services will be offered to a non-premium passenger if the airline has made a mistake in handling of the passenger, such as unreasonable delays or mishandling of checked baggage

Airline lounges frequently offer free or reduced cost food, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages Lounges themselves typically have seating, showers, quiet areas, televisions, computer, Wi-Fi and Internet access, and power outlets that passengers may use for their electronic equipment Some airline lounges employ baristas, bartenders and gourmet chefs

Airlines sometimes operate multiple lounges within the one airport terminal allowing ultra-premium customers, such as first class customers, additional services, which are not available to other premium customers Multiple lounges may also prevent overcrowding of the lounge facilities

Cargo and freight services

In addition to people, airports move cargo around the clock Cargo airlines often have their own on-site and adjacent infrastructure to transfer parcels between ground and air

Cargo Terminal Facilities are areas where international airports export cargo has to be stored after customs clearance and prior to loading on the aircraft Similarly import cargo that is offloaded needs to be in bond before the consignee decides to take delivery Areas have to be kept aside for examination of export and import cargo by the airport authorities Designated areas or sheds may be given to airlines or freight forward ring agencies

Every cargo terminal has a landside and an airside The landside is where the exporters and importers through either their agents or by themselves deliver or collect shipments while the airside is where loads are moved to or from the aircraft In addition cargo terminals are divided into distinct areas – export, import and interline or transhipment

Support services

Recife International Airport in Recife, Brazil

Aircraft and Passenger Boarding Bridges Maintenance, Pilot Operations, Commissioning, Training Services, aircraft rental, and hangar rental are most often performed by a fixed-base operator FBO At major airports, particularly those used as hubs, airlines may operate their own support facilities

Some airports, typically military airbases, have long runways used as emergency landing sites Many airbases have arresting equipment for fast aircraft, known as arresting gear – a strong cable suspended just above the runway and attached to a hydraulic reduction gear mechanism Together with the landing aircraft's arresting hook, it is used in situations where the aircraft's brakes would be insufficient by themselves

In the United States, many larger civilian airports also host an Air National Guard base

Airport access

Many large airports are located near railway trunk routes for seamless connection of multimodal transport, for instance Frankfurt Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport and London Stansted Airport It is also common to connect an airport and a city with rapid transit, light rail lines or other non-road public transport systems Some examples of this would include the AirTrain JFK at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, Link Light Rail that runs from the heart of downtown Seattle to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, and the Silver Line T at Boston's Logan International Airport by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority MBTA Such a connection lowers risk of missed flights due to traffic congestion Large airports usually have access also through controlled-access highways 'freeways' or 'motorways' from which motor vehicles enter either the departure loop or the arrival loop

Internal transport

The distances passengers need to move within a large airport can be substantial It is common for airports to provide moving walkways and buses The Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport has a tram that takes people through the concourses and baggage claim Major airports with more than one terminal offer inter-terminal transportation, such as Mexico City International Airport, where the domestic building of Terminal 1 is connected by Aerotrén to Terminal 2, on the other side of the airport

History and development

The Kharkiv Airport in Sokolniki, Ukraine 1924

The earliest aircraft takeoff and landing sites were grassy fields The plane could approach at any angle that provided a favorable wind direction A slight improvement was the dirt-only field, which eliminated the drag from grass However, these only functioned well in dry conditions Later, concrete surfaces would allow landings, rain or shine, day or night

The title of "world's oldest airport" is disputed, but College Park Airport in Maryland, US, established in 1909 by Wilbur Wright, is generally agreed to be the world's oldest continually operating airfield, although it serves only general aviation traffic Bisbee-Douglas International Airport in Arizona was declared "the first international airport of the Americas" by US president Franklin D Roosevelt in 1943 Pearson Field Airport in Vancouver, Washington had a dirigible land in 1905 and planes in 1911 and is still in use Bremen Airport opened in 1913 and remains in use, although it served as an American military field between 1945 and 1949 Amsterdam Airport Schiphol opened on September 16, 1916 as a military airfield, but only accepted civil aircraft from December 17, 1920, allowing Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia—which started operations in January 1920—to claim to be one of the world's oldest continually operating commercial airports Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, opened in 1920 and has been in continuous commercial service since It serves about 35,000,000 passengers each year and continues to expand, recently opening a new 11,000 foot 3,355 meter runway Of the airports constructed during this early period in aviation, it is one of the largest and busiest that is still currently operating Rome Ciampino Airport, opened 1916, is also a contender, as well as the Don Mueang International Airport near Bangkok, Thailand, which opened in 1914 Increased aircraft traffic during World War I led to the construction of landing fields Aircraft had to approach these from certain directions and this led to the development of aids for directing the approach and landing slope

