Major international airports are complex operations, potentially with multiple runways and terminals linked by miles
The movements of aircraft (airborne and on the ground) are controlled by air traffic control from a control tower.
While at some airports controllers will have ground radar to assist them, most direction is done by sight. This
includes making sure that ground vehicles are safely separated from aircraft.
Pilots have a chart of each aerodrome showing details of both the runways and the taxiways.
Did you know? The wind determines direction of take-off and landing, as aircraft must fly
into the wind during these phases of flight. Air traffic controllers will bear this in mind when choosing the most
Before taking off every airliner has to file a flight plan with air traffic control. The flight plan describes the
route to their destination and the timings of the flight. These details are entered into a central European system and
an air traffic control ‘slot’ for the flight is allocated. This system ensures that all air traffic controllers along
the route are aware of the flight and have the capacity to handle it at the time it’s due to be in their airspace.
If an aircraft misses its slot, for example if it has a maintenance issue or a passenger is late, then this
clearance will probably need to be re-submitted and a new time approved.
At the end of the journey, when approaching a busy major airport, air traffic control may put aircraft into a
holding pattern or ‘stack’ so that the arrivals can be managed. This occurs when the airspace is busy or if there have
been delays. Aircraft enter the stack at its highest point and then spiral down until the controller is ready to feed
them into the final approach to land.
At airports like Heathrow there may be a number of stacks and the controller will draw aircraft from them to make
the most efficient use of the runway.
We are currently recruiting a Flight Standards Officer to assist with our work overseeing air displays. More info a… https://t.co/tcJfsvfuuc
6 days ago
We have a great opportunity for someone with the right experience and skills to lead our drone policy team. Leading… https://t.co/ATxKYn4Wzw
7 days ago
Do you have experience of project management? Can you facilitate and lead on stakeholder workshops? If so, we may h… https://t.co/Hw5Y4qAitA
15 days ago
Read all @UK_CAA
CAA calls for more prosecutions to crack down on violent and drunken airline passengers
15 August, 2018
CAA statement on passenger compensation during the current Ryanair strike
20 July, 2018
Millions expected to jet off for summer sunshine
17 July, 2018
Read all News
Planning your next holiday abroad?
10 April, 2018
‘Share the Air’ gets off to a flying start
1 December, 2017
Passengers with hidden disabilities
8 December, 2016
Read All Blogs