The Mini Cities – Airport

It seems that there are only one post for my aviation category, so today I decided to post something about aviation for you fellow readers to know more about the aviation world.

Whenever we think about aviation, we will think about airplanes ^^, . But I am not going to post about airplanes today (yet). What I am going to post today is this place where ones journey always begins – the airport!

Ok first lets start off with the simple definition of an airport :

An airport is a facility where aircraft such as airplanes, helicopters, and blimps operate. An airport minimally consists of at least one surface such as a runway, a helipad, or water for takeoffs and landings, and often includes buildings such as hangars and terminal buildings.

Now that we know what the hell an airport is (which most of you should have known), let move on further and talk about its structures and attributes!

About airport attributes :

Airports vary in size, with smaller or less-developed airports — which represent the vast majority — often having only 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. Typically, heavier aircraft require longer runways.

The longest public-use runway in the world is at Qamdo Bangda Airport, in Bangda, Chamdo, Tibet Autonomous Region. It has a length of 5,500 m (18,045 ft). The world’s widest paved runway is at Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport and is 105 m (344 ft) wide.

As of 2006, there were approximately 49,000 airports around the world, including 14,858 in the US alone.[1]

Modern engineers and architects are developing “floating airports” which could be located several miles at sea and which would utilize designs such as pneumatic stabilized platform technology.

Airports are divided into landside and airside areas. Landside areas include parking lots, public transportation train stations, tank farms and access roads. Airside areas include all areas accessible to aircraft, including runways, taxiways, ramps and tank farms. 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 area where aircraft park next to a terminal to load passengers and baggage is known as a ramp (or, to the media and uninitiated, “the tarmac“). Parking areas for aircraft away from terminals are generally called aprons

Both large and small 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 more conspicuous level of physical security, although in recent years, many countries have adopted the same level of security for international and domestic travel.

And about its structure :

Shops and food services

Airports have a captive audience, and consequently the prices charged for food are generally higher than are available elsewhere in the region. However, some airports, such as John F. Kennedy International Airport‘s Terminal 8, have no restaurants at all. Airport fees are fees commonly paid for use of services of airports, such as in the Subic Bay International Airport, known for charging airport fees. However, some airports now regulate food costs to keep them comparable to so-called “street prices”. This term is a bit misleading as prices often match the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) but are almost never discounted.

Premium and VIP Services

Several mid-large size airports also have facilities for premium passengers. In the US, these lounges are typically for international or long-haul first and business class passengers, paid members, and elite-level frequent fliers on long haul flights (regardless of what class they are in). In the rest of the world, the lounges are not open to purchase, but can be used by all premium passengers and most elite frequent fliers. Some lounges are comparatively spartan and only offer a quiet place to sit and work; other lounges include meals and massage services.

Cargo and freight services

In addition to people, airports are responsible for moving large volumes of cargo around the clock. Cargo airlines often have their own on-site and adjacent infrastructure to rapidly transfer parcels between ground and air modes of transportation.

Support services

Aircraft maintenance, pilot 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 brakes would have little or no effect.

And with all this facilities you might wonder, do we actually need it? Do we even have such big volumes of people commuting through airports everyday? Well here is the answer :

At a typical large airport in the United States, over 100-million people can flow through in just one year. When you consider that the population of the United States is only 300-million or so, that’s a pretty startling statistic!

Any major airport has lots of customers, most of them passengers. Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, for example, handles 2,400 flights every day (one flight every 40 seconds, 24 hours a day!) carrying hundreds of thousands of people. That adds up to 72-million domestic and 78-million international passengers passing through Hartsfield each year. That’s a lot of people, and most of those 150-million are going to want to grab a bite, use the restroom, maybe buy a magazine…

So with this great amount of people coming to and from the airport everyday, an airport will need to rely on good ground transportation to cater for all the needs of the people. Here is how an airport do it :

The busiest airport in the world is Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. Here are some ways ground transportation is critical to that airport:

  • Roads allow access to and from the airport: In Atlanta, four interstate highways move traffic to and from Hartsfield. There’s also a station for MARTA trains to connect into the city’s rapid transit system.
  • Parking allows short- and long-term storage of automobiles. Parking can be on or off airport grounds, and some parking systems are run by private vendors under airport regulation. Hartsfield has 30,000 public parking spaces.
  • Passenger drop-off and pick-up areas make it easier for passengers to get into the terminals, although they are often plagued by traffic congestion because so many people are trying to get in and out.
  • Rental car companies serve airports. Hartsfield has eight rental car companies on airport grounds and another three off airport grounds.
  • Shuttle services provide passengers with transportation to local hotels and off-site parking facilities. Hartsfield is served by 18 hotel/motel shuttle buses.
  • Private transportation is available in the form of limousines, vans and taxis.
  • Public transportation (such as municipal buses and subways) may have stations at an airport. Besides the MARTA station at Hartsfield, 12 bus lines (public and private) serve the airport.
  • Internal subway trains and trams may be available to help passengers get to the terminal gates from the concourse. Hartsfield’s People Mover is a 3.5-mile (5.6-km) loop track that has 13 stations serving six concourses with nine four-car trains; the trip is two minutes between stations.
  • After getting there, an airport would need large facilities to accommodate all the people in the airport. People would require various services at the airport.

    Airports provide those services in their concourses and terminals, the heart of any airport. There you’ll find the space for airlines to handle ticket sales, passenger check-in, baggage handling and claims.

    While the terms are often used interchangeably, we’ll define concourses as the long halls and large, open areas where you’ll find shops, restaurants and lounges, and terminals as long halls lined by the gates where you board and disembark airplanes. Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport has 5.7-million square feet (529,547 square meters) of concourses and terminals — that’s 130 acres! Most of the time, and in most airports, concourse areas are accessible to the general public (passengers and non-passengers).

    So after passing through the concourse and terminals, your next stop (if you are a passenger) would be the gates:

    The gates are where the airplanes park for passenger boarding and deplaning. Passengers wait in the immediate area of each gate to board the plane. Gates are rented by each airline from the airport authority, and some airlines may rent a whole terminal building in their “hub” airport, in which case the rental fee alone can run into the millions of dollars.

    Oh and finally, lets discuss about airport security :

    Airports are required to have safety precautions in most countries. Rules vary in different countries, but there are common elements worldwide. 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, airport security has been dramatically increased worldwide.

    Well I guess that roughly covers much about the airport.

    Oh and here is a couple of pictures of airports around the world!

    Incheon International Airport

    Incheon International Airport-2.jpg

    Plane arrival at Barra Airport.jpg

    Barra Airport – the only airport in the world where the arrival of scheduled flights varies with the tide as planes land on the beach.

    Disclaimer.

    All the information in this post is from

    Wikipedia and also HowStuffWorks.

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