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The terms apron, ramp, tarmac, taxiway, parking area, gate, hardstand are used in a way that I cannot understand.

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Boeing Everett Factory. Photo by Andrew Hunt at Airliners.net (url unknown). Cropped image from this page

I can't figure out if one is generic and another a part of this set, or if they are well defined by their use (taxiway), or anything else.

Questions I can't answer:

  • Is this a binary split: Runways vs tarmac?
  • Is the gate stand part of the tarmac?
  • Is a parking area different from a ramp?
  • Is a taxiway considered part of the apron?
  • Are aprons made of Tarmac (tarmacadam)?
  • Is a de-icing area part of the ramp?

etc.

In addition I guess this may varies between countries and/or aeronautical jurisdiction.

Can someone provide an accurate view of the lingo and explain whether some are related or synonymous? (filling the blanks if some important term is missing).

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Apron and ramp (in US) mean the same, though the official term is apron. FAA Advisory Circular Number 120-57A Surface Movement and Guidance Control System defines it as:

Apron (Ramp). A defined area on an airport intended to accommodate aircraft for purposes of loading or unloading passengers or cargo, refueling, parking, or maintenance.

Now, the apron includes parking, maintenance and service areas, including taxi lanes.

The apron area includes the following components:

(1) Aircraft Parking Positions. Intended for parking aircraft to enplane/deplane passengers, load or unload cargo.

(2) Aircraft Service Areas. in or adjacent to an aircraft parking position.Intended for use by personnel/equipment for servicing aircraft and staging of equipment to facilitate loading and unloading of aircraft.

(3) Taxilanes. Apron areas which provide taxiing aircraft access to and from parking positions.

(4) Vehicle Roadways Markings. Identified rights of way on the apron area designated for service and Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicles.

So,

Is this a binary split: Runways vs tarmac?

Kinda. Basically, the areas in airport where aircraft are involved are divided (by the FAA atleast) into runway, taxiway and apron.

i. Movement Area. Refers to the runways, taxiways, and other areas of an airport which are used for taxiing or hover taxiing, air taxiing, takeoff, and landing of aircraft,exclusive of loading ramps and aircraft parking areas.

j. Non-movement Area. Refers to taxiways and apron areas that are not under ATC

Is the gate stand part of the tarmac?

Its part of ramp, so yea.

Is a parking area different from a ramp?

It is part of the ramp/apron

Is a taxiway considered part of the apron?

Nope. As already noted.

FAA AC No: AC 150/5300- 13A Airport Design defines runways and taxiways as:

Runway (RW). A defined rectangular surface on an airport prepared or suitable for the landing or takeoff of aircraft.

Taxiway (TW). A defined path established for the taxiing of aircraft from one part of an airport to another.

Are aprons made of Tarmac?

Tarmac is a trademark of Tarmac limited, which supplies construction materials for a a number of airports (among others), though most of the aprons are actually made of concrete.

Is a de-icing area part of the ramp?

As de-icing is part of servicing, it should be part of apron/ramp.

However, it should be noted that though this is the 'official' version, differing local usage means that tarmac is used interchangeably with apron/ramp.

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Quite a bit of these can be found in the Pilot-Controller Glossary:

APRON− A defined area on an airport or heliport intended to accommodate aircraft for purposes of loading or unloading passengers or cargo, refueling, parking, or maintenance. With regard to seaplanes, a ramp is used for access to the apron from the water.

Ramp and Apron are synonymns:

RAMP− (See APRON.)

TARMAC is not, by itself, defined, however there are a number of terms related to operations on tarmac, for example:

TARMAC DELAY− The holding of an aircraft on the ground either before departure or after landing with no opportunity for its passengers to deplane

Leading me to believe that any place can be considered "Tarmac" except movement areas.

Taxiway is also not explicitly defined (oddly, I'm sure it is well defined in the airport construction guide), but high-speed taxiway is. I assume a taxiway is the same thing except a more reasonable speed:

HIGH SPEED TAXIWAY− A long radius taxiway designed and provided with lighting or marking to define the path of aircraft, traveling at high speed (up to 60 knots), from the runway center to a point on the center of a taxiway. Also referred to as long radius exit or turn-off taxiway. The high speed taxiway is designed to expedite aircraft turning off the runway after landing, thus reducing runway occupancy time.

Although I don't believe all taxiways are required to be lit. So I would say Taxiway is:

Taxiway: A defined path for an aircraft leading from runways to parking areas, hangers, gates, cargo terminals, or other operations area's.

Parking Area and Gate are not defined in the PCG, these terms should be pretty easy so I'll give a go at it:

Parking Area: Specified location(s) on the airfield where aircraft may be parked for extended periods of time. Gate: Designated passenger loading/disembarking area for access to terminals, other gates, and airport entrance/exits.

Hardstand is also not defined by the PCG, but Wikipedia gives it a good go:

Hardstand: A hardstand is a paved area for parking heavy vehicles.


So to answer your questions directly:

Is this a binary split: Runways vs tarmac?

Yes, since you can have a "Tarmac Hold" but not typically hold on the runway, I would say that airports do not consider the runway a part of the tarmac.

Is the gate stand part of the tarmac?

Yes

Is a parking area different from a ramp?

A parking area can be different from a ramp, but is not always. For example at an FBO, the parking area and the ramp are usually the same. The parking area for airliners is probably not on the ramp though.

Is a taxiway considered part of the apron?

No, since the apron is defined and intended to accommodate aircraft for the purpose of loading/unloading, etc. These are not operations you would perform on a taxiway.

Are aprons made of Tarmac?

They can be in the sense that they can also be made of concrete, asphalt, etc.

Is a de-icing area part of the ramp?

Yes

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