Airport Operations: Airside and Landside

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10 Questions

What is the primary consideration in designing a holding pad?

Size of the largest aircraft that will use it

Why should the holding pad be located outside the runway and taxiway object-free area?

To prevent interference with critical ILS signals

What is the primary factor in determining the size of an aircraft parking position?

Geometric properties of the design aircraft

What is the recommended maximum apron slope for utility airports?

2 percent

What is the purpose of maintaining a minimum clearance between an aircraft and other aircraft or structures in the apron area?

To prevent damage to aircraft or structures

What is the ideal apron slope at gates where aircraft are being fueled?

0.5 percent

Why is it important to maintain good drainage on the apron?

To ensure ease of towing and aircraft taxiing

What is the recommended maximum apron slope for transport airports?

1 percent

What is the purpose of the object-free area around the runway and taxiway?

To ensure safe aircraft operations

What is a critical consideration in designing aircraft parking positions?

Geometric properties of the design aircraft

Study Notes


  • Airports consist of two main parts: airside (or airfield) and landside.
  • Airside includes runways, taxiways, aprons, aircraft maintenance areas, and air traffic control facilities.
  • Landside includes passenger buildings, cargo terminals, and other supporting buildings.

Airside (Airfield)

  • The geometric design of an airfield should provide for operational efficiency, flexibility, and potential for future growth.
  • Airfield design should comply with international and national civil aviation organizations' standards and recommended practices.
  • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are two influential sets of design standards.
  • Airfields are classified according to the most demanding type of aircraft they are designed to serve.


  • According to ICAO, a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft".
  • A runway can be equipped with lights and markings.


  • According to ICAO, a taxiway is a "defined path on a land aerodrome established for the taxiing of aircraft intended to provide a link between one part of the aerodrome and another".
  • Taxiways connect different parts of the airfield.


  • An apron is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded, loaded, refueled, or boarded.
  • Aprons are designed for specific aircraft types and operations.

Parking Area

  • A parking area is part of an apron intended for parking aircraft to enplane/deplane passengers, load or unload cargo.

Holding Aprons

  • Holding aprons are used as storage areas for aircraft prior to takeoff.
  • Holding aprons are designed to allow aircraft to maneuver easily onto the runway and to bypass parked aircraft.
  • The design of holding aprons should provide adequate space for aircraft to maneuver and sufficient room for an aircraft to bypass parked aircraft.

Terminal Aprons and Ramps

  • Aircraft parking positions on the terminal apron or ramp are sized for the geometric properties of a given design aircraft.
  • Aprons should have minimum clearances between aircraft and other aircraft or structures to ensure safe operations.

Apron Surface Gradients

  • Apron slopes or grades should be kept to a minimum consistent with good drainage requirements.
  • Slopes should not exceed 2 percent for utility airports and 1 percent for transport airports.
  • Apron slopes should be kept within 0.5 percent at gates where aircraft are being fueled.

Learn about the different components of an airport, including the airside and landside areas. Understand the key facilities and features that make up these areas, from runways to passenger buildings. Test your knowledge of airport operations and infrastructure.

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