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Airfield Movement Area Drivers Training

Author:

Angelo has a BSc in Aviation Management from Florida Tech, as well as, an extensive Ops career spanning several Commercial Service Airports.

Never cross the double solid line without permission from ATCT. The Taxiway/Runway Hold Short provides safe separation for landing traffic and traffic on the ground.

Never cross the double solid line without permission from ATCT. The Taxiway/Runway Hold Short provides safe separation for landing traffic and traffic on the ground.

Become A Proficient Airfield Driver

After completing this guide you will have covered two-way radio communication procedures and understand the function of the tower, ground and common traffic advisory frequencies. Including appropriate radio communication structure and proper read-backs. You will be able to understand the controllers instructions. Be familiar with the airfield and have knowledge of the signs, lighting and pavement markings. Understand what it means to have an airfield ready vehicle and correct driving procedures. Be able to distinguish between the Movement and the Non-movement Area.

Who Needs Airfield Driver Training?

Airport operations is responsible for restricting vehicles and pedestrians that do not have the necessity to be on the airfield.

Only those who are thoroughly trained will be authorized to drive on the airfield. Airfield access carries with it a huge responsibility to operate safely.

Thoroughly trained drivers are:

  • Familiar with the airport
  • Knowledgeable of markings, signs, and lighting
  • Knowledgeable of airport rules
  • Understand the consequences of failure to abide by these rules

According to Federal Aviation Regulation CFR Part 139.303 (c) The airport operator must ensure that new employees receive initial training and existing employees receive annual training for personnel who perform duties in movement and safety areas.

Communicating with The Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT)

ATCT has the following positions and responsibilities the ground control position has control over all taxiways and directs traffic to and from the runway.

The tower position also known as local control has control over the runways.

Steps for talking with Ground Control:

  • Who you are calling (XYZ Ground)
  • Who you are (AAL MX One)
  • Where you are (Gate 10)
  • Where you want to go (South Ramp)
  • Read back ATC instructions

Common Traffic Advisory Frequencies (CTAF):

CTAF is the frequency via which you would advise local traffic of your location, destination and intentions. Uncontrolled airports and airports with limited ATCT service typically change to CTAF after the Tower closes.

Use CTAF to:

  • Let traffic know of your presence on the airfield and your intentions
  • Request traffic advisories
  • Announce to traffic when entering a runway

Lost Communication Procedures:

  • Turn vehicle toward the tower
  • Flash lights
  • Wait for light gun signals

Air Traffic Control Light Gun Signals

If you lose two radio communication with the tower; turn your vehicle to face the tower flash your headlights and wait for light gun signals. If you have a mobile phone call airport operations or ATCT

If you lose two radio communication with the tower; turn your vehicle to face the tower flash your headlights and wait for light gun signals. If you have a mobile phone call airport operations or ATCT

Aviation Phonetics

A - Alfa

O - Oscar

B - Bravo

P - Papa

C - Charlie

Q - Quebec

D - Delta

R - Romeo

E - Echo

S - Sierra

F - Foxtrot

T - Tango

G - Gulf

U - Uniform

H - Hotel

V - Victor

I - India

W - Whiskey

J - Juliet

X - X-Ray

K - Kilo

Y - Yankee

L - Lima

Z - Zulu

M - Mike

3 - Tree

N - November

9 - Niner

Airport Phraseology / Airfield Terminology

TermMeaning

Affirmative/Affirm

Yes!

Abeam

Next to

Call sign

Unique designated name given to the vehicle/ aircraft

Correction

This new request/instruction changes the previous request (Used instead of apologizing for stating something incorrectly)

Copy

I hear and understand

FBO

Fixed Based Operator location on airfield that provide aircraft handling services (fuel, lubricants, charts, repairs etc)

FOD

Foreign Object Debris. Anything on the runways, taxiways, or ramps that could be a hazard (trash, rocks, carcass, etc)

Go ahead

Speak

Hold Short

Do not proceed pass boundary; hold short instructions should be repeated word for word including your call sign

Read back

Repeat clearance verbatim

Roger

Your transmission was received. Roger is not the same as affirmative it simply says I hear you. A clearance is never given or acknowledged by saying roger.

