Airport Functional Layout


Airport Functional Layout


Efficient Airport services aid in smooth transit through the airport, as well as in successful airline operations. To gain complete control over Airport services and operations, integrated planning services are used which meet quality standards that involve safety and security of the entire airport.

Every minute. detail of airport services and operations is planned. To domain of the airlines industry is the most challenging example of operational planning. Airport functional layout discusses the major elements that are involved in the designing and planning of the terminal area.


Airport Layout Plan

Airside and Landside

The foremost concern is the creation of a segregated Airside from the Landside by erecting a Landside-Airside demarcation. Airside must be demarked specifically by erecting an Airside / Landside barrier, which is generally the Airport Perimeter Wall.

At times, building such as Terminal Building and Cargo Building also act as barriers. Before proceeding to understanding concepts, the definitions need to be understood.

Airside– Definition

The movement area of an airport, adjacent terrain and buildings or portions thereof, access to which is controlled”. Thus the Aprons, Hangers, Runways, Taxiways, Security Hold Areas, etc., are the parts of the Airside.

Landside – Definition

“That area of an airport and buildings to which both travelling passengers and the non- travelling public have unrestricted access. Check – in Counters, shops and restaurants are examples of the Landside.


The Departure area in the Airside has the following areas:

  • Security Hold Area

The Airside in the Airport starts through the boarding gate, which is in the Security Hold Area. This area also has a bus lounge for passengers. At smaller airports, passengers walk to the Aircraft parked on the Apron. At larger airports, there are aerobridges in the corridor, which get attached to the Aircraft and this is the mode of boarding for nose-in bays.

  • Apron / Aerobridge Area


        Passengers enter the Apron area from the security hold area through either.

  • The Aerobridges if the Aircraft is on the nose – in bays
  • The Apron Passenger Vehicle if the Aircraft is on the Remote Bay.

Apron is divided into several bays for placing Aircraft. Some exclusive bays are allotted to Cargo Airlines for carrying out Cargo operations.

  • Baggage – Make – up Area

The Departure area of the Terminal Building has the Baggage – Make up area in the Airside. Registered baggage is sorted out here for flight and destinations.


The Arrival area in the Airside has the following areas:

  • Immigration Clearance Area
  • Baggage Break- up Area.

In case passengers have to undertake another journey by Air, they proceed to the departure level through the Transit Gate.

The airside of airports also holds the following:

  • Control Tower- ATC tower
  • Navigational Aids such as ILS, DME, DVOR, Glide path,
  • Radar, etc.,
  • Fire Services
  • Hanger / Parking Bay
  • Runway
  • Access Control Gates

Aircraft Maintenance Areas and Hangers (within Airside)

  • Hangers and Aprons / Parking Bay

An Aerodrome also consists of parking bays located at Aprons for aircraft. Parking bays are normally associated with terminals.

For Example, an international flight will park at the international Apron I Parking bay reserved for international flights and domestic aircraft are parked at Domestic Apron / Bays.

  • Apron and Taxiway


A defined area, on a land aerodrome, intended to accommodate aircraft Tor purposes of loading or unloading passengers, mail or cargo, fueling, parking or maintenance. Apron is also known as the Aerobridge Area.


A defined path, on a land aerodrome, is established for the taxiing of aircraft and intended to provide a link between one part of the aerodrome and another.



  • Approach Road

The main entry to and exit from the airport starts from the landside of the airport. These areas (approach and the Parking Lots0 are also referred to as City side of an Airport.

The landside of an airport has three main areas;

  1. Approach – The road that leads to the terminal building and the parking lot.
  2. Parking Lot – The area where vehicles are parked
  3. Terminal Building – The area that caters to passengers of Domestic and International Flights.
  • Perimeter

The perimeter is the first line of defense in providing physical security at an airport. It could be a wall, a fence, or a part of building.

The perimeter has the following functions:

  • Demarcates the landside from the Airside
  • Protects the facilities and vulnerable areas of the airport
  • Demarcates the areas of the Airport
  • Creates a legal liability on a person crossing it in an unauthorized manner

The Perimeter is a security requirement due to which, unauthorized access is detected, it creates a psychological deterrent as well.

Terminal Building

  • Airport Terminal Buildings

Terminal Buildings are the Gateways to the Airport, through which the departing passengers and the arriving passengers have the first interface with the airport. A terminal building houses all the facilities for the passengers and carries on the essential traveling and regulatory formalities. Since a terminal building acts as a service center for transit and processing of passengers, it must balance aesthetics with function.

Terminal Building is designed to function for:

  • Passenger convenience
  • Aircraft operations

Airport Terminal Buildings must be designed to accommodate the following:

  • Aircraft
  • Passengers
  • Cargo
  • Automobiles
  • Terminal Area

Terminal Area includes:

  • Terminal Building
  • Supporting facilities
  • Cargo buildings
  • Gates
  • Hangars
  • Auto parking
  • Entrance roads ( leading from the main road to the terminal foyer)

Automobile Parking

Automobile Parking at airport is a major source of revenue. It consists of:

  • Remote lots (parking of vehicles of Air operators, GHA, other Airport users, etc., within the Airport Airside. The rentals for such parking spaces are more than those outside, hence a source of revenue.)
  • Intra terminal

In case the automobile parking is off – airport, the costs of operating it are low where a shuttle is used to access the airport.

