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Airport marking and signs are used to provide direction to pilots for airport operations. Airport marking are painted on the surface, whereas signs are vertical. It is very important that pilots be familiar with airport markings and signs.

Runway Markings and Signs:

Runway markings can vary depending on the type of operation. There are three types of markings for runways:

  • Visual

  • Non-precision instrument

  • Precision instrument

If a visual runway has aiming point markings, it is 4,000 feet or longer or used by jet aircraft.

Runway numbers are in reference to magnetic north. With airports that have two or more parallel runways, they will have the runway number and a letter to distinguish them, such as runway 36L (left), 36C (center), and runway 36R (right).

Threshold markings identify the beginning of a runway and determines the width.

Threshold stripes:

  • 4 stripes = 60ft wide

  • 6 stripes = 75ft wide

  • 8 stripes = 100ft wide

  • 12 stripes = 150ft wide

  • 16 stripes = 200ft wide

On all runways one centerline marking is 120' in length and the gap between markings is 80' giving 200' for a full set. Aiming point markings consists of two broad white stripes located on each side of the runway, about 1,000' from the landing threshold.

Displaced Threshold:

A displaced threshold means the threshold is located on a point of the runway other than the designated beginning of a runway. Pilot's need to be aware of a displaced threshold, due to it shortening the runways available landing length.

If white arrows are marked along the centerline on the portion of runway behind a displaced threshold, that portion can be used for takeoff.

Runway Holding Position Signs and Markings:

Runway holding position signs are like stop signs for an airport. These signs are always collocated with holding position markings on the surface, where taxiways and runways intersect.

  • If noncompliance with a runway holding position sign is made, it may result in a pilot deviation against you filed by the FAA.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings and where you, as the pilot are located, while taxiing.

The holding position sign is arranged with the corresponding runway number. If the sign is located on an intersecting taxiway other than at the threshold end of the runway, the sign will show both of the threshold numbers “18-36”. Such as; the threshold for runway 18 is to the left and the threshold for runway 36 is to the right.

Other than just showing the runway number, these signs also will show the taxiway you, as the pilot are located on.

Runway Holding Position Markings:

There are two types of runway holding position markings that are painted in yellow across the enter width of the surface of a taxiway.

The runway hold position marking, also known as the VFR hold short line is made up of four yellow lines, two solid and two dashed. These markings indicate where aircraft need to stop when approaching a runway.

  • DO NOT cross this line until a clearance has been received from ATC. If the ATC tower is closed or at a non-towered airport, you may cross the runway hold position marking only if the runway and final approach is clear of aircraft.

The other runway hold position marking is the Instrument Landing System (ILS) critical area hold sign. This line is used to protect the ILS arrival traffic, by ATC. ATC will instruct aircraft to hold short of a runway at the ILS critical are.

This line is also painted in yellow, to represent a ladder, across the enter width of the surface of a taxiway, prior to the runway hold position marking or VFR hold short line.

Runway Distance Remaining Signs:

These signs are located along one or both sides of the runway. The numbers indicate the remaining landing runway distance lift, in thousands of feet.

Example, "3" means 3,000 feet of runway remaining.

Taxiway Marking and Signs:

Taxiway signs with yellow letters and a black background indicate the taxiway you are located on.

Taxiway direction signs, with black lettering and yellow back grounds are located on the left side of the taxiway and prior to an intersection. These signs also have arrows that show the direction of a new taxiway.

Enhanced Taxiway Centerline Markings:

These lines are located at most towered airports, to enhance the taxiway centerline and warn the pilot of an upcoming runway and to prepare to stop, along with to help reduce a runway incursion. The yellow dashed lines on either side of the solid taxiway centerline extends up to 150 feet prior to the runway holding position markings.

Temporarily Closed Runways & Taxiways:

If a runway or taxiway is closed temporarily for any reason, a yellow “X” either one laying on the ground or a vertical lighted yellow “X”, over the runway numbers at both ends.

A vertical lighted “X” is a very effective and preferred visual aid to be seen by approaching aircraft.


AIM Ch 2 Sec. 1, Ch 4 Sec. 1

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