An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for
commercial air transport. 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
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 as well as incorporating all of the aforementioned
elements above. Such airports rank among the most complex and largest
of all built typologies with 15 of the top 50 buildings by floor area
being airport terminals.
In warfare, airports can become the focus of intense fighting, for
Battle of Tripoli Airport
Battle of Tripoli Airport or the Battle for Donetsk
Airport, both taking place in 2014. An aerodrome primarily for
military use is called an airbase (or "Air Base") or air station.
1 Landside and airside areas
Air traffic control
Air traffic control presence
Airport ownership and operation
4.3 Products and services
4.4 Premium and VIP services
4.5 Cargo and freight service
4.6 Support services
4.8 Internal transport
4.9 History and development
Airport designation and naming
7.1 Air traffic control
7.2 Traffic pattern
7.3 Navigational aids
7.7 Safety management
Airport ground crew (Ground Handling)
9 Environmental concerns and sustainability
10 Military airbase
11 Airports in entertainment
11.1 Filming at airports
13 See also
15 External links
Landside and airside areas
Airports are divided into landside and airside. Landside includes
areas such as check-in, parking lots, public transport railway
stations and access roads. Airside includes all areas accessible to
aircraft, including runways, taxiways and aprons/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
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 U.S.
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
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
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
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 Bamda 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
Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport in
Russia and is 105 m (344 ft) wide.
As of 2009[update], 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
Airport ownership and operation
Berlin Brandenburg Airport
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
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 Pakistan nearly all
civilian airports are owned and operated by the Pakistan Civil
Aviation Authority except for
Sialkot International Airport
Sialkot International Airport which has
a distinctions of being the first privately owned public airport in
Pakistan and South Asia.
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
Many U.S. airports still lease part or all of their facilities to
outside firms, who operate functions such as retail management and
parking. In the U.S., all commercial airport runways are certified by
the FAA under the
Code of Federal Regulations
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
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport Terminal 2
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
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
Terminal 2 at Mumbai's Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport.
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.
A growing number of airports are installing solar photovoltaic arrays
to offset their electricity use. The National Renewable Energy
Lab has shown this can be done safely.
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
Products and services
Food court and shops, Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Canada
Duty-free shop at
Suvarnabhumi International Airport
Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok,
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 and in the US amounted to $4.2
billion in 2015. 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
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
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,
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 service
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
Recife International Airport
Recife International Airport in Recife, Brazil.
In the USA, 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
In the United States, many larger civilian airports also host an Air
National Guard base.
The New Delhi International
Airport is accessible via Delhi Metro's
Many large airports are located near railway trunk routes for seamless
connection of multimodal transport, for instance Frankfurt Airport,
Airport Schiphol, London Heathrow Airport, Tokyo Haneda
Airport, Tokyo Narita Airport,
London Gatwick 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
John F. Kennedy International Airport
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
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.
The distances passengers need to move within a large airport can be
substantial. It is common for airports to provide moving walkways and
buses. In 2007,
ThyssenKrupp installed two high-speed walkways in
Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport. They connect the
international gates in the newly opened Pier F, located at one end of
the pier, with the rest of the terminal. One walkway serves departing
passengers travelling towards the gates and the other serves arriving
passengers travelling towards the terminal. The Hartsfield–Jackson
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
Aerotrén to Terminal 2, on the other side of the
History and development
Airport in Sokolniki,
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 regardless of meteorological conditions.
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
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
Pearson Field Airport in Vancouver, Washington,
had a dirigible land in 1905 and planes in 1911 and is still in use.
Hamburg Airport opened in January 1911, making it the oldest
commercial airport in the world which is still in operation. 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
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
World War I
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.
New Orleans International Airport
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
Paris – Le Bourget Airport
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
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
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
Bender Qassim International Airport
Bender Qassim International Airport in Bosaso,
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
Most airport names include the location. Many airport names honour a
public figure, commonly a politician (e.g. Charles de Gaulle Airport),
a monarch like in Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, a
cultural leader such as in
Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Liverpool John Lennon Airport or a
prominent figure in aviation history of the region (e.g. Sydney
Kingsford Smith Airport), sometimes even famous poets (e.g. Allama
Iqbal International 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 international airline services
(e.g. Albany International Airport).
Airport security repercussions due to the September 11
Baggage is scanned using X-ray machines as passengers walk through
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 attacks
September 11 attacks and the Real ID Act of 2005,
airport security has dramatically increased and got tighter and
stricter than ever before.
Air traffic control
A "controlled" or "towered" aerodrome has an operating control tower
that is responsible for overseeing the safe, orderly, and expeditious
flow of air traffic. Pilots 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.
Main article: Airfield traffic pattern
At all airports the use of a traffic pattern (often called a traffic
circuit outside the U.S.) 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.
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
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
Global Positioning System (GPS) is
rapidly increasing and may eventually be the primary means for
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.
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.
