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Planning and Design of Airports Term Paper


Airports have become a part of everyday existence, as air travel is necessary for many aspects of life. The design and technology that goes into building and engineering an airport is unseen but is very complex and structured. There are many details that are important to keep in mind in order to build a well functioning and effective airport.

The runway is key part of any airport and at first, it might seem simple enough. The landing and takeoff of an airplane are considered to be one of the most important parts of any flights and so, great care must be taken in designing and building the runway. Usually, it is made of asphalt or concrete and the specifics of the plane are taken into account.

The runways have a close relationship with the Earth’s magnetic poles and their shifts. The changes in magnetic poles, which can slowly drift in a certain direction, will result in a name or number change for the runway. Some runways are designed for takeoff and some for landing. This is due to the fact that during landing the physics are different when compared to takeoff or rolling of the plane into position.

Runways are connected by ramps and the path that connects the two is called taxiway. As most of the airports are busy and the speed of traffic adds to the effectiveness of the functioning, taxiways are constructed to be used for a high speed usage. The markings on runways, ramps and taxiways are extremely important as they tell the pilots their specific purpose.

It is done with letters, numbers and different color lighting. The marking lights are heavily relied on during night time for obvious reasons. There is a great amount of technology used to test and monitor surfaces, markings and other safety details of the airport and its features (Woods 23).

Most of the time runways are made with concrete to provide obstruction free, smooth and hard surface. The thickness of concrete depends on the planes that are used and their mass is what determines if it is 10 inches or 1 meter thick. Modern airplanes that are used for commercial transports have one of the highest masses and so, the pressure from the chassis or landing gear is a key determinant.

The construction and materials for the runways are very expensive and so, the manufacturers of the aircraft must keep in mind the amount of wear that the airplane will have on the concrete. Due to this, the weight of the airplane must be equally distributed between the touching points and the amount of tires play an important role in the pressure on the pavement.

Weather conditions are also taken into consideration, as some places are suscepted to frosting conditions while others never have to deal with temperatures below zero degrees. The pavement surface is an integral part of the runway because it is an area that comes into most contact with the plane. The contact between the surface and the tires must be maximized for braking and acceleration.

As sometimes there is heavy rain, the surface is made with grooves that let water flow into them, which decreases hydroplaning or gliding of tires along the surface. Some of the materials that are used for the surface layer are asphalt, concrete, clay, a mixture of several materials called composite, coral which is made from coral reefs and others. The surface of the runways is important but so is the direction.

It is determined by the wind, as takeoff and landing happen as closely as possible to the wind direction. As the wind changes, so does the “active” runway being used. The length of the runways is related to the mass of the plane and geographical elevation. At least 1800 meters is required for aircraft that are below 90000 kilograms.

Planes that are larger in size and wider in their dimensions will have a minimum 2400 meters takeoff length. The higher the altitude the longer the runways will be. This is because the air is less dense at a higher altitude and more speed and distance is needed for an airplane to takeoff (Ashford 80).

The changes in technology have greatly affected the design of the airports. The engines are made to have more power and so, the design of the airport is changed and aligned according to the plane, its power and dimensions. The amount of fuel needed for the plane will have an effect on its mass and power output, so the types of planes that use the airport play a key role.

The airplane itself has many characteristics that differentiate it from others. The wing span, seating capacity, length of the fuselage, amount of fuel needed, on board specifications and age, all play a role in the development of the airport (Ashford 76). For example, a higher wing span will decrease the flying speed of an airplane and the speed of landing and takeoff will also be lower.

The purpose of the plane plays a significant role in the design of the airport. If it is a military base or an airplane used by the military might land in a particular airport, the mass and dimensions are taken into account. Commercial and private airplanes have a great number of specifications that dictate the design of the airports.

The amount of traffic and the loads are also factors that determine the layout and details of engineering a smooth functioning airfield. The safety of people on the ground and on the plane is an important matter and so, the conditions of the surface are constantly monitored.

The wear on the runways is inevitable and specific division of airport workers must have a close eye on any defects and irregularities. Another factor that affects the design of the airport is the area it is located in and the usage by the public. A major city airport will have a larger area with bigger size terminal and more pockets or aprons for plane parking (Graham 207).

The greater the amount of people that uses the airport, the higher is the amount of airplanes and the tower must take more effective and orderly control of the large number of airplanes. Smaller or private airports are not so demanding when comparing to major city airports and military bases.

The airports that are used by the army have different types of aircraft: helicopters, smaller and faster airplanes and transport planes, which are sometimes more demanding than those used publicly (Edwards 71).

Overall, a lot of engineering thought and planning goes into designing an airport. It is an intricate structure of systems that are all connected and serve a specific purpose. It is a place of extreme speeds and conditions that are taken very seriously, which reflects in the organization of both airplanes and airfields.

Works Cited

Ashford, Norman. Airport Engineering: Planning, Design and Development of 21st Century Airports, Hoboken, John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.

Edwards, Brian. The Modern Airport Terminal: New Approaches to Airport Architecture, Abingdon, United States: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Graham, Anne. Managing Airports, Burlington, United States: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Woods, Jessica. A Study of Airport Pavement-aircraft Interaction Using Wavelet Analysis, Ann Arbor, United States: ProQuest, 2008. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Planning and Design of Airports." April 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/planning-and-design-of-airports-term-paper/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Planning and Design of Airports'. 19 April.

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