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Cotswold Airport in England Cotswold airport at kemble from helicopter arp.jpg
Cotswold Airport in England
Pulkovo Airport, near Saint Petersburg, Russia Pulkovo airport.jpg
Pulkovo Airport, near Saint Petersburg, Russia
A Cessna 182P aircraft at Sodankyla Airfield in Sodankyla, Finland Cessna 182P OH-CMR at EFSO 20110712.jpg
A Cessna 182P aircraft at Sodankylä Airfield in Sodankylä, Finland

An aerodrome is a location from which aircraft flight operations take place, regardless of whether they involve air cargo, passengers, or neither, and regardless of whether it is for public or private use. Aerodromes include small general aviation airfields, large commercial airports, and military air bases.


The term airport may imply a certain stature (having satisfied certain certification criteria or regulatory requirements) that not all aerodromes may have achieved. That means that all airports are aerodromes, but not all aerodromes are airports. Usage of the term "aerodrome" remains more common in Ireland and Commonwealth nations, and is conversely almost unknown in American English, where the term "airport" is applied almost exclusively.

A water aerodrome is an area of open water used regularly by seaplanes, floatplanes or amphibious aircraft for landing and taking off.

In formal terminology, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an aerodrome is "a defined area on land or water (including any buildings, installations, and equipment) intended to be used either wholly or in part for the arrival, departure, and surface movement of aircraft." [1]


The word aerodrome derives from Ancient Greek ἀήρ (aḗr), air, and δρόμος (drómos), road or course, literally meaning air course. An ancient linguistic parallel is hippodrome (a stadium for horse racing and chariot racing), derived from ἵππος (híppos), horse, and δρόμος (drómos), course. A modern linguistic parallel is velodrome , an arena for velocipedes. Αεροδρόμιο is the word for airport in Modern Greek, which transliterates as aerodromio.

In British military usage, the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, and the Royal Air Force in the First and Second World Wars, used the termit had the advantage that their French allies, on whose soil they were often based, and with whom they co-operated, used the cognate term aérodrome.

In Canada [2] and Australia, [3] aerodrome is a legal term of art for any area of land or water used for aircraft operation, regardless of facilities.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) documents use the term aerodrome, for example, in the Annex to the ICAO Convention about aerodromes, their physical characteristics, and their operation. However, the terms airfield or airport mostly superseded[ citation needed ] use of aerodrome after the Second World War, in colloquial language. [4] [ original research? ]


In the early days of aviation, when there were no paved runways and all landing fields were grass, a typical airfield might permit takeoffs and landings in only a couple of directions, much like today's airports, whereas an aerodrome was distinguished, by virtue of its much greater size, by its ability to handle landings and takeoffs in any direction. The ability to always take off and land directly into the wind, regardless of the wind's direction, was an important advantage in the earliest days of aviation when an airplane's performance in a crosswind takeoff or landing might be poor or even dangerous. The development of differential braking in aircraft, improved aircraft performance, utilization of paved runways, and the fact that a circular aerodrome required much more space than did the "L" or triangle shaped airfield, eventually made the early aerodromes obsolete.

The unimproved airfield remains a phenomenon in military aspects. The DHC-4 Caribou served in the United States military in Vietnam (designated as the CV-2), landing on rough, unimproved airfields where the C-130 Hercules workhorse could not operate. Earlier, the Ju 52 and Fieseler Storch could do the same, one example of the latter taking off from the Führerbunker whilst completely surrounded by Russian troops.



Soest-Bad Sassendorf Airfield near Soest, Germany Feuerwehr.JPG
Soest-Bad Sassendorf Airfield near Soest, Germany

In colloquial use in certain environments, the terms airport and aerodrome are often interchanged. However, in general, the term airport may imply or confer a certain stature upon the aviation facility that other aerodromes may not have achieved. In some jurisdictions, airport is a legal term of art reserved exclusively for those aerodromes certified or licensed as airports by the relevant national aviation authority after meeting specified certification criteria or regulatory requirements. [5]

Air base

Hahn Air Base, near Kirchberg, Rhein-Hunsruck-Kreis, Germany Hahn Air Base aerial shelters 1977.JPEG
Hahn Air Base, near Kirchberg, Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis, Germany

An air base is an aerodrome with significant facilities to support aircraft and crew. The term is usually reserved for military bases, but also applies to civil seaplane bases.


