Goal: Reducing Runway Incursions

Preventing runway incursions is one of the Federal Aviation Administration’s highest priorities. Not only do they have the potential to put lives at risk due to the number and proximity of aircraft operating on the airport surface, but they take...


As a matter of fact, air traffic reported vehicle operators had acknowledged and read the instructions back correctly; however, they still proceeded into the movement area, crossed active runways, and entered active taxiways without proper authorization or clearance. When the completed investigation reports were analyzed, it became apparent that quite a few of the vehicle operators may have been unfamiliar with the markings and signs that were associated with ATC instructions.

Recognition and understanding of markings, especially those associated with ATC instructions, is of paramount importance to preventing incursions. Through communications, FAA seeks to determine if it was a failure on the part of vehicle operators to recognize airport markings that lead to the incursions, or if operators were preoccupied performing other tasks.

Airport operators should keep vehicular and pedestrian activity on the airside of the airport to a minimum. Vehicles on the airside of the airport should be limited to those necessary to support the operation of aircraft services, cargo and passenger services, emergency, and maintenance of the airport. Vehicles should use service roads or public roads in lieu of crossing movement areas whenever possible. Where vehicular traffic on airport operation areas cannot be avoided, it should be carefully controlled.

Navigating the Airfield

Most towered airports have markings, signs, and lights designed to assist in navigating around an airfield.

Runways are identified by wide, white-painted edge lines and a white-painted dashed centerline. Taxiways are marked with double yellow-painted edge lines and a yellow-painted solid centerline. The yellow taxiway centerlines may lead on, 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, centerline, and touchdown zone. However, on instrument runways the last 2,000 feet will have yellow edge lights. Taxiways are illuminated with blue edge lights (or reflectors) and green centerline 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.

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