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Airport Engineering


An airport is a place where airplanes take off and land that has all the services and buildings needed to take care of the airplanes, passengers, and cargo.
An airport terminal is a building at an airport where passengers transfer between ground transportation and the facilities that allow them to board and disembark from aircraft.

Before planning an airport, every detail has got to be worked out into an orderly manner for a particular set of conditions such as

potential air traffic originating in the vicinity, number and type of aircraft which are likely to use the airport, its location with respect to nearly airports, whether it is going to be used for commercial, defuse or mixed traffic, actual need of the area for present as well as future anticipated requirements, etc.

Before determining the size of the airport and selecting a suitable site for it, it is essential to establish certain standards by which to

ascertain its feasibility or otherwise, the basic requirement being that the aircraft must operate safely and with the greatest convenience and economy.

The busiest airport is Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta

International in the USA with 76.7 million passengers each year. London heathrow international (about 5 square kilometers) in the UK has 49,971,597 passengers each year.

In terms of the overall size of the airport, King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is the largest.

In terms of runway size, Edwards Air Force Base is the largest with its 39,097 foot runways.

In terms of airport terminals, Dubai International Airports 16.1 million sq ft terminal three is the largest.

The worlds largest airport (in square kilometers) is the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (780 square kilometers)


The size of an airport depend upon factors such as: A. Performance characteristics of the aircraft likely to use the airport B. Topography of the area and presence of obstructions C. Anticipated volume of traffic D. Meteorological Conditions

A. Air Performance Characteristics Performance of an aircraft itself depends upon a number of factors such as aircraft rating, barometric pressure, wind velocity, condition of the landing areas, absence of obstructions and skill of the pilot operating the aircraft.

B. Site Characteristics
The presence or absence of obstructions near a landing area, the geometrical shape of the field, its situation at the top of a ridge or

inside a valley etc., all affect the size of an airport to a considerable extent


The volume of traffic measured in terms of the number of plane movements in limited period of time, shall necessary influence the

site of an airport. This is especially true when the maximum number of landings and takeoffs have to be accommodated during peak hours or under adverse weather conditions.


A. Atmospheric Pressure B. Air Density C. Altitude D. Winds

The Site Selection

T he s ele cti on o f a suitab le s ite for an

a irport d epend s up on t h e c la ss of a i r po rt u n d er c o n s i deratio n . T he s ite - se le cti on pro c es s for large a irports can tak e many m onths; in s o m e not ab le c as es it ha s ex tended o v er many y ears . The proce dure is c o mpl icate d b y t h e num b er of fact ors t h a t m u s t b e t a k en i n t o a c c o u nt .

The factors listed below are for the selection of a suitable site for a major airport installation:

Operational Capability

The operational capability of the site is assessed, particularly with respect to weather conditions such as wind, snow, ice, fog, and low visibility and also with respect to obstructions to air navigation around the airport, particularly on the approach and takeoff paths.

Regional plan

The site selected should fit well into the

regional plan there by forming it an integral part of the national network of airport.

Airport use

The selection of site depends upon the use of

an airport. Whether for civilian or for military operations. However during the emergency civilian airports are taken over by the defense. Therefore the airport site selected should be such that it provides natural protection to the area from air roads.

Proximity to other airport


site should be selected at a considerable distance from the existing airports so that the aircraft landing in one airport does not interfere with the movement of aircraft at other airport. The required separation between the airports mainly depends upon the volume of air traffic.

Ground accessibility

the site should be so selected that it is readily

accessible to the users. The airline passenger is more concerned with his door to door time rather than the actual time in air travel. The time to reach the airport is therefore an important consideration especially for short haul operations.



includes natural features like ground contours trees streams etc. A raised ground a hill top is usually considered to be an ideal site for an airport.


when aircraft is landing or taking off

it loses or gains altitude very slowly as compared to the forward speed. For this reason long clearance areas are provided on either side of runway known as approach areas over which the aircraft can safely gain or loose altitude.


poor visibility lowers the traffic capacity of

the airport. The site selected should therefore be free from visibility reducing conditions such as fog smoke and haze. Fog generally settles in the area where wind blows minimum in a valley.

Noise nuisance

the extent of noise nuisance depends upon the climb out path of aircraft type of engine propulsion and the gross weight of aircraft. The problem becomes more acute with jet engine aircrafts. Therefore the site should be so selected that the landing and take off paths of the aircrafts pass over the land which is free from residential or industrial developments.

Grading, drainage and soil characteristics

grading and drainage play an important

role in the construction and maintenance of airport which in turn influences the site selection. The original ground profile of a site together with any grading operations determines the shape of an airport area and the general pattern of the drainage system. The possibility of floods at the valley sites should be investigated. Sites with high water tables which may require costly subsoil drainage should be avoided.

Future development
considering that the air traffic volume will

continue to increase in future more member of runways may have to be provided for an increased traffic.
availability of utilities from town

economic consideration