An airport reference point is the centre point of an airport, located at the geometric centre of all the usable runways. The ARP is computed as a weighted average of the end of runway coordinates.

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    $\begingroup$ What coordinate would you propose when somebody asks where an airport is located? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 18 '20 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer, why don't make an answer out of that comment? $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Apr 18 '20 at 17:56

I don't know which country you are referring to. These are countries that rely on TERPs for instrument procedures.

From the FAA TERPs Order 8260.3D


  1. Airport reference point (ARP). The official horizontal geographic location of an airport. It is the approximate geometric center of all usable runways at an airport.

Page 2-16: The ARP is used to center the MSA on the airport.

Page 3-7: The ARP is used to determine the distance requirements of remote altimeter settings.

Page 11-5: The ARP is used to align the FAC with a circling only approach.

Page 14-31: The ARP is used to center the VCOA (Visual Climb over Airfield)


Sometimes you just need a single lat/lon for "where this airport, is." The ARP depicts where "the point" for this airport, is on this airport.

Why is that an interesting thing to have on an airport diagram? Dunno, I've never needed it. But I suppose somebody might. Maybe if you were aligning your INS, and you wanted to know if just typing in the airport ID (which pulls the airport coordinates from the data base) would get you close to where you're located, you could compare your location on the airfield with where the ARP is, and decide whether it's worth the trouble or not to measure exactly where you are on the chart. Of course, with GPS available, there's a much easier way to find your exact present position. So maybe the ARP has less utility now than in the days before GPS.

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    $\begingroup$ One possible use is measuring the distance between airports in a standard way, e.g. the 50NM requirement for (some) US cross countries. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Apr 19 '20 at 2:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Pondlife That's a use for having the coordinates -- no shortage of those. The use for having the ARP depicted on the chart is what I'm not coming up with, other than the (somewhat of a stretch) INS example. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 19 '20 at 4:11
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I agree. Maybe I missed something but the question didn't mention charts so I'm not sure if the OP is asking about the depiction, the use, or both. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Apr 19 '20 at 5:38

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