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AT THE AIRPORT



Welcome to the airport, as a kid did you ever enjoy going to the airport and planting your face on the windows to watch the airplanes land and takeoff, along with watching all of the different things going on just below you?

What is an airport?

The airport is a place where the operation of aircraft, normally begins and ends its flight. Some airports are small and rather quiet, and some have grass runways. Whereas other airports a large, busy and very complex, which are utilized by large air carries. Airports also have many different facilities such as passenger terminals, cargo, hangars, FBO's and more.


A fixed based operation (FBO) is a place located on an airport that offers aviation services such as fueling, hangars for aircraft, tie-down and parking on the ramp, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, and much more.

Types of Airports

​The definition of an airport is an area of land or water used for the landing or takeoff of aircraft. There are two types:

  • Towered airports

  • Non-towered airports

These types of airports can be broken down even further, such as:

  • Civil airports

  • Private airports

  • Military/Federal Government airports


Towered airports:

Airports with an operating Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower. ATC is responsible for the safe, orderly flow of air traffic in and out. ATC Towers are established at airports that have a larger volume of air traffic.

Pilots are required to maintain two-way radio communication and comply with all instructions issued by ATC. Pilots may deviate from any ATC instruction ONLY in an emergency but must still advise ATC of the deviation.

A couple examples of obvious towered airports are:

  • LAX

  • San Diego International

  • Denver International

  • Military airfields

Examples of not so obvious towered airports:

  • Chino airport, CA

  • Montgomery Field, CA

  • King Salmon, AK

  • Lynden Pindling International, Bahamas

  • Aspen, CO

At busy airports such as Class B, some Class C and a few really busy Class D (Van Nuys airport) airports will have a clearance delivery frequency. this is used to issue clearances to aircraft prior to taxiing.


At towered airports you will talk to a ground controller before taxiing. They are responsible for taxiing aircraft movement to and from the runway.



Non-towered airports:

These airports do not have an operating Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower. Two-way radio communication is not required, but very highly recommended for everyone's safety.


​A couple examples of non-towered airports are:

  • Catalina Island airport, CA

  • French Valley airport, CA

  • Marathon International, Florida Keys

  • Lanai airport, HI

These airports do have a radio frequency to provide any airport advisories. They are referred to as a CTAF or UNICOM:

  • Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) – is used to communicate any advisory practices when operating to and from the airport.

    • CTAF may also be called a UNICOM, MULTICOM, and Flight Service Station (FSS).

  • Universal Integrates Community (UNICOM) – By tuning in, it will provide any weather information, wind direction/speed, recommended runway, and more.​


When flying into a different or even an unfamiliar airport, pilots should review the information about that airport such as communication frequencies, available services, any closed runways, even any airport construction. The sources of information a pilot can use to gain information about any airport are:

  • Aeronautical Charts

  • Chart Supplement U.S.

  • Notice to Air Missions (NOTAMs) (Changed from Notice to Airmen, Dec. 2nd, 2021. FAA Order 7930.2S

  • Automated Terminal Information Services (ATIS)



References:


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