A private airstrip at what used to be RAF Knettishall Private airstrip at Knettishall - - 243343.jpg
A private airstrip at what used to be RAF Knettishall

An airstrip is a small aerodrome that consists only of a runway with perhaps fueling equipment. They are generally in remote locations. Many airstrips (now mostly abandoned) were built on the hundreds of islands in the Pacific Ocean during Second World War. A few airstrips grew to become full-fledged airbases as strategic or economic importance of a region increased over time.

An Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) was a temporary airstrip used by the Allies in the run-up to and during the invasion of Normandy, and these were built both in Britain, and on the continent.

Water aerodrome

Yellowknife Water Aerodrome, Northwest Territories, Canada Yellowknife Water Aerodrome.jpg
Yellowknife Water Aerodrome, Northwest Territories, Canada

A water aerodrome or seaplane base is an area of open water used regularly by seaplanes, floatplanes and amphibious aircraft for landing and taking off. It may (for example Yellowknife Water Aerodrome) have a terminal building on land and/or a place where the plane can come to shore and dock like a boat to load and unload. Some are co-located with a land based airport and are certified airports in their own right. These include Vancouver International Water Airport and Vancouver International Airport. Others, such as Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre have their own control tower, Vancouver Harbour Control Tower.

By country


The Canadian Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) 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 informed of any changes. To be certified as an airport the aerodrome, which usually supports commercial operations, must meet safety standards. [2] Nav Canada, the private company responsible for air traffic control services in Canada, publishes the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS), a directory of all registered Canadian land aerodromes, as well as the Canada Water Aerodrome Supplement (CWAS). [6]

Republic of Ireland

Casement Aerodrome is the main military airport used by the Irish Air Corps. The term "aerodrome" is used for airports and airfields of lesser importance in Ireland, such as those at Abbeyshrule; Bantry; Birr; Inisheer; Inishmaan; Inishmore; Newcastle, County Wicklow; and Trim.

See also

Related Research Articles

An airport is an aerodrome with facilities for flights to take off and land. Airports often have facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off or a helipad, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals.

Airport Facility with a runway for aircraft

An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to park and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off and to land or a helipad, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals. Larger airports may have airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services. In some countries, the US in particular, airports also typically have one or more fixed-base operators, serving general aviation.

Runway Area of surface used by aircraft to takeoff from and land on

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft". Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface. Runways, as well as taxiways and ramps, are sometimes referred to as "tarmac", though very few runways are built using tarmac. Runways made of water for seaplanes are generally referred to as waterways. Runway lengths are now commonly given in meters worldwide, except in North America where feet are commonly used.

STOL A class of airplanes that are designed to takeoff and land in a short distance

A short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft has short runway requirements for takeoff and landing. Many STOL-designed aircraft also feature various arrangements for use on runways with harsh conditions. STOL aircraft, including those used in scheduled passenger airline operations, have also been operated from STOLport airfields which feature short runways.

An airfield traffic pattern is a standard path followed by aircraft when taking off or landing while maintaining visual contact with the airfield.

CFB Shearwater

Royal Canadian Air Force Base Shearwater, commonly referred to as RCAF Shearwater, was a Canadian Forces base located 4.5 nautical miles east southeast of Shearwater, Nova Scotia, on the eastern shore of Halifax Harbour in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Following a base rationalization program in the mid-1990s, the Canadian Forces closed CFB Shearwater as a separate formation and realigned the property's various facilities into CFB Halifax. These include:

Juhu Aerodrome Aerodrome in Mumbai, India. First airfield in India

Mumbai-Juhu Airport is located in Juhu, an upmarket residential suburb of Mumbai, India. It is used by small General Aviation aircraft and helicopters. It was founded in 1928 as India's first civil aviation airport, In 1932, JRD Tata landed at the Juhu aerodrome, inaugurating India's first scheduled commercial mail service. Juhu served as the city's primary airport during and up to World War II. In 1948, commercial operations were moved to the much larger RAF Santacruz which was built 2 km east of Juhu aerodrome during the war.

