This guide is intended for employees who drive vehicles or motorized equipment on airports.Note to drivers: Please keep this guide and use it for reference and as a refresher.This guide provides a general overview of safe procedures for driving on an airport. It is not intended tocover specific conditions at all airports. Some local procedures are unique. If there are questions aboutdifferences between this guide and local procedures, they can be resolved by your supervisor or airportmanager.ForewardEveryone's cooperation is necessary to prevent potentially serious accidents on airports. The FAA has anongoing program aimed at pilots to help reduce runway incursions, pilot/controller miscommunications andairport surface mishaps. Employees who operate vehicles or equipment on airports also have keyresponsibilities in these efforts.By its nature, it is necessary for this guide to be generic. In addition to orientation and operationalinformation, the guide touches on some other areas that a ground vehicle operator may encounter, such asforeign object damage (FOD), security, and reporting emergencies. If this guide is used as a trainingdocument at a specific airport, be sure to include that airport diagram along with this guide. Some of thenecessary supplemental information is listed below: Airport rules and regulations concerning ground vehicle operations. Airport diagram showing runways, taxiways, aprons, movement areas, vehicle roadways, location ofthe airport fire station, critical areas for electronic navigational aids, and areas where vehicles arepermitted to operate. Airport security procedures that the employee should be aware of and the employees responsibilityin this area. Procedures, person to contact, and telephone number for reporting emergencies and ground vehicleaccidents.Any comments or suggestions on improving this guide are welcome and should be sent to the followingaddress:Federal Aviation AdministrationOffice of System Safety, ASY-300800 Independence Avenue, SWWashington, DC 20591
Section One - Airport BasicsThe following information explains the basic features of any airport. There may be important unique aspectsto the airports on which you drive, such as dedicated vehicle lanes, areas not visible to controllers, ornonstandard traffic patterns. Be aware and know the rules of your airport.RunwaysRunways have specific markings on them that are white. They will have numbers on each end and stripesdown the middle with white lines on the edges. Runways that are served by an instrument approach willhave more elaborate markings such as those shown in the figure. The most important thing to rememberabout a runway is that it is meant for aircraft use, so never drive your vehicle on it unless you are authorizedto do so.Runway Markings (not to scale)TaxiwaysTaxiways are areas used by the aircraft to get to and from the ramp and the runway. Taxiways look similar torunways, but are usually not as wide and they don't have the same kind of markings. Taxiway markings areyellow. Instead of numbers, taxiways use letters or letter/number combinations for designators. Likerunways, taxiways are meant for aircraft use. Authorization is normally required before you operate a vehicleon runways or taxiways. Aircraft cockpit windows are designed for pilots to see other aircraft. It can bedifficult or impossible for the flight crew of large aircraft to see vehicles, particularly behind the wings orunder the nose of the aircraft.
Aprons or RampsAprons or ramps are the areas where aircraft park, load, and unload. Your work may require you to drive onan apron. If so, be very careful. Watch out for aircraft that are moving and always yield the right-of-way tothem. Don't assume the pilot will see you and stop. He or she may be busy with other things like radiocommunications or checklist items.In addition to watching for moving aircraft, be careful not to get too close to a parked aircraft. Aside fromnicks and dents that are expensive to repair, you could be hurt if an aircraft suddenly started its engine andyou were too close. You should also be aware of the problem of jet blast or prop wash. There have beenseveral cases where vehicles have been overturned by jet blast. One way to tell if an aircraft is about to startits engine(s) or if the engine(s) is running is that the aircraft's flashing beacons will be on.SignsThe colors and sizes of signs are important. If the sign has white numbers on a red background, it is arunway holding position sign. These signs are important because they mean you are on the edge of theprotected area around a runway and must have permission to proceed.A yellow sign with black letters is a guidance sign. A black sign with yellow letters is a location sign. Thetaxiways at your airport may have these signs next to them. Examples are CARGO or TERM to identify whatthe parking area ahead is used for, or the direction to go to find that area.A driver would see these signs and markings when holding short of runway 18-36 at taxiway "G"