Say again

Repeat

Wilco

Will comply

Unable

Cannot comply with request / instructions

The Airport Operations Area (AOA)

This is usually the area within the airport perimeter fence where aircraft operate and are separated from the Landside by the Terminal.

  • Includes movement area and safety areas, and non-movement area
  • Movement area (runways/taxiways) is controlled by ATC
  • Non-movement area (ramps/aprons) not controlled by ATC

Movement Area and Safety Areas

The movement area is the paved surface used for taxi, takeoffs, and landings. Safety Area includes the Runway Safety Area (RSA) and Taxiway Safety Area (TSA). The movement area and the Safety areas are controlled by ATC and require permission to operate within these areas. Entering the movement area/ safety area without permission creates a surface incident.

What distinguishes the movement area from the non-movement area is a requirement to obtain permission and instructions from ATC. ATC must provide clearance before you enter the movement area.

Non-Movement Areas

Non-movement area do not require coordinating with air traffic control. Typiclal non-movement areas include:

  • Aircraft Parking Areas/Gates
  • Cargo Ramps
  • Taxilanes
  • Vehicle Service Roads

General Rules for Driving on the AOA

  • Job-related need
  • Valid driver's license and the required airport ID
  • Aircraft always have the right of way unless vehicles are given specific clearance from ATC. Additionally, all vehicles must yield the right of way to all emergency vehicles including fire, police, and ops. Also, snow removal vehicles operating during snow events have the right of way over non- emergency vehicles
  • Pass to the rear of taxiing aircraft/do not pass behind aircraft with running engine or red rotating beacon
  • Maximum speed on Ramp and Service Roads 15 MPH and 5 MPH around aircraft
  • Obey traffic signs
  • Avoid distracted driving, no headphones, no cellphones
mobile fuel truck parking adjacent vehicle service road that is next to non-movement boundary marking

mobile fuel truck parking adjacent vehicle service road that is next to non-movement boundary marking

Letter of Agreements (LOA)

Letter of agreements are entered into by the airport operator and the Air Traffic Control Tower. The procedures outlined in the LOA may give specific vehicles and their users access to the movement area without contacting ATCT. The FAA reviews and authorizes the agreement between ATCT and the airport operator. These memorandum of understandings are used to improve efficiency of operations without sacrificing safety.

Airport Vehicle Requirements

  • Air to ground radio - two-way radio communication capabilities
  • Beacon - required for all vehicles in the movement area
  • Markings - Call sign on the front, top, sides, and back
  • Checkered Flag - (substitute for a beacon during daytime operation)
Example of an airport vehicle with proper decals

Example of an airport vehicle with proper decals

Let's Review

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. The movement area consists of aircraft gates, cargo ramps, taxilanes and the vehicle lanes?
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. True

Airport Familiarization

A quick search for your airport on the FAA's website will give you access to the airport diagram. Always keep a copy of the airport diagram in the vehicle.

Be conscious of where you are on the airfield at all times and be able to identify critical landmarks such as access roads, airport beacon, wind cones, run-up blocks etc.

For your safety, it is absolutely essential that you learn the pavement markings, signs, and lighting that is used in the movement area.

Airport Markings

  • Taxiway Markings are YELLOW
  • All Runway Markings are White

Markings on pavement older than two years or concrete should be outlined in black.

Driving on Taxiways (TWY)

TWYs are used by aircraft to navigate to and from the ramps and runways. They are identified by letters or letter and number combinations for designators. You must communicate with ATC before entering, leaving, crossing or driving on TWYs. NB drivers of certain authorized vehicles identified to ATC under a Letter of Agreement with the airport operator may have different procedures for operating in the movement area.

TWYs have yellow markings and blue edge lights, green centerline lights, and taxiway directional signs have black letters on yellow background and black borders, taxiway location sign has yellow letters on black background with yellow outline.


Non-Movement Area Boundary Marking

The movement area is separated from the non-movement area by the non-movement area boundary marking. This marking is represented by one solid and one dashed line, do not cross the solid line moving toward the dashed line without first coordinating your movement with airport operations and obtaining permission from the air traffic control tower on the appropriate frequency. Once you obtain clearance you must remain within radio contact with atct at all times.

