The Five Configurations

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Boston College
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There are five major terminal settings which differ in different ways. The differences give a particular type of terminal configuration a practical advantage or disadvantage over the others. From my personal experience and interaction with the various terminal configurations over my many years of air travels, I can rank them as follows:

Compact module unit terminal.

This is the best configuration module for a terminal according to personal experience with the different modules. It has considerably eased aircraft maneuverability within the terminus. The walking distances for the passengers have also been significantly reduced compared to the other configurations. The kerb length in this configuration is longer than the central terminal making it more convenient and efficient to the passengers (de Neufville, de Barros & Belin, 2017). Within the terminus, each module can provide secure transportation of passengers and baggage, and there are minimal chances of mishandling of baggage as it can easily happen in transporter configuration.

The pier configuration

This form of passenger configuration is also called the finger configuration. It is a kind of passenger terminus arrangement which is constructed in a manner that there is a small building which is long and narrow with aircraft parked on both sides of the building. One end of the building leads to the passengers to the ticketing booth while the other serves as the entrance to the terminal. This configuration can handle a high capacity of aircraft. It also economizes significantly on the use of land. Its constructional design allows it to handle a large number of aircraft within a sizeable piece of land since the aircraft are parked on both sides. It is quite economic in the construction compared to the other configurations. Its architectural design of having a long and narrow building for passenger movement offers a straightforward and economic constructional design (Wachi & Masuda, 1990).

The satellite configuration

This is a form of a configuration where a building is set aside away from other building in the airport where aircraft pack around the building to form a circumference. In this type of configuration, some airports have constructed underground tunnels and walkways, and others have advanced to provide shuttle services to connect the passengers to the main terminus (Wachi & Masuda, 1990). Its centrality design gives it an advantage whereby most passenger services are centralized and easily accessible. It also offers a future expansion advantage whereby other satellites can be constructed in future for the sake of expansion of the airport.

The linear configuration

This is a form of an arrangement where aircraft park on one side in a direct manner where passengers can walk along the adjacent side to access the aircraft and other passenger services. It assumes the design of a long building with aircraft parked along it and the aircraft can maneuver in and out of their parking bays. Similar to the pier configuration, passengers are forced to walk for long distances in accessing different services, and it sometimes might result in passenger congestion along the walking aprons (Wachi & Masuda, 1990).

The transporter configuration.

This is a form of configuration which its primary operational goal is to reduce the movements and congestion of the passengers. The passengers are directly transported to the aircraft by specially built vehicles instead of them walking and using stairs and tunnels to access the aircraft. It is however, a time-consuming form of configuration making it has a significant disadvantage compared to the other types (Airport passenger terminal planning and design, 2010). The time taken to load and offload passengers and load quite long leading to considerable delays making it not a traditional terminus configuration.

When planning for the construction of an airport terminal facility, quite a number of factors need to be considered in order to serve the different variety of passengers adequately. In line with these, the environmental aspects, the safety of the terminal, the operational logistics, and the financial and commercial implications of the terminal have to be fully factored in the plan.


Airport passenger terminal planning and design. (2010). Washington, D.C.

de Neufville, R., de Barros, A., & Belin, S. (2017). Optimal Configuration Of Airport Passenger Buildings For Travelers. Retrieved 23 July 2017, from, K., & Masuda, Y. (1990). Planning model - airport. Batiment International, Building Research and Practice, 18(6), 372-377.

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