Situated on the outskirts of greater London, Heathrow Airport is the largest airport in Europe, and is one of the busiest and best connected airports in the United Kingdom. It is also commonly classified as the European Mainport so it sees a lot of commercial traffic in addition to the civilian traffic that has made it so popular and famous. However, Heathrow Airport didn’t start out as the thriving mainstay of air traffic that it is today and it certainly wasn’t always the main airport in London – that privilege went to Croydon Airport which was a combined airfield that was opened in 1920. Plans for Heathrow only started to take form in the 1930s and it was a privately owned Aerodrome that functioned as an aircraft assembly and testing field. It was named for the small hamlet of Heath Row which was demolished to make way for the airport and initially it was not used for commercial traffic at all.
Things changed drastically in 1944 when the Ministry of Air took over control of the airport, realized the airport’s potential as a civil aviation airport and requisitioned it on the basis of using it as a military base for long-range transport aircraft during the war. Heathrow Airport never saw any military usage but instead quickly became a civil airport. Heathrow conducted its first civil flight in 1946 when an airplane departed from Heathrow en route to Buenos Aires. Just five months later it became a fully-operational civilian airport.
Initially the airport had three short runways and no permanent terminal building but that soon changed, and today Heathrow has four passenger terminals with a fifth one on the way. It is a public airport that is operated by BAA and it serves the greater city of London. While it initially had six runways it now has just two which are parallel to each other and run east to west. The first is 12,799 feet (3,901 meters) in length and the second is 12,008 feet (3,660 meters). Both are surfaced with grooved asphalt. Unfortunately the airports location means that it receives strong westerly winds for about 80% of the year, requiring approaching aircraft to fly low and this creates a serious noise pollution problem for those living in the vicinity. The airport is also low-lying and this makes it prone to fog. However despite these inconveniences the airport is still well structured and well-serviced, with an excellent safety record. Heathrow Airport is connected to the London Underground which makes travel to and from the airport very easy.
Airbus opened for business in 1970, and by 2006 had grown to employ 55,000 people. Airbus manufactures aircraft that have more than 100 seats. Based in Toulouse in France, Airbus is an European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company. They produce 14 different aircraft, including the A380, which will have seating for 555 people and be the world’s largest civil airliner.
Airbus also manufactures aerial tankers used for military transport and in-flight refueling. Airbus plants are located across Europe. Each plant manufactures various sections of the aircraft, which are completely assembled in Toulouse and Hamburg.
Singapore, with its beautiful countryside and intriguing culture, is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. More and more people are making the decision to visit this great island and air travel is the most popular and convenient way to get here. At the moment there are approximately nine airports in Singapore – each of which have a paved runway. These are Changi, Paya Lebar, Seletar, Sembawang and Tengah. Each of these are classified as civilian airports and Changi International Airport has the longest runway with a length of 13,000 ft. Seletar is somewhat smaller with only 5,300 ft of paved runway. Changi, Seletar, Paya Lebar and Tengah have a customs service and the latter two require prior notification before arrival – something worth keeping in mind if you are chartering your own flight.
Changi International Airport is the most popular since it enjoys state of the art facilities and is also the largest in the country. Changi has over 160 different retail outlets and over 80 different restaurants and diners where you can satisfy your hunger after doing some great shopping. You can even shop online at the airport by visiting their official website! Changi has all the usual facilities such as restrooms, waiting benches and rest areas but also enjoys nappy-changing facilities, showers, fitness and spa service, bar lounges with enjoyable music and even a swimming pool should you feel the need to unwind. Businessmen will be happy to know that it has Internet services and a CIP Terminal, while those looking for a way to unwind or an introduction to the country’s natural beauty should consider taking a walk through one of the airport’s main themed gardens.
Not every airport in Singapore is as well designed and has as many facilities as what Changi does. However, most of the larger airports are clean and neat and even the smaller ones are perfectly adequate.
Airports in Singapore:
Seletar Airport (IATA: XSP and ICAO: WSSL) is a relatively small airport situated near the Lower Seletar Reservoir. Located just 13 km out of downtown Singapore, the airport is convenient to reach. Interestingly, Seletar Airport in Singapore was constructed by the British forces in the area at the time. It was built prior to World War II for use as a military base. Britain retained the airport until 1968. Thereafter, it came under the management of Singapore’s Department of Civil Aviation. Today, Seletar Airport is a public airport for joint military and civil use operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.
There are 27 aircraft hangars at the airport, with a single asphalt runway for landing and take-off. The runway stands in a 03/21 direction and measures in at 5,223 feet, or 1,592 meters. Navigational Aids at Seletar include Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI), Aerodiomel Beacon and Visual Flight Rules (VFR). The airfield is a fire category 6/4 and has a fire service as well as medical evacuation facilities. No training operation or circuit flying is permitted at Seletar between 14:00 and 23:00 UTC.
The majority of flights handled at Singapore’s Seletar Airport are made by several flying schools. Other activities include charters, maintenance and repairs. The 3 airlines operating at Seletar are Berjaya Air, Airmark Aviation and Batam Logistics. The airport also deals with cargo and has a warehouse area measuring 100m squared with the capacity to deal with 840t a day.
Passengers making use of Seletar airport are well catered for with 2 check-in counters, credit card telephones, VIP lounge, passenger service, disabled amenities, a vending machine and a canteen nearby. Airport parking at Seletar is plentiful and there is a convenient pick-up/drop-off point. There are many options for traveling to and from Seletar airport. A taxi stall is situated outside of the Arrival hall and operates 24 hours a day. Passengers can also use buses or the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit line.
The Singapore Youth Flying Club operates from Seletar Airport. This club was created by the country’s Ministry of Defense with the purpose of promoting an interest in aviation amongst the youth as well as to provide flight training. Youths who join the club can earn their Private Pilot’s License and enjoy aeromodelling courses.