Most aprons of international airports are vast areas paved with asphalt or concrete. However, I noticed this structures in the south of Köln/Bonn airport (CGN) (Google maps link):

enter image description here

Does anyone know what's the reason behind this unusual shapes?


Just found the Royal Airforce Base Brüggen with lots of dispersal areas. Some with hangars, some with banks of earth like in the black/white picture in aeroalias' answer. It's also a perfect example for the conceptional layout. (And between the areas in the south, there are even typical bunkers for explosives) enter image description here


1 Answer 1


@Simon is right. The 'parking lots' are actually dispersal areas in the (previous) military airfield at that place.

The Cologne Bonn Airport started out as an airfield for Luftwaffe in 1938 in what was a former artillery shooting range. After war, RAF took over the airfield, with the first civilian flights in September 1950. The airfield was converted for full civilian use only in 1957.

Koln/Bonn airport

"Koeln-Bonn-Airport14" by Borsi112 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

The original 1886m (32L/14R) runway is near the bottom of the image (near the dispersal area). The top runway, 3800m in length (32R/14L), was opened in 1961.

In military sirfileds, the parked aircrafts are usually dispersed in order to reduce vulnerability in case of an air raid. According to US Army Field Manual 5-430-00-2 (accessed via globalsecurity.org)

If dispersal of aircraft is possible and consistent with active defense measures, varied parking patterns provide fewer lucrative targets for indirect-fire weapons.

It also gives some (conceptual) layouts for aircraft dispersal:

Dispersal Area

Source: globalsecurity.org

The aircraft are parked in such a way as to reduce the probability that more than one aircraft is hit simultaneously. These dispersal areas have banks of earth or small walls around them to reduce the aircrafts’ susceptibility to the effects of bombs landing nearby and to reduce collateral damage in case one of them blow up. It might've looked like this:

Aircraft shelter

Source: portalnews.gq

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the informative answer. I had trouble to really understand what "dispersal" meas, but now I understand it's to reduce damage during air raids. $\endgroup$
    – sweber
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ I have to comment that this is an awesome and informative answer and you've properly attributed the images... well done $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 14:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .