The National Academies

ACRP 07-09 [Final]

Apron Planning and Design Guidebook

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Ricondo & Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Colleen Quinn
Effective Date: 6/15/2012
Completion Date: 7/31/2013


Apron design permits safe and efficient aircraft operations and facilitates the on- and off-loading of passengers and cargo, as well as aircraft servicing. The design considers the movement and physical characteristics of the aircraft to be served; the maneuvering, staging, and location of ground service equipment; and the dimensional relationships of parked aircraft relative to the terminal or ancillary facilities.
There exists, however, no single document providing consistent and thorough guidance on apron planning, design, and markings. This has resulted in apron layouts and markings that not only vary from airport to airport, but within airports. As a result, a comprehensive guidebook is needed to address the best practices to apron design that will lead to enhanced operational efficiency and safety.


The objective of this research was to develop a guidebook that provides best practices for planning, designing, and marking apron areas for all sizes of airports in the United States. This guidebook is intended to be used by airport operators, airlines, and design consultants. The apron design and operational considerations include, at a minimum, the following:
  • Facility geometrics (exploring relationship between aeronautical surfaces (e.g.,14 CFR Part 77), buildings, aprons and apron access points)
  • Markings (i.e., lead-in and lead-out lines, aircraft safety envelope, GSE safety boxes)
  • Lighting
  • Aircraft design groups that include retrofit, nextgen, and existing aircraft
  • Taxiways, taxilanes, and vehicle service roads
  • Engine start-up positions/Power versus tow/Jet blast/Noise
  • Ground Service Equipment (GSE) operations /fueling
  • Snow removal operations

The final deliverables include: (1) a guidebook providing best practices for apron planning and design; (2) a final report that documents the entire research effort, including any assumptions used and the research team’s recommendation of research needs and priorities for additional related research; and (3) a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation that summarizes the research and best practices of the guidebook to be used in presentations to the industry.


The final deliverable has been published as Report 96. For more information about the research, please refer to the contractor's final report.

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