St. Johns International Airport International airport serving St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

St. John's International Airport is in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is located 3 nautical miles northwest of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and serves the St. John's metropolitan area and the Avalon Peninsula. The airport is part of the National Airports System, and is operated by St. John's International Airport Authority Inc.

Penticton Regional Airport

Penticton Regional Airport, also known as Penticton Airport, is a regional airport located 1.8 nautical miles southwest of Penticton, British Columbia, a city in the Okanagan region of Canada. It is owned and operated by Transport Canada, serving the South Okanagan, Similkameen and West Kootenay areas. Initial examination for the airport's construction began in 1937. The proposed locations were owned by the Penticton Indian Band at that time, but expropriated in 1949.

Guelph Airport

Guelph Airport is located 1.3 nautical miles northeast of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It consists of two runways, 14/32 and 06/24. Although known to residents as the "Guelph Airport" or "Guelph Airpark", it is actually an aerodrome, being registered, and not certified, by Transport Canada.

A maneuvering area is that part of an aerodrome to be used by aircraft for takeoff, landing, and taxiing, excluding aprons and areas designed for maintenance of an aircraft.

Airport apron

The airport apron, apron, flight line, ramp, or tarmac is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled, boarded, or maintained. Although the use of the apron is covered by regulations, such as lighting on vehicles, it is typically more accessible to users than the runway or taxiway. However, the apron is not usually open to the general public and a permit may be required to gain access. By extension, the term apron is also used to identify the air traffic control position responsible for coordinating movement on this surface at busier airports.

Jelgava Air Base

Jelgava Airfield is an airfield in Latvia located on the north border of Jelgava, a city in Latvia. During Soviet times, it was a military forward deployment attack base, but now is used by general aviation.

Melilla Airport

Melilla Airport is an airport located in Melilla, an enclave of Spain in Africa. The airport is located about 4 km (2.5 mi) southwest of the city, near the border with Morocco. Between 1931 and 1967 Melilla was served by the Tauima Aerodrome, even when Morocco had gained its independence in 1956. This Spanish controlled airport did not open until 1969.

Tejgaon Airport Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Tejgaon Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh served as the country's sole international airport prior to the construction of Shahjalal International Airport.

Mustique Airport

Mustique Airport is a private airfield owned by the Mustique Company for public use and is located on Mustique island, part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean Sea. It is used by civil aviation and national airlines using turboprop planes.

Flagler County Airport

Flagler Executive Airport is a county-owned public-use airport located three miles (5 km) east of the central business district of Bunnell, a city in Flagler County, Florida, United States. The airport's former FAA location identifiers were X47 and XFL. The airfield was originally constructed by the United States Navy during World War II as Naval Outlying Field Bunnell , an auxiliary airfield for flight training operations originating from nearby Naval Air Station Jacksonville, NAS Daytona Beach and NAS DeLand. Following the end of the war, the airfield was transferred from the Navy to Flagler County for use as a general aviation airport.

Salangen Airport, Elvenes

Salangen Airport, Elvenes is a general aviation airport located at Elvenes in Salangen Municipality in Troms og Finnmark county, Norway. It features a grass runway measuring 800 by 80 meters. It also has a water airport located on Øvrevann. The municipal airport is solely used for air sports.

Headcorn Aerodrome

Headcorn Aerodrome is a private airfield in Kent, England. The airfield is located 8 NM south of Maidstone; about 32 miles (51 km) southeast of London.


  1. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Documents, Annex 14 to The Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), Volume I- Aerodrome Design and Operations under Definitions
  2. 1 2 Transport Canada AIM - AGA 2.0 Aerodromes and Airports Archived November 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  3. Commonwealth Consolidated Acts
  4. Compare airport, airfield and aerodrome at Google Books Ngram Viewer
  5. Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901 Z 16 July 2020 to 0901Z 10 September 2020.
  6. CWAS description