A taxiway sign with yellow letters and a black background will tell you which taxiway you are on and helpsyou determine your location. Some airports have these signs painted on the taxiways (see Figure 1 and 1a).Other airports have geographic position markings to use in determining a point on a taxiway (see Figure 2).Not all airports have implemented location signs and geographic position markings.LightsRunways are edged with white lights and taxiways have blue lights. Near the ends of runways, the lightsmay be two-sided. Amber on one side, white on the other. At the end of the runway you may also seerunway threshold lights. These are red on one side, green on the other. If the amber or red lights are visibleyou may be approaching the end of the runway. Remember, runway edge lights are white and taxiway edgelights are blue.MarkingsRunway markings are painted white. Taxiways have yellow markings. The center of the taxiway has a solidyellow stripe. The sides may have one or two solid yellow stripes along the edge. Again, not all airports havethese markings. As the taxiway comes up to the edge of the runway, you may see what pilots call a "hold"
line that looks like this. It is two solid yellow stripes followed by two broken yellow stripes. This is the airportversion of a stop sign. Along the side of the taxiway next to the holdline, there may be a runway holdingposition sign (red and white) with the runway number. ILS hold markings advise pilots and vehicle operatorswhere to stop to avoid interfering with aircraft navigational signals. At tower controlled airports, a clearanceis required to pass either of these markers and enter the runway. When exiting the runway you may see holdsigns with the same marks that appear on the taxiways. Be certain to go beyond these hold markings andsigns.Ramps have markings, as well, for aircraft parking and tie downs. Some airport ramps have specialmarkings for vehicle operations. If there are vehicle or roadway markings, you should always drive yourvehicle within those marked areas. Taxiways may also be marked on the apron to show aircraft routes togates and parking areas.Some airports have designated helicopter landing pads. This is depicted with an H inside of a square. Beespecially careful when you drive near helipads and look up for landing helicopters. Like all aircraft, youmust yield the right-of-way to a helicopter.Navigational AidsWhen driving near navigational aids, stay out of the protected areas around them to avoid interfering withtheir signals. If a road or taxiway is close enough to an ILS to affect it, there should be an ILS holdingposition sign like the one mentioned earlier.More SignsThere may be signs to remind pilots of noise abatement procedures or warning signs that tell vehicleoperators not to proceed beyond a certain point. You may see markings that identify the area of the airportunder air traffic control. These markings are yellow and consist of two yellow lines, one solid one dashed.The dashed line faces the area controlled by ATC. Other signs include "distance remaining" signs on therunway to tell the pilot how much runway length is left.
Section Two - Controlled AirportsIf your airport has an air traffic control tower, it is called a "controlled" airport whenever the tower isoperating. That means anyone wanting to fly into or out of the airport must first get permission from thecontroller. Aircraft on the ground and vehicles must also get permission from the controller to be on therunway or taxiways. (Controllers call these areas "movement areas"). As an operator of a vehicle, you mustget the controller's permission before you go onto a runway or taxiway, their associated safety areas, or anyother part of the movement area. There are at least two ways to get permission, by radio or advancedcoordination with ATC. Check the airport diagram and be sure of the location of the movement areas.Radio Communications Procedures1.Use an air-to-ground radio with the airport's ground control frequency on it. Each vehicle shouldhave a call sign identifying the vehicle.2.Know the proper phraseology and never use Citizen's Band (CB) lingo or law enforcement "ten"codes.3.Think about what you are going to say before calling the controller.4.Use the proper sequence in calling the controller. Before you start talking, make sure that no oneelse is already talking. Then you should:a) say who you are calling and who you are (e.g., "Cincinnati ground, Vehicle One").b) wait for the controller to respond. Sometimes it takes a while if they are busy. When the controllerresponds, state where you are and where you want to go. For example "Vehicle One is on theterminal ramp and would like to cross 18 Right at taxiway Alpha and proceed to the VOR." Wait forthe controller's response.c) the controller will either approve or deny your request, or issue special instructions. An example ofthe instructions would be "Vehicle One, proceed to, hold short of runway 18 Right." Acknowledgethat you have heard the controller's instructions. For example "Vehicle One, cleared to VOR, VehicleOne will hold short of 18 Right." Always repeat a "hold short" clearance. The section titled "AviationPhraseology" lists air traffic control phrases with definitions. You should know what they meanbefore going onto any runway or taxiway. Note: Use extreme caution when you hear the phrase "goahead." Controllers use this to mean "state your request." It never means "proceed!"Communications are not difficult with a little practice. If you are ever unsure what the controller said, or if youdon't understand an instruction, ASK THE CONTROLLER TO REPEAT IT WITH "SAY AGAIN." A controller,even one who is extremely busy, would rather repeat and explain something than to have amisunderstanding lead to an accident or runway incursion. Don't proceed thinking that the instructions willbecome clear once you go a little further.Advanced CoordinationWhen you contact the tower, you will receive instructions on how to proceed and what signals to expect.
