Aerodromes Commentary

General Information for Aerodromes

In Canada, an aerodrome is "any area of land, water (including the frozen surface thereof) or other supporting surface used, designed, prepared, equipped or set apart for use either in whole or in part for the arrival, departure, movement or servicing of aircraft."

Read that carefully and you will realize that if you move all the cars over to one half of a parking lot so a helicopter can land on the other half, you have made an aerodrome (you "prepared" it). If you land on a dirt road you are at an aerodrome (you "used" it). If a floatplane lands in your swimming pool, according to the above definition it's an aerodrome. AIP-AGA 2.1 actually states, "for the most part, all of Canada can be an aerodrome."

To protect the travelling public, and owners of large swimming pools, some aerodromes are inspected for safety standards. These are marked on aeronautical charts and published in the Canada Flight Supplement (or in the Water Aerodrome Supplement if it is a seaplane landing area). Any aerodrome published in the CFS or WAS is considered to be a registered aerodrome, that is all that registered means. CARs 101.01 rather unhelpfully tells us that registered aerodrome "means an aerodrome registered by the Minister pursuant to Subpart 1 of Part III"  

CARs 302.03 tells us that if an aerodrome complies with another, more stringent, set of standards, it may be certified as an airport. You can identify airports in the CFS because they have the word Cert in the OPR section. 

It's your responsibility to ensure the aerodrome you plan to use is adequate for your airplane, and to learn the layout and procedures, so you don't end up like the pilots in this joke

Question-by-Question Explanation of Aerodromes

(1) There is no legal distinction between aerodromes with different types of runway surface.
(2) I don't believe there are any aerodromes with control towers that are not certified as airports, but it is not the control tower that makes it an airport. An airport with a control tower is called a controlled airport in Canada, and a towered airport in the United States.
(3) A registered aerodrome is any aerodrome listed in the CFS or WAS.
(4) Certified means certified as an airport.


A standard Transport Canada windsock has three orange stripes on it, separated by white stripes. When there is no wind, the whole sock hangs straight down from the frame. As the wind picks up, the sock starts to extend. When the wind is blowing hard enough to extend a dry windsock straight out, the wind is blowing at least 15 knots. (If it's wet, the wind needs to be a few knots stronger to extend the windsock fully). As a rule of thumb, the wind is blowing at about five knots per orange stripe that is inflated. The picture here accurately shows the colours of the standard striped windsock, but the artist has shown the tail of the windsock inflated in a way that does not usually occur. Based on the top of the windsock in the picture, it is indicating about 6-7 knots: a little more than the first stripe is extended. The tail should be hanging down more. While looking for a better windsock picture, I found some pictures of non-standard windsocks, that may amuse you.

CARS 301.08 tells us this, and other things we're not allowed to do on an airport.
(1) You can find out who the operator of the airport is by looking in the OPR section of the CFS entry for the airport.  A vehicle might obtain such permission to tow a disabled aircraft to a hangar, for snow removal, or to bring a medivac patient to an airplane.
(2) A lot of uncontrolled airports don't HAVE a security officer.
(3) The RCMP might be the ones called out to get you OFF the airport if you were drag racing on the runways, but they aren't the ones to ask for permission to go on.
(4) Sadly, your flight instructor is unable to give you permission to drive your car onto the runway.

(1) Red flags may be used to mark off unusable areas of the apron, but not the taxiways and runways.
(2) I've never seen such a marking at any airport.
(3) The X's might be painted, but they could be on tarpaulins, with dye on snow, or with poles laid out on the runway, depending on how permanent or temporary the closure is.
(4) This answer is just a red herring.

Runway numbering is based on the compass direction of the runway. As you fly towards the runway, the first two digits of the compass heading is the runway number. So landing on runway 24, you are going southwest, at approximately 240 degrees.
(1) Aircraft landing at the west end of the runway are going east, therefore flying 090 degrees, so the runway is 09.
(2) Remember, it's the first two digits, not the last two: 90 degrees is 090.
(3) An airplane flying 270 is going west, but the end of the runway it is approaching is the east end of the runway.
(4) There are no 3-digit runway numbers.

(1) Once you have been cleared to take off, or cleared to position on the runway, you do not need to stop at the line. It is posible to receive a take off clearance while you are still taxiing, so you reach the hold short line and just keep going onto the runway.
(2) Until you have clearance to cross that line, you MUST stop and wait for clearance.
(3)&(4) If you are on the runway side of the line, you do not need permission to cross the line and exit the runway.

The standard distance that unauthorized aircraft, pedestrians and vehicles are asked to maintain is 200 feet. That's about 60 metres.

Transport Canada defines two terms, manoeuvering area and movement area. The manoeuvering area is the area used for taxiing, take-off and landing. The movement area is the manoeuvering area plus the aprons. In other words, the manoeuvering area is just the runways and taxiways, while the movement area includes the parking areas. You can remember this by thinking that taxiing and taking off are more complicated, fancy manoeuvers than just parking, and manoeuvering is certainly a fancier word than movement. A question on these terms will probably turn up on your private pilot written examination, too.
(1) The ramp or apron is the area where you park, preflight the aircraft, and walk around looking at airplanes you think you might like to own. It is part of the movement area, but is not included in the manoeuvering area.
(2) That describes the movement area.
(3) The taxiways are included in both movement and manoeuvering areas.
(4) Exactly. The taxiways and runways.

(1) At 2000' you are 500' above aircraft that are checking out the airport for landing, and you are in agreement with CARs 602.96.
(2) 1500' is usually 500' above circuit altitude, the recommended altitude for overflying the runway to determine the direction of landing.
(3) 1000' is the normal circuit altutude.
(4) 500' is way too low. You'd be interfering with circuit altitude. See the commentary on section 12 for a diagram of different overflight restrictions.

4.10 In a fixed wing aircraft, try to avoid taxiing over or near any helicopter landing areas. If you must taxi over them, be sure to scan the sky above and keep a listening watch on frequency for any arriving rotary wing craft. Never park your fixed wing aircraft on a helipad.

A is a hospital heliport.
B is a heliport.
C is arrival and departure hover area aiming point marking.
D is apron and touchdown pad marking.

Back to the Questions for this Section | On to the Questions for the Next Section

Back to Commentary on Previous PSTAR Section | On to Next PSTAR Commentary Section

This page written 8 October 2002 by Robyn Stewart.  Last revised  29 December 2002.

Robyn's Flying Start Home
Cessna 150 head on

PSTAR Commentary Sections
















Other Student Pilot Resources
What Canadian student pilots need to know

PSTAR References
Links and how to use the A.I.P.  the CARs and the CFS

Transport Canada Exam Guides
Study guides and flight test standards

Search all of

Contact Robyn
Send me e-mail