Tarmac Tech: 5 Innovations You Can Find at the Airport

4 min read

Many people are interested in the science and history of airplanes since they're perhaps the most remarkable form of transport that humanity has invented in recent history, but there's one very important piece of the puzzle that many don't give as much credit: the airport. It's a physical product of massive logistical achievement, with thousands of travelers entering and leaving an average airport every day, along with countless flights, and none of it ever gets jumbled together.

Guided Vehicles

Much of the magic that's present in airports occurs behind the scenes to ensure that passengers are serviced efficiently and that they don't have to worry about the processes that are going on in the background and one of the key tools used by airport staff is automatic guided vehicles or AGVs. These vehicles are the tools used to transfer bigger items like luggage for entire flights, which usually number in the hundreds of suitcases and separate items, filtering them in automatically without someone needing to be physically present. This means that staff can work more efficiently, help passengers with more problems, and overall be more useful to the airport, where they'd be spending more time loading luggage in an airplane instead. This invention has massively reduced the time it takes to take off, too.

Deicing Systems

You've likely wondered how airports in important or popular cities keep functioning if the area is really cold or faces rain and snow regularly, and this is a much bigger problem than you may be expecting. The only workaround that many airports have developed is the deicing system, which itself needs a ton of maintenance, upkeep, and investment every year just to keep travel afloat through some of the worst conditions of the year. Planes are especially susceptible to getting snow and ice buildup since they're high in the atmosphere for long periods and have massive wings, and staff can use infrared heat as well as specially prepared fluids to counter this issue.

Remote Monitoring

Planes are massive pieces of equipment, and they require intensive care and maintenance, so much so that even a minor fault is enough to postpone or cancel a flight or, worse, cause a serious incident when the plane is in the air.

That's why many airports have developed a great system, using technology to be able to monitor and keep tabs on planes before liftoff, landing, and while they’re in the air, proactively diagnosing issues in the aircraft and performing maintenance on the go, reducing the time the plane will have to spend in the hangar for a more in-depth maintenance plan, and speeding up efficiency.

In-hangar Maintenance

As previously mentioned, the most in-depth maintenance that planes get happens during the time they’re in the hangar, during which they’re taken off the regular flight list and technicians work tirelessly to make it airworthy again. To this end, airports have a lot of innovative items and technology that range from an airport tug to transport the plane and move it accurately inside the hangar to sophisticated pieces of equipment and software that can automatically test systems, identify faults, and perform stress tests so that the plane is in full working condition by the time maintenance is complete.

Ground Support Equipment

Another important piece of the puzzle of maintaining regular flights in an airport is ground support equipment, something that every airport uses to make sure their planes are functioning since planes regularly need to be topped up with things like oxygen, fluid, hydraulic fluid, and emptied of waste and other things that have built up over a long flight. Ground support equipment fulfills all of these needs, and provides many others, such as generating energy that planes used to power their systems before the engines are on.


The business of managing planes, coordinating landings and takeoffs, and keeping a regular schedule is hard enough, but airports manage to do that and service hundreds or even thousands of passengers every single day without fail and often without any delay. It's a remarkable invention and is held together through the collective effort of hundreds and some incredible technology that helps it to achieve things it otherwise could not.

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