Section Three - Nontowered AiportsWhen the tower is closed or if there is no tower, the airport is called nontowered. At a nontowered airportyou don't have to get a controller's permission before going onto a runway or taxiway. You should, however,always carry a radio tuned to the airport's common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) usually calledUNICOM. When you get near the runways and taxiways, SLOW DOWN! Look both ways, and then look UPfor aircraft that are landing or taking off. Always yield the right-of-way to taxiing aircraft and give them plentyof room. If an aircraft is on the same taxiway as you and headed in the opposite direction, move out of theaircraft's way. Be careful not to hit taxiway edge lights. If an aircraft is about to land on a runway that youneed to cross, stop and yield to the aircraft until it has landed and taxied clear of the runway. Then proceed.Traffic PatternsAircraft approaching a runway for landing follow a pattern. In most cases, the pattern is a rectangular boxwith the pilot making all turns to the left. In a few cases, airports will use right traffic patterns. Pilotsannounce their position using the names for segments of the traffic pattern (e.g., Woodbridge traffic, Cessna83 Bravo downwind, approaching base runway 19, Woodbridge). Remember that some aircraft that are notequipped with radios will be operating at nontowered airports, so always visually scan for traffic.Airport Traffic Pattern OperationsAircraft at nontowered airports frequently make "touch and go" landings where immediately after landing, fullpower is applied and the aircraft takes off again. Before you cross a runway, make sure the aircraft hasexited the runway or has gone past you.Extra vigilance is key at nontowered airports. Aircraft do not have to communicate or announce their positionin the pattern or on the surface. Some aircraft don't have radios. You can be lulled into complacency atnontowered airports because they usually aren't very busy, hence they don't justify a control tower. If you areused to not seeing any other traffic, don't expect this to always be the case. If your vehicle has a rotatingbeacon, be sure to turn it on anytime you are on the airport surface.Sometimes the runway gradient makes it impossible to see the entire length of the runway and an aircraftcan suddenly appear when you are crossing. It's best to cross runways at the end.
Section Four - Aviation PhraseologyAcknowledge - Let me know you have received and understand this message.Advise intentions - Tell me what you plan to do.Affirmative - Yes.Confirm - My version is. is that correct?Correction - An error has been made in the tranmission and the correct version follows.Go ahead - State your request (never means "proceed").Hold - Stop where you are.Hold short of. - Proceed to, but hold short of a specific point.Negative - No, or permission not granted, or that is not correct.Proceed - You are authorized to begin or continue moving.Read back - Repeat my message back to me.Roger - I have received all of your last transmission. (It should not be used to answer a yes or noquestion.)Say again - Repeat what you just said.Standby - Wait. I will get back to you. (Standby is not an approval or a denial. The caller shouldreestablish contact if the delay is lengthy.)Unable - I can't do it.Verify - Request confirmation of information.Wilco - I have received your message, understand it, and will comply.The Aviation AlphabetBecause some letters sound similar, the following words are used to reduce confusion. For example,taxiway B would be referred to as taxiway Bravo.A AlphaB BravoC CharlieD DeltaE EchoF FoxtrotG GolfH HotelI IndiaJ JulietK KiloL LimaM MikeN NovemberO OscarP PapaQ QuebecR RomeoS SierraT TangoU UniformV VictorWWhiskeyX X-rayY YankeeZ ZuluLight SignalsAir traffic controllers have a backup system for communicating with pilots if the aircraft's or controller'sradios fail. Controllers use a light gun with different colors to tell pilots or vehicle drivers what to do. If youare ever working on a runway or taxiway and your radio quits, you should turn your vehicle towards thetower, start flashing your headlights and the controller will signal you with the light gun.This may take some time if the controller's attention is directed towards another part of the airport.Alternatively, try another frequency (the tower or "local control" frequency) or telephone the tower if youhave access to a phone. BE PATIENT! Even a failed radio is not an excuse for proceeding without aproper clearance.
