An aerodrome (Commonwealth English) or airdrome (American English) is a location from which aircraft flight operations take place, regardless of whether they involve air cargo, passengers, or neither. Aerodromes include small general aviation airfields, large commercial airports, and military airbases.

The term airport may imply a certain stature (having satisfied certain certification criteria or regulatory requirements) that an aerodrome may not have achieved. This means that all airports are aerodromes, but not all aerodromes are airports. Usage of the term “aerodrome” remains more common in the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth nations; in American English, it is only used for a facility specialized in antique or ultralight aircraft.

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

According to 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.”

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. Αεροδρόμιο is the word for airport in Modern Greek, which tranliterates as aerodrome.

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 term—it 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 and Australia, 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 However, the terms airfield or airport mostly superseded use of aerodrome after World War II, in colloquial language.[original research?]

History of aerodromes
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 take offs 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 city of the first aerodrome in the world is a French commune named Viry-Chatillon.

The unimproved airfield remains a phenomenon in military aspects. The DHC-4 Caribou served in the U.S. military in Vietnam (designated as the CV-2), landing on rough, unimproved airfields where the C-130 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.

Types of aerodromes

An airport is an aerodrome certificated for commercial flights.

Air base
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.

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 World War II. 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
A water aerodrome is an area of open water used regularly by seaplanes or 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.

Aerodromes 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 (Canada) informed of any changes. To be certified as an airport the aerodrome, which usually supports commercial operations, must meet safety standards. 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).

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; Ballyboughal; Bantry; Birr; Inisheer; Inishmaan; Inishmore; Newcastle, County Wicklow; and Trim.

The infrastructures are obviously adapted to the type of use of the aerodrome. Approximately and from the simplest to the most complex:

ULM base: grass track, light markers, shelters for appliances;
Aerodrome dedicated to gliding: grass track (usable by towing planes), buoyage, hangars;
aerodrome dedicated to light aviation: runway grass and / or hard, day lighting, radio control, taxiway, parking and refueling, hangars;
aerodrome dedicated to aerial work and business aviation and local or regional airport: solid track, day and night marking, landing aid, radar control, taxiways, parking and refueling area, security fire, sheds;
air base: same case 4 with adaptations to the characteristics and performances of the planes for the length, width and resistance of the runways;
aerodrome used as national or international airport: same as case 4 with adaptations to aircraft characteristics and performances, traffic and safety requirements.

Runways are areas reserved for take-off and landing of aircraft. Their characteristics, length and width, coating and strength are related to the characteristics and performance of the aircraft, essentially mass and take-off and landing speed, which use the aerodrome.

The type of runway depends on the characteristics of the aircraft landing gear: there may be a grass runway reserved for gliders and light aircraft and, at the same time, a paved runway used by heavier planes. The number of tracks depends on the orientation of the prevailing winds and the intensity of the traffic. Note that each track can be used in both directions (with rare exceptions) and therefore has two identifiers; for example, an East-West runway will be identified 27 and 09.

Light airplanes can usually be content with grass or dirt tracks less than 1,000 m long and 25 to 45 m wide. The tracks provided to accommodate larger airliners exceed 2000 m long and 50 m wide and are made of concrete.

Landing instruments
Instrument-assisted landing is essential when weather conditions are degraded and some airlines routinely use it to improve safety. It requires that the runway and the aircraft be equipped. The ground signal stations are located in the immediate vicinity of the runway entrance. The cost of this equipment is high and practically only airports or air bases have it.

For example (2017), the state of Massachusetts in the United States has 227 aerodromes of which are equipped, that of New Mexico has 7 out of 169, Oregon 5 out of 421 and Virginia 21 out of 428.

Beaconing & Control of movements on and around the platform
The markup is the set of indications and signals painted or light on the runways or traffic areas and intended to help the pilot to identify and move on the platform.

Aerodromes can be:

uncontrolled: the aerodrome has at least one signal area and one windsock. A recorded announcement service can inform pilots by radio on the number of the runway in use and weather data. It is also possible to install a beacon remote control device enabling the lighting of the runway markings. The pilots are responsible for the anti-collision and they are advised to announce their intentions to the attention of the possible other pilots by using the adequate radio frequency;
controlled: the air traffic control service is responsible for the management and safety of the traffic; pilots must maintain radio contact with the control tower and follow instructions; the recorded announcements are then used to unload controllers from routine contacts.

The traffic lanes are delineated and arranged for the movement of aircraft between the parking spots and the runways.

Parking area
Parking areas are areas reserved for stationary aircraft and used for bunkering, embarkation and disembarkation of passengers or freight. Like runways, their dimensions and coverage depend on the size and weight of the aircraft using them.

Sheds are buildings, usually sheet metal, intended to house aircraft especially for maintenance or repair operations. On an air base there are also individual hangars for the protection of weapons aircraft.

Associations and companies established on the site
Aerodromes often host aeronautical associations or companies directly on the platform or on a related ground.

The flying clubs are structures often associative, dedicated to the practice of leisure and air sports. In addition to the technical rooms allowing the garage and the maintenance of the apparatuses they often have premises of user-friendliness allowing the members to find themselves on the ground.

Flight schools, sometimes part of a flying club, provide training for private pilots.

Companies set up on aerodrome sites when their activity is related to aeronautics. This is necessarily the case for aerial work companies, air taxi companies, tourist services offering aerial excursions or first flights and, of course, aeronautical manufacturers.

Airport facilities
If the aerodrome receives airliners then it is necessary to set up facilities dedicated to the treatment of passengers and freight for the use of the airlines, which together constitute the airport. The main building, the terminal, provides the transition from land transport to air transport. Large cities often have an aerodrome exclusively dedicated to commercial traffic, which is then designated as an airport, and other aerodromes dedicated to general aviation. The exclusion of general aviation may be regulatory or de facto through the application of discriminatory charges.

Military installations
If the aerodrome receives military aircraft, the areas outside the runways are usually separated from civilian use. Parking posts, hangars, ammunition and weapons depots, and even a staff living area provide a generally guarded air base with limited access.

Identification and information
An aerodrome is most commonly known as the nearby city, to which the name of the locality on which it is implanted may be added.

The ICAO assigns each a civil airport code consists of four letters.

The IATA gives each airport a code made of three letters.

For example, the Marignane – Berre aerodrome, identified as “LFTB” by ICAO, is co – located with the aerodrome of Marseille – Provence, identified “LFML” by ICAO which is linked to the Marseille Provence airport. identified “MRS” by IATA.

In France the Aeronautical Information Service publishes the AIP, aeronautical information publication, giving all the maps and information concerning an aerodrome. The same service also publishes NOTAMs, giving additional information, usually provisional, concerning an aerodrome.

In France, the manager specifies in his declaration to the authorities the nature of the aircraft to which the aerodrome is open.

An aerodrome can be:

civil: open to general air traffic, possibly with restrictions on access only to commercial flights;
Governmental: open to government services, military in the majority of cases;
private: reserved for particular users.

Airfields in the world
The distribution of aerodromes in the world is very uneven. The United States counts 20171, practically ⅔ of the aerodromes of the world. Brazil (2595), Canada (1881), Australia (665), Germany (474), France (450) and Venezuela (410) complete the list of countries with a large number of countries. number of aerodromes relative to their area and population.

The United States is still (in 2017) the country with the largest fleet of light aircraft and aerodromes to accommodate them.

Source from Wikipedia