Peter:'So Juan, today we are going to be looking at the names of the different parts of an airport which both pilots and air traffic controllers need to know.'
Peter:'So to start, tell me what the name of the main building which passengers have to go through to board/get on a plane is?'
Juan:'That's called a terminal.'
Peter:'Perfect. So, in a terminal, what is the name of the place where passengers both go to and wait at to board a plane?'
Juan:'It's called a gate. But it's also the place where people get off/disembark from a plane too. These are too easy!'
Peter:'So let's make it a little more difficult. What is the area in front of the gates where planes are parked (whether directly in front of the gates or further away) called?'
Juan:'I've heard people call it the tarmac before, but I don't know if that's its name.'
Peter:'Some people do call this space where planes are parked the tarmac, but for pilots and controllers it is called the ramp or the apron.'
Juan:'Didn't know that. So what are the roads which the planes can move slowly on called? I know that the roads where planes take off and land are called runways. But what are the roads which connect the ramp to runways called.'
Peter:'These are called taxiways. And you are right when you say their purpose is that planes can move between from the ramp to the different runways at an airport or vice versa.'
Juan:'There are so many taxiways at airports, how do pilots know which is which or where to go? Or what is a taxiway and what is runway?'
Peter:'Well, first of all there are signs. These are squares or rectangles of metal which are above the ground which have information written on them (e.g. taxiway name, directions etc...) to help pilots.
In addition, there are lines and information painted on the actual taxiway, runway or ramp. These markings also help the pilots when moving around the airport.
Both signs and markings are especially important and helpful for pilots when two taxiways (or a runway and a taxiway) cross or one joins another. If there weren't signs and markings at these intersections, planes could get lost or crash together.'
Juan:'But what happens at night? It must be difficult to see signs or markings!'
Peter:'It's more difficult. So to help pilots, there are also lights on the taxiways, runways etc... which have different colours to help pilots move around airports.
There's one special flashing light which is used to show pilots who are approaching to land where the airport is at night or when visibility is low. This is called a beacon.'
Juan:'A beacon sounds like a lighthouse for planes.'
Peter:'You are right, they are very similar to lighthouses.
I have another question for you. What do you call the tall building with lots of windows which air traffic controllers use to see what's happening at the airport?'
Juan:'That's easy, it's called a control tower.'
Peter:'Perfect. And the last question. What do you call the buildings which planes can park inside?'
Juan:'You mean the buildings which have very large doors?'
Juan:'They are called hangars.'