The New Orleans International Airport passenger terminal building in New Orleans 1960s

Following the war, some of these military airfields added civil facilities for handling passenger traffic One of the earliest such fields was Paris – Le Bourget Airport at Le Bourget, near Paris The first airport to operate scheduled international commercial services was Hounslow Heath Aerodrome in August 1919, but it was closed and supplanted by Croydon Airport in March 1920 In 1922, the first permanent airport and commercial terminal solely for commercial aviation was opened at Flughafen Devau near what was then Königsberg, East Prussia The airports of this era used a paved "apron", which permitted night flying as well as landing heavier aircraft

The first lighting used on an airport was during the latter part of the 1920s; in the 1930s approach lighting came into use These indicated the proper direction and angle of descent The colours and flash intervals of these lights became standardized under the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO In the 1940s, the slope-line approach system was introduced This consisted of two rows of lights that formed a funnel indicating an aircraft's position on the glideslope Additional lights indicated incorrect altitude and direction

The Bender Qassim International Airport in Bosaso, Somalia 2007

After World War II, airport design became more sophisticated Passenger buildings were being grouped together in an island, with runways arranged in groups about the terminal This arrangement permitted expansion of the facilities But it also meant that passengers had to travel further to reach their plane

An improvement in the landing field was the introduction of grooves in the concrete surface These run perpendicular to the direction of the landing aircraft and serve to draw off excess water in rainy conditions that could build up in front of the plane's wheels

Airport construction boomed during the 1960s with the increase in jet aircraft traffic Runways were extended out to 3,000 m 9,800 ft The fields were constructed out of reinforced concrete using a slip-form machine that produces a continual slab with no disruptions along the length The early 1960s also saw the introduction of jet bridge systems to modern airport terminals, an innovation which eliminated outdoor passenger boarding These systems became commonplace in the United States by the 1970s

Airport designation and naming

Further information: List of airports

Airports are uniquely represented by their IATA airport code and ICAO airport code

Most airport names include the location Many airport names honour a public figure, commonly a politician eg Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, a celebrity such as in Liverpool John Lennon Airport or a prominent figure in aviation history of the region eg Will Rogers World Airport

Some airports have unofficial names, possibly so widely circulated that its official name is little used or even known

Some airport names include the word "International" to indicate their ability to handle international air traffic This includes some airports that do not have scheduled airline services eg Texel International Airport

Airport security

Main article: Airport security Baggage is scanned using X-ray machines as passengers walk through metal detectors

Airport security normally requires baggage checks, metal screenings of individual persons, and rules against any object that could be used as a weapon Since the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Real ID Act of 2005, airport security has dramatically increased and got tighter and stricter then ever before

See also: Airport security repercussions due to the September 11 attacks

Airport operations

Air traffic control

Airport tower

A towered airport has an operating control tower that is responsible for overseeing the safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic at airports Aircraft are required to maintain two-way radio communication with air traffic controllers, and to acknowledge and comply with their instructions Nontowered airport have no operating control tower and therefore two-way radio communications are not required, though it is good operating practice for pilots to transmit their intentions on the airport’s common traffic advisory frequency CTAF for the benefit of other aircraft in the area The CTAF may be a Universal Integrated Community UNICOM, MULTICOM, Flight Service Station FSS, or tower frequency

The majority of the world's airports are non-towered, with no air traffic control presence However, at particularly busy airports, or airports with other special requirements, there is an air traffic control ATC system whereby controllers usually ground-based direct aircraft movements via radio or other communications links This coordinated oversight facilitates safety and speed in complex operations where traffic moves in all three dimensions Air traffic control responsibilities at airports are usually divided into at least two main areas: ground and tower, though a single controller may work both stations The busiest airports also have clearance delivery, apron control, and other specialized ATC stations