Taxiway lights, and Runway
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.
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.
Both shielded and unshielded cable are listed in the specifications
for the power cables on an airport apron ramp.
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
METAR format, are available over the radio, through automatic
terminal information service (ATIS), via the ATC or the flight service
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. Aviation
windsocks are made with lightweight material, withstand strong winds
and are lit up after dark or in foggy weather. Because visibility of
windsocks is limited, often multiple glow-orange windsocks are placed
on both sides of the runway.
"FLF Panther" airport crash tender in Germany
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
Airport crash tender
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
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
Environmental concerns and sustainability
Congonhas-São Paulo Airport
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.[citation
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
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.[citation
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.
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
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
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
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 V.I.P.s,
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
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, e.g.
Good Will Hunting.
Several computer simulation games put the player in charge of an
airport. These include the
Airport Tycoon series, Sim
Filming at airports
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 strictly prohibited in security,
immigration/customs and baggage reclaim.
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.
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.
Infraero is responsible for the airports in Brazil
Two publications, the
Canada Flight Supplement
Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) and the Water
Aerodrome Supplement, published by NAV CANADA under the authority of
Transport Canada provides equivalent information.
The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation
(EUROCONTROL) provides an
Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP),
aeronautical charts and
NOTAM services for multiple European
Provided by the
Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Office for Civil Aviation
Aviation Generale Delage edited by Delville and published by
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 U.S. uses the
Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD), published in
DAFIF also includes extensive airport data but has been
unavailable to the public at large since 2006.
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
Environmental impact of aviation
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
^ Wragg, D.; Historical dictionary of aviation, History Press 2008.
Airport – Definition of airport by Merriam-Webster". Retrieved 1
Runway – Definition of runway by Merriam-Webster". Retrieved 1
Helipad – Definition of helipad by Merriam-Webster". Retrieved 1
Hangar – Definition of hangar by Merriam-Webster". Retrieved 1
^ Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 29 March 2018 to 0901Z 24
^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
^ "FAA". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
^ "Part 139
Airport Certification". FAA. 2009-06-19. Archived from the
original on 29 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
^ Anurag et al. General Design Procedures for Airport-Based Solar
Photovoltaic Systems. Energies 2017, 10(8), 1194;
^ A. Kandt and R. Romero . Implementing Solar Technologies at
Airports. NREL Report. Available:
^ Gross, Daniel (7 September 2017). "Your Misery at the
Great for Business". Slate. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
^ USA Today newspaper, Oct. 17, 2006, p. 2D
^ Thomas, Andrew R. (2011-10-03). Soft Landing:
Strategy, Service, and Safety. Apress. ISBN 9781430236771.
^ "College Park Airport". Pgparks.com. Archived from the original on
May 31, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
Sydney Airport history" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on
2009-04-01. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
^ Don Mueang International Airport
^ Bluffield (2009)
^ UNIFIED FACILITIES GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS, AIRFIELD LIGHTING
^ Lightning Protection For Offshore Oil Installations. Arturo Galvan.
^ "Why do airports have windsocks?". Piggotts Flags And Branding.
Retrieved 29 March 2017.
^ Sherry, Lance (2009). "Introduction to Airports Design and
Operations" (PDF). George Mason University Center for Air
Transportation Systems Research.
^ "En route Supplement Australia (ERSA)". Airservices.gov.au.
2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), NOTAMs in Japan". Japan
Civil Aviation Bureau. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22.
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
Lopez, Donald S. "The inside Story Airports." Flight. Alexandria, VA:
Time-Life, 1995. 36–37. Print.
Look up airport in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Airport.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for airports.
Airport Safety Challenges related to Ground Operations
"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 U.S. Department of Transportation
Airport Search A comprehensive list of world's airports
Map of worldwide airports
Airport Visualizer Worldwide airports visualized on 30+ maps
Commercial air travel
Airline holding companies
United States (A4A
Other regions (AACO
First class (aviation)
First class travel
Aircraft seat map
Buy on board
Crew rest compartment
Airport rail link
Low cost carrier terminal
Customs / Immigration
Arrival card (
Impact on environment
Air transport agreement
Bermuda Agreement (UK-US, 1946-78)
Bermuda II Agreement (UK-US, 1978-2008)
Cross-Strait charter (China-Taiwan)
Cape Town Treaty
Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives
European Common Aviation Area
Freedoms of the air
Hague Hijacking Convention
Open skies (EU–US Open Skies Agreement)
Paris Convention of 1919
Baggage handling system
Air Navigation and Transport Act
Air traffic control
Air traffic control (ATC)
Aircraft safety card
Airport crash tender
National aviation authority
Pre-flight safety demonstration
Unruly aircraft passenger
Airline booking ploys
Airline reservations system
Fare basis code
Flight cancellation and delay
Government contract flight
Passenger name record
Aircraft maintenance technician
Aircraft ground handler
Mile high club