Driving on the Airport

Vehicle deviations, reports Paul Foster.


Most towered airports have markings, signs and lights designed to assist you in navigating around the airfield. Runways are identified by the wide, white-painted edge lines and white-painted dashed center line. Taxiways are marked with double yellow-painted edge lines and a yellow-painted solid center line. Remember, the yellow taxiway center lines may lead on, lead off, or cross a runway.

During low visibility or night operations, the runways, in addition to the white-painted markings, have white lights along the edge, center line and touchdown zone. However, it should be noted that on instrument runways the last 2,000 feet have yellow edge lights. Taxiways are illuminated with blue edge lights (or reflectors) and green center line lights (or reflectors). Vehicle operators need to know that when these markings, signs and lights are missed or ignored, the opportunity for errors increases. Guidance on how to operate safely in the airport environment is critical.

What Can Be Done?

The Office of Runway Safety & Operational Services offers the following recommendations:

(1) Airport operators should establish training procedures and policies concerning vehicle access and vehicle operation on the airside of the airport. These training procedures and policies should address such matters as access, vehicle operator requirements, vehicle requirements, operations and enforcement and should be incorporated into tenant leases and agreements.
(2) Vehicles that routinely operate on the airside should be marked or flagged for high daytime visibility and, if appropriate, lighted for nighttime operations. Vehicles that are equipped with marking and lighting devices should escort vehicles that are not marked and lighted.
(3) Companies operating on the airport should invest some time in conducting training on airfield markings, signs and lights or ensure that their vehicle operators attend equivalent training that may be conducted by airport operations. This training should be specific to the airport where they operate.

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