Airports play an integral part of the Air Traffic Control System in order to provide adequate service to the public. This adequacy makes it possible for air transportation to bring its vital contributions to economic development and progress to the greatest number of people throughout the world.
The efficiency of the Air Traffic Control System is directly affected by the adequacy of the landing and takeoff areas. Airports must constantly be improved in order to accommodate new aircraft as well as the expanding air traffic volume. Unless airports’ progress keeps pace with all of the technological advances in aviation, airports can become one of the most serious bottlenecks in the path of efficient and safe air transportation.
Generally, airport capacity does not keep up with the demands of the world’s increasing air traffic. This deficiency has the direct effect of causing delays in the arrival and departure of aircraft which can vary in proportion to an airport’s particular deficiencies. There may be several solutions to solve this problem, however, an easy solution to the delay problem is to limit the volume of air traffic which can use the airport under specified conditions or periods of time. This perhaps would not eliminate the problem completely but could provide less frustration to the consumer.
Another factor in measuring the adequacy of airports is the efficiency of an airport and related facilities in handling the flow of passengers and cargo to and from the arriving and departing aircraft.
Over the years the airport has become a focal point in urban economic growth. Its importance in this area will continue to increase. Many cities and towns have developed around transportation terminals which were in great use at a given time. Also many smaller rural airports are being developed to take care of the needs of suburban communities. There are many commercial and industrial complexes which have been developed near metropolitan airports. Airport industrial parks have been constructed where corporate aircraft have access directly to their business establishments. Regardless of the size and location of an airport, air traffic control service is essential. All airports must provide runways and taxiways as well as landing and takeoff areas adequate enough to handle the aircraft which will be using the facilities. The parking areas for aircraft and automobiles must also be sufficient to handle the anticipated traffic. In general, the design of an airport must look toward the future use of its complex based on geographic location and possible increase of industrial and population demands.
When an airport is being designed there are certain elements which have to be considered for such a complex structure. Those elements are: 1) access facilities, 2) passenger and cargo handling buildings, 3) airport airside to accommodate different categories of aircraft such as CTOL, RTOL, STOL, and VTOL, and 4) terminal airspace which involves airport accessibility, airspace restrictions of traffic patterns which might conflict with neighboring airports and airspace to facilitate arriving and departing aircraft. The characteristics of these elements determine the airport’s capabilities and efficiency of the total Air Traffic Control System.
Airports have grown worldwide as the result of widespread use of air transportation. As air traffic continues to increase there will be a great demand for additional conventional airport to absorb some of the traffic which will also increase. Real estate for large jetports is becoming less available and more expensive especially in the densely populated areas where they are needed. We are slowly but surely running into a serious problem for the future. The design and operation of the Air Traffic Control System will need to keep pace with the inevitable growth in airport production which will be taking place as the demand for air transportation services continue to increase.
The International Civil Aviation Organization has set standards as a guide to member countries for classifying landing operations in accordance with specified weather minima. The Air Traffic Control System play a major role in the safety of passengers and aircraft during inclimate weather. We as a society don’t see their importance until we are caught in the middle of our own scheduled delayed flight or a loved one’s scheduled flight during such disastrous time. Knowing the affects of weather and flying will open our eyes to many unanswered or mysteries of the sky.
Navigators of the sea, land, and air depend on the weather to get them from a departure point to an arrival point safely and on time. Before the advancement of technology as we know it today, we did more flying during the summer months. As man expanded his distance and area, it was important to know the weather conditions in all the zones of the world.
A good pilot has the training and skills to fly cross country. National weather stations are able to keep controllers abreast with the conditions for good flight control. Pilots are sensitive to seasonal changes in the sky because they are the ever-changing balance of nature. Knowing the weather conditions and wind directions enable the pilot to fly leisurely around storms instead of trying to punch holes through them.
One concept which we must keep in mind is the fact that air pressure drops more quickly with altitude in a high pressure cell than in a low pressure cell. This decrease or increase in pressure affects the speed of the wind. As a result of the change in pressure there are winds in the upper troposphere that reach speeds greater than 250 mph. These winds are generally found between 35,000 and 40,000 feet above the ground and are called the jet streams.
(See Diagram Below) These jet streams were discovered by high flying pilots during World War II, when they found themselves being blown violently off course or pushed forward at twice the speed at which they were supposed to be flying. It has been noted that one hapless pilot found himself flying directly into an oncoming jet stream and standing still in midair.
(figure available in print form)
Differences in pressure make the wind blow. Differences in temperature create differences in pressure. Differences in humidity causes differences in precipitation. All of these differences are very important to the weather process. Pilots are aware of these differences. The meteorologist of the Air Traffic Control System is of great help in advising pilots through turbulent weather changes.