Ground Control is responsible for directing all ground traffic in designated "movement areas", except the traffic on runways This includes planes, baggage trains, snowplows, grass cutters, fuel trucks, stair trucks, airline food trucks, conveyor belt vehicles and other vehicles Ground Control will instruct these vehicles on which taxiways to use, which runway they will use in the case of planes, where they will park, and when it is safe to cross runways When a plane is ready to takeoff it will stop short of the runway, at which point it will be turned over to Tower Control After a plane has landed, it will depart the runway and be returned to Ground Control

Tower Control controls aircraft on the runway and in the controlled airspace immediately surrounding the airport Tower controllers may use radar to locate an aircraft's position in three-dimensional space, or they may rely on pilot position reports and visual observation They coordinate the sequencing of aircraft in the traffic pattern and direct aircraft on how to safely join and leave the circuit Aircraft which are only passing through the airspace must also contact Tower Control in order to be sure that they remain clear of other traffic

Traffic pattern

Main article: Airfield traffic pattern

At all airports the use of a traffic pattern often called a traffic circuit outside the US is possible They may help to assure smooth traffic flow between departing and arriving aircraft There is no technical need within modern aviation for performing this pattern, provided there is no queue And due to the so-called SLOT-times, the overall traffic planning tend to assure landing queues are avoided If for instance an aircraft approaches runway 17 which has a heading of approx 170 degrees from the north coming from 360/0 degrees heading towards 180 degrees, the aircraft will land as fast as possible by just turning 10 degrees and follow the glidepath, without orbit the runway for visual reasons, whenever this is possible For smaller piston engined airplanes at smaller airfields without ILS equipment, things are very different though

Generally, this pattern is a circuit consisting of five "legs" that form a rectangle two legs and the runway form one side, with the remaining legs forming three more sides Each leg is named see diagram, and ATC directs pilots on how to join and leave the circuit Traffic patterns are flown at one specific altitude, usually 800 or 1,000 ft 244 or 305 m above ground level AGL Standard traffic patterns are left-handed, meaning all turns are made to the left One of the main reason for this is that pilots sit on the left side of the airplane, and a Left-hand patterns improves their visibility of the airport and pattern Right-handed patterns do exist, usually because of obstacles such as a mountain, or to reduce noise for local residents The predetermined circuit helps traffic flow smoothly because all pilots know what to expect, and helps reduce the chance of a mid-air collision

At extremely large airports, a circuit is in place but not usually used Rather, aircraft usually only commercial with long routes request approach clearance while they are still hours away from the airport, often before they even take off from their departure point Large airports have a frequency called Clearance Delivery which is used by departing aircraft specifically for this purpose This then allows aircraft to take the most direct approach path to the runway and land without worrying about interference from other aircraft While this system keeps the airspace free and is simpler for pilots, it requires detailed knowledge of how aircraft are planning to use the airport ahead of time and is therefore only possible with large commercial airliners on pre-scheduled flights The system has recently become so advanced that controllers can predict whether an aircraft will be delayed on landing before it even takes off; that aircraft can then be delayed on the ground, rather than wasting expensive fuel waiting in the air

Navigational aids

Standard visual approach slope indicator

There are a number of aids available to pilots, though not all airports are equipped with them A visual approach slope indicator VASI helps pilots fly the approach for landing Some airports are equipped with a VHF omnidirectional range VOR to help pilots find the direction to the airport VORs are often accompanied by a distance measuring equipment DME to determine the distance to the VOR VORs are also located off airports, where they serve to provide airways for aircraft to navigate upon In poor weather, pilots will use an instrument landing system ILS to find the runway and fly the correct approach, even if they cannot see the ground The number of instrument approaches based on the use of the Global Positioning System GPS is rapidly increasing and may eventually be the primary means for instrument landings

Larger airports sometimes offer precision approach radar PAR, but these systems are more common at military air bases than civilian airports The aircraft's horizontal and vertical movement is tracked via radar, and the controller tells the pilot his position relative to the approach slope Once the pilots can see the runway lights, they may continue with a visual landing

Taxiway signs

Further information: Taxiway § Taxiway signs

Airport guidance signs provide direction and information to taxiing aircraft and airport vehicles Smaller aerodromes may have few or no signs, relying instead on diagrams and charts


Further information: Taxiway § Taxiway lights, and Runway § Runway lighting Airport lighting

Many airports have lighting that help guide planes using the runways and taxiways at night or in rain or fog

