Wondering about the definition of tarmac? Keep reading to learn the meaning of tarmac, see some examples, and get a better understanding of this travel glossary term!
What is Tarmac?
In airport terminology, tarmac is now used primarily to refer to paved areas at an airport.
Most often, tarmac is used to mean the apron or ramp areas where planes are loaded, unloaded, parked, refueled, boarded, and or deplaned. Similarly, tarmac can also refer to the runway, which is the long, rectangular strip set aside specifically for aircraft to use for takeoff and landing, or the taxiway, which is a path used for aircraft to move from one point in the airport to another.
However, tarmac originally was defined as a particular material and construction form used to pave roads and runways.
More on Tarmac
Tarmac comes from tarmacadam, a material and method used for road surfacing made by combining tar, sand, and macadam surfaces. Macadam was a type of road construction pioneered in the early 1800s where a shallow layer of small stones was compacted and then stone dust used to fill in the cracks and form a solid road.
Tarmacadam was patented in 1902 by Welsh inventor Edgar Purnell Hooley, who used tar combined with macadam, invented in 1820 by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam.
While tarmac was once used as airport surfacing material, concrete is primarily used these days, specifically Portland cement concrete, asphalt concrete, or porous friction course.
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