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 senior business analyst based in our Gatwick office https://t.co/V06MtDsRUt for more
3 days ago
Financing the new runway: a delicate balancing act. Read our blog for @HuffPostUK #airpassengers https://t.co/NEpAEooQjF
10 days ago
Information for Citywing passengers with forward bookings now available on our website https://t.co/j8KuDu9ce2
10 days ago
Read all @UK_CAA
Winner announced of ‘400ft Britain’ – stunning shot of Point of Ayr in North Wales
24 February, 2017
Five major airlines face enforcement action for denying passengers compensation for delayed flights
22 February, 2017
Jeff Halliwell appointed chair of new body to scrutinise Heathrow’s consumer engagement
6 February, 2017
Read all News
Passengers with hidden disabilities
8 December, 2016
Holiday travel tips
7 December, 2016
Drone safety a key factor ahead of Christmas
2 December, 2016
Read All Blogs