On runways, green lights indicate the beginning of the runway for landing, while red lights indicate the end of the runway Runway edge lighting consists of white lights spaced out on both sides of the runway, indicating the edge Some airports have more complicated lighting on the runways including lights that run down the centerline of the runway and lights that help indicate the approach an approach lighting system, or ALS Low-traffic airports may use pilot controlled lighting to save electricity and staffing costs

Along taxiways, blue lights indicate the taxiway's edge, and some airports have embedded green lights that indicate the centerline

Weather observations

See also: Surface weather observation, Weather station, Automated airport weather station, and Automatic weather station An automated weather system

Weather observations at the airport are crucial to safe takeoffs and landings In the US and Canada, the vast majority of airports, large and small, will either have some form of automated airport weather station, whether an AWOS, ASOS, or AWSS, a human observer or a combination of the two These weather observations, predominantly in the METAR format, are available over the radio, through automatic terminal information service ATIS, via the ATC or the flight service station

Planes take-off and land into the wind in order to achieve maximum performance Because pilots need instantaneous information during landing, a windsock is also kept in view of the runway

Safety management

"FLF Panther" airport crash tender in Germany Play media Road crossing of Shetland A970 with Sumburgh airport's runway The movable barrier closes when aircraft land or take off

Air safety is an important concern in the operation of an airport, and almost every airfield includes equipment and procedures for handling emergency situations Airport crash tender crews are equipped for dealing with airfield accidents, crew and passenger extractions, and the hazards of highly flammable aviation fuel The crews are also trained to deal with situations such as bomb threats, hijacking, and terrorist activities

Hazards to aircraft include debris, nesting birds, and reduced friction levels due to environmental conditions such as ice, snow, or rain Part of runway maintenance is airfield rubber removal which helps maintain friction levels The fields must be kept clear of debris using cleaning equipment so that loose material does not become a projectile and enter an engine duct see foreign object damage In adverse weather conditions, ice and snow clearing equipment can be used to improve traction on the landing strip For waiting aircraft, equipment is used to spray special deicing fluids on the wings

Many airports are built near open fields or wetlands These tend to attract bird populations, which can pose a hazard to aircraft in the form of bird strikes Airport crews often need to discourage birds from taking up residence

Some airports are located next to parks, golf courses, or other low-density uses of land Other airports are located near densely populated urban or suburban areas

An airport can have areas where collisions between aircraft on the ground tend to occur Records are kept of any incursions where aircraft or vehicles are in an inappropriate location, allowing these "hot spots" to be identified These locations then undergo special attention by transportation authorities such as the FAA in the US and airport administrators

During the 1980s, a phenomenon known as microburst became a growing concern due to aircraft accidents caused by microburst wind shear, such as Delta Air Lines Flight 191 Microburst radar was developed as an aid to safety during landing, giving two to five minutes warning to aircraft in the vicinity of the field of a microburst event

Some airfields now have a special surface known as soft concrete at the end of the runway stopway or blastpad that behaves somewhat like styrofoam, bringing the plane to a relatively rapid halt as the material disintegrates These surfaces are useful when the runway is located next to a body of water or other hazard, and prevent the planes from overrunning the end of the field

Airport ground crew Ground Handling

Main article: Ground support equipment An aircraft tow tractor moving a KLM Boeing 777 Ground operations at Berlin Tegel Airport

Most airports have groundcrew handling the loading and unloading of passengers, crew, baggage and other services Some groundcrew are linked to specific airlines operating at the airport

Many ground crew at the airport work at the aircraft A tow tractor pulls the aircraft to one of the airbridges, The ground power unit is plugged in It keeps the electricity running in the plane when it stands at the terminal The engines are not working, therefore they do not generate the electricity, as they do in flight The passengers disembark using the airbridge Mobile stairs can give the ground crew more access to the aircraft's cabin There is a cleaning service to clean the aircraft after the aircraft lands Flight catering provides the food and drinks on flights A toilet waste truck removes the human waste from the tank which holds the waste from the toilets in the aircraft A water truck fills the water tanks of the aircraft A fuel transfer vehicle transfers aviation fuel from fuel tanks underground, to the aircraft tanks A tractor and its dollies bring in luggage from the terminal to the aircraft They also carry luggage to the terminal if the aircraft has landed, and is being unloaded Hi-loaders lift the heavy luggage containers to the gate of the cargo hold The ground crew push the luggage containers into the hold If it has landed, they rise, the ground crew push the luggage container on the hi-loader, which carries it down The luggage container is then pushed on one of the tractors dollies The conveyor, which is a conveyor belt on a truck, brings in the awkwardly shaped, or late luggage The airbridge is used again by the new passengers to embark the aircraft The tow tractor pushes the aircraft away from the terminal to a taxi area The length of time an aircraft remains on the ground in between consecutive flights is known as "turnaround time" Airlines pay great attention to minimizing turnaround times in an effort to keep aircraft utilization flying time high, with times scheduled as low as 25 minutes for jet aircraft operated by low-cost carriers on narrow-body aircraft

