I was at a conference where there was a discussion on ontology for assets. There were two classification trees, one for assets on the flight line and one for assets on the tarmac.

What is the nuance between these? Is it active aircraft vs. inactive aircraft?


1 Answer 1


The nuance is between aircraft that have been / will be flying imminently, and aircraft that are more than a few hours away from doing so.

  • Apron (U.S., ramp) is where aircraft refuel, load/unload, etc.

  • Flight line is, in the popular press, where aircraft are parked, maintained, and displayed. This usage is duplicated by aeromodelling clubs, although their time scale is closer to minutes than hours. (Wikipedia claims, without substantiation, that flight line is the U.S. military term for tarmac, ahem, apron.)

  • Tarmac (U.S., asphalt) is a paving material, one possible surface for runways and roads. It's not an aviation term. Informally, it means apron: we hear about tarmac delays, never about flight line delays.

  • $\begingroup$ Tarmac (British English term, mostly, in the US it would be asphalt or blacktop) is more properly a paving material. In addition to roads, it's also used for runways, parking areas, &c. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 18, 2019 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ Good points. Incorporated. $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2019 at 18:42

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