Light signals and their meanings:
Section Five - Other Important InformationForeign Object Damage (FOD)Trash or rocks sucked into a jet engine can shred parts of the engine in seconds. A rock caught by apropeller can damage the propeller, as well as become a deadly projectile. Make your airport a safer placeby putting all trash in a covered container that won't be blown over. Get in the habit of picking up any trashand rocks near aircraft movement areas. Also pick up nails, bolts, or pieces of metal that could cause FODor puncture tires. Avoid tracking mud and rocks onto the pavement surfaces.Reporting AccidentsIf you are involved in an accident, report it immediately to your supervisor. If a collision occurred betweenyou and an aircraft, it's critical that the aircraft not be flown until the damage can be inspected and repaired.Aircraft Rescue And Fire Fighting (ARFF)Just as when you are in highway traffic, if you see an airport emergency vehicle with its lights on, pull out ofits way and do not proceed until it is well clear of you.SecurityDepending on the type of airport you work on, the security system may be as simple as a fence or it mayinclude items as complicated as computer controlled automatic gates with television screen monitors. Atlarge air carrier airports, security may be provided by the airport's police department or a contractor. Atsmaller airports, the airport manager or the fixed base operator may be responsible for security.If you see a gate left open, close it, and then report it to the airport security office. If you see a strangevehicle on the apron or a vehicle that appears lost, stop it and offer assistance. Or, if your airport has asecurity department, contact them for help. If you work at an air carrier airport, the airport manager has acomplete security plan for the airport. Be sure you know what your responsibilities are and ask yoursupervisor if there is anything you are unsure about.Nighttime or Bad Weather DrivingIf you have to drive at night, it's a good idea to take someone with you the first couple of times who is familiarwith how the airport looks at night. It will look very different. The same applies if you are driving in badweather. In both cases, allow yourself a little extra travel time and drive slower than you normally would.Under winter conditions, signs and marking may be obscured by snow. Snow equipment may be operatingin low visibility conditions and may not see your vehicle. Use caution, remember there are extra riskspresent.
Section Six - QuizThis quiz tests your knowledge of rules, signs, and aviation phraseology. This quiz is not difficult but if youread this guide you should get most of the answers correct. If you don't understand, ask your supervisor foran explanation.1) A controller who says "go ahead" means:a. proceed as requested.b. continue straight ahead.c. state your message.2) The red and white sign next to the taxiway is called a runway hold position sign. If you are next to thissign, it means:a. that you are about to go onto the protected area next to the runway.b. that you should follow the sign to get to the parking apron.c. nothing to me, it's only there for the pilot's use.3) Two solid yellow stripes followed by two broken yellow stripes is the marking for a runway hold line.A hold line means:a. all aircraft must stop and be cleared before going onto the runway.b. everyone, including vehicles, must stop unless authorized to proceed onto the runway.c. that you are about to go next to some electronic signal equipment.4) Runway markings are:a. white.b. yellow.c. red.5) Taxiway marking are:a. white.b. yellow.c. red.6) A "controlled" airport is one that has an operating airport traffic control tower.a. Trueb. False7) FOD is caused by:a. bad weather conditions.b. the airport manager.c. trash and debris.8) If I have to cross a runway, I should try to do so:a. at the end.b. in the middle.c. wherever I want.9) If the air traffic controller signals me with a flashing red light, I should:a. stop.b. clear the runway or taxiway.c. ignore the signal as it is for aircraft only.10) If the air traffic controller signals me with a steady red light, I should:a. stop.b. clear the runway or taxiway.c. ignore the signal as it is for aircraft only.