Environmental concerns and sustainability

Runway in Congonhas-São Paulo Airport in Brazil

Aircraft noise is a major cause of noise disturbance to residents living near airports Sleep can be affected if the airports operate night and early morning flights Aircraft noise not only occurs from take-off and landings, but also ground operations including maintenance and testing of aircraft Noise can have other noise health effects Other noise and environmental concerns are vehicle traffic causing noise and pollution on roads leading the airport

The construction of new airports or addition of runways to existing airports, is often resisted by local residents because of the effect on countryside, historical sites, local flora and fauna Due to the risk of collision between birds and aircraft, large airports undertake population control programs where they frighten or shoot birds

The construction of airports has been known to change local weather patterns For example, because they often flatten out large areas, they can be susceptible to fog in areas where fog rarely forms In addition, they generally replace trees and grass with pavement, they often change drainage patterns in agricultural areas, leading to more flooding, run-off and erosion in the surrounding land

Some of the airport administrations prepare and publish annual environmental reports in order to show how they consider these environmental concerns in airport management issues and how they protect environment from airport operations These reports contain all environmental protection measures performed by airport administration in terms of water, air, soil and noise pollution, resource conservation and protection of natural life around the airport

The world's first airport to be fully powered by solar energy is located at Kochi, India Another airport known for considering environmental parameters is the Seymour Airport at Galapagos Islands

Military airbase

Main article: Military airbase Fighter aircraft at an airbase in Lithuania

An airbase, sometimes referred to as an air station or airfield, provides basing and support of military aircraft Some airbases, known as military airports, provide facilities similar to their civilian counterparts For example, RAF Brize Norton in the UK has a terminal which caters to passengers for the Royal Air Force's scheduled TriStar flights to the Falkland Islands Some airbases are co-located with civilian airports, sharing the same ATC facilities, runways, taxiways and emergency services, but with separate terminals, parking areas and hangars Bardufoss Airport, Bardufoss Air Station in Norway and Pune Airport in India are examples of this

An aircraft carrier is a warship that functions as a mobile airbase Aircraft carriers allow a naval force to project air power without having to depend on local bases for land-based aircraft After their development in World War I, aircraft carriers replaced the battleship as the centrepiece of a modern fleet during World War II

Airports in entertainment

Washington Dulles International Airport, ostensibly the setting for Die Hard 2; the movie was actually filmed at Los Angeles International Airport

Airports have played major roles in films and television programs due to their very nature as a transport and international hub, and sometimes because of distinctive architectural features of particular airports One such example of this is The Terminal, a film about a man who becomes permanently grounded in an airport terminal and must survive only on the food and shelter provided by the airport They are also one of the major elements in movies such as The VIPs, Airplane!, Airport 1970, Die Hard 2, Soul Plane, Jackie Brown, Get Shorty, Home Alone, Liar Liar, Passenger 57, Final Destination 2000, Unaccompanied Minors, Catch Me If You Can, Rendition and The Langoliers They have also played important parts in television series like Lost, The Amazing Race, America's Next Top Model, Cycle 10 which have significant parts of their story set within airports In other programmes and films, airports are merely indicative of journeys, eg Good Will Hunting

Several computer simulation games put the player in charge of an airport These include the Airport Tycoon series

Filming at airports

See also: Aircraft spotting

Most airports welcome filming on site, although it must be agreed in advance and may be subject to a fee Landside, filming can take place in all public areas However airside, filming is sometimes heavily restricted To film in an airside location, all visitors must go through security, the same as passengers, and be accompanied by a full airside pass holder and have photographic identification with them at all times Filming is sometimes restricted in Security, Immigration/Customs or Baggage Reclaim areas

Airport directories

See also: National aviation authority, List of civil aviation authorities, and Aeronautical Information Service

