Courses

Understanding Airport

Chapter : Types of Airports


There are many types of airports operating world over. They can be classified based on number of parameters such as their size and volume of traffic, ownership, facilities, types of flights handled etc. Broadly airports are classified based on whether they have their own Air Traffic Control Tower or not. The ones which have their own control tower are called as Towered or Controlled Airports and the ones which do not have their own control tower are called as Uncontrolled or Non-towered Airports.

Air traffic control (ATC) is responsible for providing for the safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic at airports where the type of operations and/or volume of traffic requires such a service. Pilots operating from a controlled airport are required to maintain two-way radio communication with air traffic controllers, and to acknowledge and comply with their instructions.

Based on the volume and type of traffic handled by the airport, most commercial airports can be classified into various types. What separates one from the other depends upon the types of services it provides, the size aircraft it serves, the length of the runways with its complementary terminal facilities, and its proximity to densely populated area. Airport "size" is judged either by the number of operations (takeoffs and landings) or the number of passengers who fly in or out of the facility.

There are many types of airports that exist today as part of the air transportation system. These airports range from a single grass airstrip in an agricultural or rural area to the large airports serving major cities. Overall, airports bring business and industry to every community they support. All airports regardless of their size, provide access to the air transportation network. There are six basic types of airports barring military and private airports, as follows: • Rural airstrip / Remote Aerodromes • Small Community / City airport • Regional Airport • Regional HUB Airport • International Airport / Major City Airport • International Hub Airport

Rural Airstrips / Remote aerodromes: Not all airports are located near towns and cities. Driving through agricultural regions, a single narrow strip of grass or pavement along the highway could indicate that there is an aerial operation based there. These are referred to as rural airstrips. These are the airports where homes with attached hangars allow owners to taxi from their hangar to a shared runway

Small Community / City Airport: Many small communities have single airstrip airports where private and small business airplanes are based. These small community airports support general aviation flying. Most of these smaller airports do not have operating control towers. Often these regional community airports offer facilities for training student pilots. A few of these smaller airports near remote towns and cities have limited airline service. These services usually consist of small, propeller airplanes or small, regional jets that seat no more than 20 passengers. The airline service from a small community airport can provide service to a major city airport and a regional airport.

Regional Airport: The regional airports typically are larger than the small community airports, have airport control towers, and have facilities for operation in instrument conditions when visibility is poor. Many of these smaller city airports have two or more runways and facilities for making instrument approaches. Commuter airlines using slightly larger jets provide service from these airports to other regional airports, and to major city airports. This kind of airport is generally used by feeder airlines operating 40-60 seats turbo prop aircrafts. Regional Airports are also preferred by Low Cost Airlines as their service charges are much lesser compared to other busy airports and suits the requirements of the LCCs.

Regional Hub Airport: Regional Hub airports are supported by several communities or a medium sized city. Working together these communities can have an airport with instrument facilities, a control tower, more than one runway and airline service. These airports provide passenger and cargo service on a regular basis and support the larger passenger aircraft and provides connectivity to other regional airports. These airports are predominantly domestic airports with more traffic compared to regional airports. The airport may offer maintenance facility for smaller aircrafts and fuelling facility. The terminal is bigger or may have more than one terminal.

International Airport / Major City Airport: Characteristics of these major city airports include separate terminals for national and international flights, two or more long runways capable of handling the larger jet airliners, and fully functioning airport control towers with instrument landing capabilities. An international airport should have customs and immigration facilities, handling international flights to and from other countries. This kind of airport is generally larger and features longer runways since they have to handle long-haul international flights operated by wide bodied aircrafts.

International Hub Airports: These are mostly Gateway entry points to the country from where connections to various interior cities are available. These international airports are also homes of non-direct flights, and passengers can switch planes there. These airports are called as Hubs. Generally home based airline has a separate terminal with various facilities such as aircraft maintenance, fuelling, in-flight catering, cabin cleaning etc. It may have multiple terminals and two or more runways. Typical large international airports have very large vehicle parking facilities, shopping malls, restaurants, theatres, hotels, fast food courts and rail link. These types of airports employ tens of thousands of employees and some airports have the potential to develop into a city itself.