11) Traffic patterns are used at controlled airports (those with towers) only.a. Trueb. False12) When driving in the area immediately behind a large jet aircraft with its engines running, a driver should:a. not be concerned about danger from the jet blast because a typical car/van is too heavy to beaffected.b. stop or stay well back and not proceed behind the aircraft until air traffic control has confirmed theaircraft is at idle power.c. cross the area of jet blast at a perpendicular angle to minimize the hazard.13) Unless contrary instructions have been received from air traffic control, a vehicle should always yield toanaircraft.a. Trueb. False14) If, at a nontowered airport, you see an aircraft approaching the runway to land when you are waiting tocross the same runway, you should:a. hold short of the runway until the aircraft is past the point at which you will cross the runway thenproceed when it is safe.b. proceed across if the aircraft has not announced its position on the UNICOM frequency.c. contact the pilot by radio and see if he or she intends to make a touch and go landing.d. flash your headlights at the aircraft.15) An aircraft that has announced its position on the UNICOM frequency as "downwind" at the nontoweredairport on which you are driving, is flying:a. perpendicular to the runway after initial climb and turn.b. parallel to the runway in the direction opposite landing.c. an approach to land with the wind instead of into the wind.d. too fast to spot until the aircraft slows down to land.16) If a controller gives you permission to do something which appears unsafe:a. you must comply or face disciplinary action.b. you should comply and then call your supervisor as soon as practicable.c. you should tell the controller your concerns and get clarification before proceeding.d. flash your headlights and proceed.17) Aircraft usually land and takeoff:a. into the wind.b. with the wind at their back.18) An aircraft that has announced its position as "short final" is:a. nearing the runway threshold for landing.b. about to make the last landing for the day.c. well outside of the airport traffic pattern.19) A touch and go landing involves:a. a landing without bouncing.b. a landing followed by immediate application of power to takeoff again without bringing the aircraft to astop.c. a lot of skill.d. aircraft flying in formation.
20) Which of the following will make driving on an airport more difficult?a. snow and ice.b. night driving.c. congested ATC frequencies.d. all of the above.21) An aircraft that has announced its position on the UNICOM frequency as "base leg" at the nontoweredairport on which you are driving, is flying:a. perpendicular to the runway after initial climb and turn.b. parallel to the runway in the direction opposite landing.c. perpendicular to the runway about to turn final and land.d. with a pilot at the controls whose foot is asleep.ANSWERS: 1.c, 2.a, 3.b, 4.a, 5.b, 6.a, 7.c, 8.a, 9.b, 10.a, 11.b, 12.b, 13.a, 14.a, 15.b, 16.c, 17.a, 18.a, 19.b, 20.d, 21.c
This guide has covered the basics of how to safely drive on an airport. Remember also to be courteous toyour fellow drivers, pay attention, don't get distracted, follow the rules and regulations, and set a goodexample. Eventually you will attain a comfortable working knowledge of how to safely get around. Thatcomes with experience. If there is something you don't understand, always ask before proceeding. As yourknowledge and experience grows, share it with new employees or counsel drivers that you see doingsomething that is questionable or unsafe.Other sources of informationFAA Videotape Runaway Incursions - "The Unseen Danger"(Video tape and extra copies of this guide available from ASY-300, 202-267-7770)PublicationsAeronautical Information Manual(Available from Government Printing Office)Airport/Facility DirectoryAirport diagrams contained in U.S. Terminal Procedures (Instrument Approach Plates)(The above publications are available from NOAA, 800-638-8972)Advisory Circular AC 5370.2D - Operational Safety on Airports During Construction(Available through DOT/FAA, 202-366-2795 Fax Request number)Pamphlets Airport Markings, Signs and Introduction SMGCS, ASY-20, 95/001 Runway Incursions, FAA/ASY-300 97/002
signs with the same marks that appear on the taxiways. Be certain to go beyond these hold markings and signs. Ramps have markings, as well, for aircraft parking and tie downs. Some airport ramps have special markings for vehicle operations. If there are vehicle or roadway markings, you should always drive your vehicle within those marked areas.