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Airport Markings and Signs

by Flight Learnings

in Airport Operations

There are markings and signs used at airports, which provide directions and assist pilots in airport operations. Some of the most common markings and signs are discussed. Additional information may be found in Chapter 2, Aeronautical Lighting and Other Airport Visual Aids, in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

Runway Markings

Runway markings vary depending on the type of operations conducted at the airport. Figure 13-3 shows a runway that is approved as a precision instrument approach runway and some other common runway markings. A basic VFR runway may only have centerline markings and runway numbers.

Figure 13-3. Selected airport markings and surface lighting.

Figure 13-3. Selected airport markings and surface lighting.

Since aircraft are affected by the wind during takeoffs and landings, runways are laid out according to the local prevailing winds. Runway numbers are in reference to magnetic north. Certain airports have two or even three runways laid out in the same direction. These are referred to as parallel runways and are distinguished by a letter added to the runway number (e.g., runway 36L (left), 36C (center), and 36R (right)).

Another feature of some runways is a displaced threshold. A threshold may be displaced because of an obstruction near the end of the runway. Although this portion of the runway is not to be used for landing, it may be available for taxiing, takeoff, or landing rollout. Some airports may have a blast pad/stopway area. The blast pad is an area where a propeller or jet blast can dissipate without creating a hazard. The stopway area is paved in order to provide space for an aircraft to decelerate and stop in the event of an aborted takeoff. These areas cannot be used for takeoff or landing.

Taxiway Markings

Aircraft use taxiways to transition from parking areas to the runway. Taxiways are identified by a continuous yellow centerline stripe and may include edge markings to define the edge of the taxiway. This is usually done when the taxiway edge does not correspond with the edge of the pavement. If an edge marking is a continuous line, the paved shoulder is not intended to be used by an aircraft. If it is a dashed marking, an aircraft may use that portion of the pavement. Where a taxiway approaches a runway, there may be a holding position marker. These consist of four yellow lines (two solid and two dashed). The solid lines are where the aircraft is to hold. At some towered airports, holding position markings may be found on a runway. They are used when there are intersecting runways, and ATC issues instructions such as “cleared to land—hold short of runway 30.”

Other Markings

Some other markings found on the airport include vehicle roadway markings, VOR receiver checkpoint markings, and non-movement area boundary markings.Vehicle roadway markings are used when necessary to define a pathway for vehicle crossing areas that are also intended for aircraft. These markings usually consist of a solid white line to delineate each edge of the roadway and a dashed line to separate lanes within the edges of the roadway. In lieu of the solid lines, zipper markings may be used to delineate the edges of the vehicle roadway. [Figure 13-4]

Figure 13-4. Vehicle roadway markings.

Figure 13-4. Vehicle roadway markings.

A VOR receiver checkpoint marking consists of a painted circle with an arrow in the middle. The arrow is aligned in the direction of the checkpoint azimuth. This allows pilots to check aircraft instruments with navigational aid signals.

A non-movement area boundary marking delineates a movement area under ATC. These markings are yellow and located on the boundary between the movement and non-movement area. They normally consist of two yellow lines (one solid and one dashed).

Airport Signs

There are six types of signs that may be found at airports. The more complex the layout of an airport, the more important the signs become to pilots. Figure 13-5 shows examples of signs, their purpose, and appropriate pilot action. The six types of signs are:

Figure 13-5. Airport signs.

Figure 13-5. Airport signs.

  • Mandatory instruction signs—red background with white inscription. These signs denote an entrance to a runway, critical area, or prohibited area.
  • Location signs—black with yellow inscription and a yellow border, no arrows. They are used to identify a taxiway or runway location, to identify the boundary of the runway, or identify an instrument landing system (ILS) critical area.
  • Direction signs—yellow background with black inscription. The inscription identifies the designation of the intersecting taxiway(s) leading out of an intersection.
  • Destination signs—yellow background with black inscription and also contain arrows. These signs provide information on locating things, such as runways, terminals, cargo areas, and civil aviation areas.
  • Information signs—yellow background with black inscription. These signs are used to provide the pilot with information on such things as areas that cannot be seen from the control tower, applicable radio frequencies, and noise abatement procedures. The airport operator determines the need, size, and location of these signs.
  • Runway distance remaining signs—black background with white numbers. The numbers indicate the distance of the remaining runway in thousands of feet.

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