Each national aviation authority has a source of information about airports in their country This will contain information on airport elevation, airport lighting, runway information, communications facilities and frequencies, hours of operation, nearby NAVAIDs and contact information where prior arrangement for landing is necessary

  • Australia
Information can be found on-line in the En route Supplement Australia ERSA which is published by Airservices Australia, a government owned corporation charged with managing Australian ATC
  • Brazil

Infraero is responsible for the airports in Brazil

  • Canada
Two publications, the Canada Flight Supplement CFS and the Water Aerodrome Supplement, published by NAV CANADA under the authority of Transport Canada provides equivalent information
  • Europe
The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation EUROCONTROL provides an Aeronautical Information Publication AIP, aeronautical charts and NOTAM services for multiple European countries
  • Germany
Provided by the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt Federal Office for Civil Aviation of Germany
  • France
Aviation Generale Delage edited by Delville and published by Breitling
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland
The information is found in Pooley's Flight Guide, a publication compiled with the assistance of the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority CAA Pooley's also contains information on some continental European airports that are close to Great Britain National Air Traffic Services, the UK's Air Navigation Service Provider, a public–private partnership also publishes an online AIP for the UK
  • The United States
The US uses the Airport/Facility Directory A/FD, published in seven volumes DAFIF also includes extensive airport data
  • Japan
Aeronautical Information Publication AIP is provided by Japan Aeronautical Information Service Center, under the authority of Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan
  • A comprehensive, consumer/business directory of commercial airports in the world primarily for airports as businesses, rather than for pilots is organized by the trade group Airports Council International

See also

  • Aviation portal
  • Airport terminal
  • Domestic airport
  • Environmental impact of aviation
  • Model airport
  • World's busiest airport


  • Index of aviation articles
  • List of cities with more than one airport
  • List of countries without an airport
  • List of hub airports


  1. ^ Wragg, D; Historical dictionary of aviation, History Press 2008
  2. ^ "Airport - Definition of airport by Merriam-Webster" Retrieved 1 September 2015 
  3. ^ "Runway - Definition of runway by Merriam-Webster" Retrieved 1 September 2015 
  4. ^ "Helipad - Definition of helipad by Merriam-Webster" Retrieved 1 September 2015 
  5. ^ "Hangar - Definition of hangar by Merriam-Webster" Retrieved 1 September 2015 
  6. ^ Canada Flight Supplement Effective 0901Z 15 September 2016 to 0901Z 10 November 2016
  7. ^ "The World Factbook" Retrieved 1 September 2015 
  8. ^ "The World Factbook" Retrieved 1 September 2015 
  9. ^ "FAA" Retrieved 1 September 2015 
  10. ^ "Part 139 Airport Certification" FAA 2009-06-19 Archived from the original on 29 July 2010 Retrieved 2010-07-20 
  11. ^ USA Today newspaper, Oct 17, 2006, p 2D
  12. ^ "College Park Airport" Pgparkscom Archived from the original on May 31, 2009 Retrieved 2010-07-20 
  13. ^ "Sydney Airport history" PDF Retrieved 2010-07-20 
  14. ^ Don Mueang International Airport
  15. ^ Bluffield 2009
  16. ^ "En route Supplement Australia ERSA" Airservicesgovau 2010-07-16 Retrieved 2010-07-20 
  17. ^ "Aeronautical Information Publication AIP, NOTAMs in Japan" Japan Civil Aviation Bureau Archived from the original on 2011-07-22 Retrieved 2011-02-14 
  • Bluffield, Robert 2009 Imperial Airways – The Birth of the British Airline Industry 1914–1940 Ian Allan ISBN 978-1-906537-07-4
  • Salter, Mark 2008 Politics at the Airport University of Minnesota Press This book brings together leading scholars to examine how airports both shape and are shaped by current political, social, and economic conditions
  • Lopez, Donald S "The inside Story Airports" Flight Alexandria, VA: Time-Life, 1995 36–37 Print

External links

  • Airport Safety Challenges related to Ground Operations
  • Airport Railways of the World Interactive resource of over 300 airports with rail links available in 5 European languages
  • "Conquest of Fog" Popular Mechanics, February 1930, illustration and article on a modern airport in the 1930s
  • Airport Distance Calculator – Research and Innovative Technology Administration RITA in US Department of Transportation
  • Airport Search A comprehensive list of world's airports
  • Map of worldwide airports
  • Aviation portal

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