Passenger Processing

Passenger processing involves the passenger:

  • Obtaining pax authorization to fly on airplane
  • Obtaining ticket
  • Obtaining boarding pass

Luggage Processing

Luggage that is taken inside the plane is processed in the following locations:

  • Curbside
  • Inside terminal

Getting to the Gate

In order to get to the gate a passenger must pass through the security,after reaching it by adhering to the procedures laid down.

Travelling Along Concourse

The concourse of the Airport is designed to make the place passenger friendly and convenient for the required equipment, to be laid out ergonomically, where operations can be carried out without detracting from the aesthetics or design of the Airport. Sometimes the Walkabouts are also designed.

Design Based on Hourly Visit

The design of the concourse is based on hourly passengers / visitors, while its arrangements depend on the terminal design. The space of an airport is architecturally designed to cater to the number of passengers transiting through the airport. This take care of the congestion and the place does not look very claustrophobic. The operations become smooth and there are no bottlenecks.

Arrangement Depends on Terminal Design

Architectural Designs of airport differ vividly from one airport to another. Equipment, facilities, and amenities are located based on the design of the airport.

Terminal Building

The Terminal building has the following passenger amenities:

  • Food and beverage
  • Traditional restaurant
  • Food court
  • Reading material
  • Business services – fax, internet, computer ports
  • Rental car facilities – in airport / off-site
  • Specially stores
  • Lodging

The Terminal building also has the Boarding Area.

The functions of the boarding area are:

  • Providing boarding pass
  • Disseminating information to pax
  • Accessing aircraft

The size of the boarding area is based upon type of aircraft and number of passengers handled. Boarding area also provides accommodations for passengers with special needs.

Types of Aerobridges

The Boarding Bridge in the Boarding area may be

  • Fixed
  • Mobile

Vital Navigational Installations

Navigation systems have developed from primitive ground-based radio transmitters to sophisticated space-based systems.

Navigation systems assist:

  • Pilots in flying from one airport to another
  • Pilots and air traffic controllers in determining an aircraft’s position relative to the ground and to other aircraft.
  • Pilots in navigating safely at high altitudes, or during bad weather

Examples: ILS, VOR, ATC, Transmission stations, Radar

Instrument landing System (ILS)

ILS facilities are a highly accurate and dependable means of navigating to the runway in IFR conditions. When using the ILS, the pilot determines aircraft position primarily by reference to instruments.

The ILS consists of:

  • Localizer transmitter
  • Glide path transmitter
  • Outer markers
  • Approach lighting system

ILS stations are installed at all international airports

ILS is used to:

  • Aid the landing aircrafts with instrument guidance under adverse weather conditions.
  • Provide the pilot, precise information of the aircraft direction so that while landing, the aircraft touches the ground at the specific point

Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-Range (DVOR)

DVOR is a basic electronic navigation that is commonly used. An aircraft navigates from one airport to the other, in technical terms, from one DVOR to another.

This DVOR navigation method:

  • Relies on ground based transmitters which emits signals to a DVOR receiver in the aircraft.
  • Operates in the VHF frequency band, from 108.0 to 117.95 MHZ
  • Operates optimally when the aircraft is at a minimum altitude of 1000 feet above ground

Most VOR stations also have distance-measuring equipment (DME). A display indicator located in the aircraft reads the signals and tells the pilot if they are on course and how far they are from the station. VOR- DME Systems are limited in range to 160 miles and can only provide direct courses to or from a given station.

Air Traffic Control (ATC)

ATC forms the Central Nervous System of all communications between the Aircraft and the Airport. The infrastructure of the modern Airport is equipped with state – of – the- art navigational aids to help the aircraft communicate with the facilities at the airport and the person manning the ATC. Collisions are the only reason aircraft need to be kept apart.

Three elements work in tandem maintain aircraft safely. They are:

  1. The basic set of flying rules that pilots follow in the air.
  2. The host of electronic navigation systems and instruments Radar
  3. Air traffic controllers and electronic systems used to track aircraft during takeoff, flight, and landing.


There are two type of radar systems installed at each ATC ground station. The first, called the Primary Surveillance Radar, operates on the principle of sending a narrow beam of energy, which is reflected from the aircraft under surveillance, and measuring its distance by noting the time lapse between the radar pulse transmission and the received echo. The second, called the Secondary Surveillance Radar, operates on the coded reply sent from the airborne radio beacon Transponder in response to an interrogation sent from the ground Radar Station.


  • Airside and Landside
  • Terminal Building
  • Vital Navigational Installations.