The airport ramp or apron is part of an airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...
. It is usually the area where aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...
are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled or boarded. Although the use of the apron is covered by regulations, such as lighting on vehicles, it is typically more accessible to users than the runway
According to ICAO a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and take-off of aircraft." Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface .- Orientation and dimensions :Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally one tenth...
A taxiway is a path on an airport connecting runways with ramps, hangars, terminals and other facilities. They mostly have hard surface such as asphalt or concrete, although smaller airports sometimes use gravel or grass....
. However, the apron is not usually open to the general public and a license may be required to gain access.
The use of the apron may be controlled by the apron management service (apron control or apron advisory). This would typically provide a coordination service between the users.
The apron is designated by the ICAO as not being part of the maneuvering area. All vehicles, aircraft and people using the apron are referred to as apron traffic.
In the USA, the words apron and ramp are used interchangeably in most circumstances. Generally, the pre-flight activities are done in ramps; and areas for parking and maintenance are called aprons. Passenger gates
A gate in aviation is a long, movable, "bridge" that allows passengers to embark and disembark their aircraft.* Jetway bridges* Air stairs, either built into the aircraft or from a mobile vehicle* Mobile lounges...
are the main feature of a terminal ramp. As the word apron is part of the ICAO terminology but the word ramp is not, the word ramp is not used with this meaning outside the USA.