[air-pawrt, -pohrt]

Site and installations for the takeoff and landing of aircraft. Early airports were open, grass-covered fields, called landing fields, that allowed a pilot to head directly into the wind to aid a plane's lift on takeoff and to decrease its speed on landing. In the 1930s heavier airplanes required paved runway surfaces. Larger planes needed longer runways, which today can reach 15,000 ft (4,500 m) to accommodate the largest jet aircraft. Air traffic is regulated from control towers and regional centres. Passenger and cargo terminals include baggage-movement and passenger-transit operations.

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An aerodrome is an area on land or water (including any buildings, installations and equipment) used for the arrival and departure of aircraft.


The word was created by analogy with "Hippodrome", (Greek, from hippos, horse, and dromos, race or course) which was a course for horse racing and chariot racing in ancient times.

General usage

The term is used in ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) documents, for example in the Annex to the ICAO Convention about aerodromes, their physical characteristics and their operation. The term "Airport" is also used in the aviation industry. There is not a clear difference in meaning between the two terms.

UK usage

In the UK, the term was used by the Royal Air Force in the two World Wars as it had the advantage that their French allies, on whose soil they were based and with whom they co-operated, used the equivalent term (aérodrome). However, the term "Airfield" or "Airport" has mostly superseded Aerodrome.

United States usage

In the United States, the word was modified into airdrome but has become obsolete since the World War II. Though it is still used to describe airplane museums such as Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome located in Rhinebeck New York where dog fights and other flying stunt are reenacted.

Australian/Canadian usage

In Canada and Australia usage it is a legal term of art for any area of land or water used for aircraft operation, regardless of facilities.

The Canadian act says "...for the most part, all of Canada can be an aerodrome.", however there are also "registered aerodromes" and "certified airports". To become a registered aerodrome the operator must maintain certain standards and keep the Minister of Transport (Canada) informed of any changes. To be certified as an airport the aerodrome, which usually supports commercial operations, must meet safety standards.

The Canadian government publishes a directory of Canadian Water Aerodromes in the Water Aerodrome Supplement (WAS).

Modifications of the term

In science fiction stories written in the 1930s and early 1940s the term "Spacedrome" was used in fictional depictions of a space travelling future but the word has dropped out of use.

The term "Cosmodrome" was first used in the former Soviet Union and refers to a spaceport. Today the spaceport of Baikonur is still referred to as the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

See also


External links

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