Aircraft Positioning is the process of moving an aircraft from one position to another to increase efficiency at an airport. This helps the flow of busy airports, eases congestion and delays, and makes the airport controller’s job a little bit easier. The exact spot that an aircraft is located is usually related to what task the aircraft will need to do next. Controllers in the tower of the airport monitor aircraft positions with extreme precision to ensure that the flow of aircraft is at its maximum.
For example, an aircraft that is due for maintenance before it can take another flight should not be positioned at a gate in the terminal. This would take up a gate spot, delay aircraft arrivals, and be an inefficient means to perform the required maintenance. Instead, this aircraft would be parked next to the maintenance hanger for the mechanics to work on it.
An airliner that has just landed and is waiting for its gate to clear before the passengers can leave the plane would not be parked right next to the gate, because this would congest the terminal and other airplanes would not be able to leave. Instead, waiting aircraft are usually parked in a holding area while the pilots wait for the gate to clear.
The absolute best example of efficient aircraft positioning is aboard a U.S. Naval Aircraft Carrier. Because space is very precious on the deck of an aircraft carrier, aircraft must be stored in certain positions to maximize the available space for launching or landing planes. When a carrier needs to launch aircraft, the parked planes are moved to the aft of the ship to allow the departing aircraft room to take off. When an aircraft needs to land, the parked planes are moved to the front so that there is room for the landing airplanes. Controllers in the ship monitor the location of each aircraft. Here, an aircraft carrier positions planes so that others can land on the deck: