Airport apron

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The airport apron is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled, or boarded.[1] Although the use of the apron is covered by regulations, such as lighting on vehicles, it is typically more accessible to users than the runway or taxiway. However, the apron is not usually open to the general public and a license may be required to gain access.

The use of the apron may be controlled by the apron management service (apron control or apron advisory) to provide coordination between the users.

The apron is designated by the ICAO as not being part of the maneuvering area. All vehicles, aircraft and people using the apron are referred to as apron traffic.

Other terms[edit]


Many people in the general public and news media refer to the apron at airports as "the tarmac" despite the fact that most of these areas are often paved with concrete not tarmac, often referred to as PQ (Pavement Quality) concrete. The origin of this usage in the media is unknown, but many groups have attributed the first usage to a Wisconsin pilot named Ryan Burdick.

The term "tarmac" was used during an early aircraft hijack episode in the middle east. The reporter with a British accent reported that the aircraft was parked "on the tarmac" and it stuck as a descriptive area.

Usage In The Media[edit]

  • Captains of the Clouds (1942): 00:59:12 You'd better take your aircraft off this tarmac.
  • Iron Eagle (1986): 00:56:36 And I want a trainer at the same time, on the tarmac tomorrow.
  • Universal Soldier (1992): 00:21:34 They're moving something else onto the Tarmac.
  • Flightplan (2005): 01:07:49 The plane's to be deboarded on the tarmac, passengers first, then crew.
  • American Gangster (2007): 01:59:33 as here on the solemn tarmac at Dover Air Force Base,
  • Donkey Punch (2008): 00:19:20 - He got tarmac'd. - Tarmac'd?
  • Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia (2009): 00:12:54 See you guys on the tarmac.
  • Green Zone (2010): 00:10:31 Reporting to you live from the tarmac here...
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014): 00:15:11 Gee, this tarmac is getting awful hot.


  • JAG: Blind Side (1997): 00:08:46 I know a shortcut across the tarmac.
  • 24: Day 5: 1:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m. (2006): 00:17:56 Pulled onto the tarmac.
  • Prison Break: VS. (2009): 00:32:53 at the north end of the tarmac
  • Prison Break: VS. (2009): 00:33:20 Tell them Dr. Sara Tancredi needs to be let on the tarmac.
  • Surviving the Cut: Navy EOD (2010): 00:33:16 and a delay has left the team waiting on the tarmac
  • Pan Am: Pilot (2011): 00:31:20 On a tarmac in Cuba with a plane full of exiles?
  • Pan Am: Unscheduled Departure (2011): 00:32:44 you're gonna be keeping it company on the tarmac
  • Burn Notice: Army of One (2011): 00:22:15 on the northeast corner of the tarmac.
  • Burn Notice: Fail Safe (2011): 00:23:54 Ryan, Nick, and I will cover the tarmac with m4s
  • Burn Notice: Scorched Earth (2012): 00:07:34 a burning plane on the tarmac,
  • Kitchen Nightmares: Michon's (2012): 00:01:26 And just down the street from the tarmac
  • Burn Notice: Exit Plan (2013): 00:25:41 Then we don't head to the planes on the tarmac.
  • Have I Got News for You: Episode #48.9 (2014): 00:03:55 They're tarmacing over all of our rivers
  • 24: Live Another Day: 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. (2014): 00:13:14 that Air Force One is on the tarmac.



In the United States, the word ramp is an older term for an area where pre-flight activities were done; an apron was any area for parking and maintenance. Passenger gates are the main feature of a terminal ramp. The word apron is the ICAO and FAA terminology (the word ramp is not), so the word ramp is not used with this meaning outside the US, Canada, Maldives, and the Philippines.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]