Taxiway Markings

airfield-movement-area-drivers-training

Enhanced Taxiway Centerline

Begins 150' before the Runway Hold Short Marking and consist of 13 dashes with 6' gaps between each one, 12 of which are 9' long and the final dash is 3' long

Begins 150' before the Runway Hold Short Marking and consist of 13 dashes with 6' gaps between each one, 12 of which are 9' long and the final dash is 3' long

Runway Designations

The runway designation number on each end of the runway is determined by magnetic heading. Aircraft take-off and land into the wind and the direction of traffic determines the approach end /departure end of the runway.

The runway designation number on each end of the runway is determined by magnetic heading. Aircraft take-off and land into the wind and the direction of traffic determines the approach end /departure end of the runway.

Airport Signs

Taxiway Location Sign - have yellow inscription on black background with yellow outline and black border. These sign identify what taxiway you are currently on.

Direction Sign - show direction to destination.

Mandatory Instruction Sign - have white letters with black outline on a red background and a black border. These signs are equivalent to stop signs.

Mandatory Information Sign - provide critical information such as ILS hold position, and runway approach location.

Airport Signs

airfield-movement-area-drivers-training

Runway Holding Position Signs

Runway holding position signs are called mandatory instruction signs and area equivalent to stop signs they indicate that you must hold in that position until you have received clearance from ATCT to proceed.

This taxiway/runway hold short sign explains that you are located on taxiway Alpha holding short of runway 4/22.

This taxiway/runway hold short sign explains that you are located on taxiway Alpha holding short of runway 4/22.

Airport Lighting

  • Runway Edge Lights are White (except on instrument runways where amber replaces white on last 2,000ft of runway departure end)
  • Runway centerline lights are white (except for the last 3,000 feet where the alternate red and white then red for the last 2,000 feet)
  • Taxiway Edge Lights are Blue
  • Taxiway centerline lights are green

Pilot Control Lighting (PCL)

  • Tune radio to CTAF frequency to control airfield lights
  • 3 clicks turns the lights on to LOW intensity
  • 5 clicks for medium intensity
  • 7 clicks for high intensity
  • You can step them up (Low-High) or down (High-Low)
  • Stepping of the lights is for runways only
  • Taxiways are medium-intensity only
  • Airfield lights power down after 15 minutes

Runway Incursions

Deviation from safety can have catastrophic consequences

A runway incursion is "any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft."

Runway incursions are caused by 1 of 3 elements, operational error, pilot deviation or vehicle/pedestrian deviation

  • Example: A ground vehicle enters a runway without permission which creates hazard to a landing aircraft
  • Steps to avoid incursions: Avoid complacency, be patient, use proper radio communication procedures, know where you are

Runway Incursion Category

Accident - An incursion that resulted in a collision

Category A - Serious incident in which collision was narrowly avoided.

Category B - Incident in which aircraft separation decreases and there is significant potential for collision, which may result in critical corrective or evasive response to avoid collision such as aircraft go around.

Category C - Incident characterized by ample time and/or distance to avoid collision.

Category D - Incident such as incorrect presence of single vehicle, person or aircraft on protected surface designated for landing and take-off of aircraft, but with no immediate consequences.

NB an aircraft does not have to be present on the runway for an incursion to occur.

Whoa, That was a Close Call! Very Nearly a Collision

Causes of Surface Incidents and Runway Incursions

Operational Error Pilot Deviation Vehicle/ Pedestrian Deviation

Action of an Air Traffic Controller that results in: Less than required minimum separation between 2 or more aircraft, or between an aircraft and obstacles, (vehicles, equipment, personnel on runways) or Clearing an aircraft to take off or land on a closed runway

Action of a pilot that violates any Federal Aviation Regulation Example: a pilot crosses a runway without a clearance while enroute to an airport gate

Pedestrians or vehicles entering any portion of the airport movement areas (runways/taxiways) without authorization from air traffic control

Let's Review

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What must vehicle operators do before entering the movement area?
    • Look both ways and proceed with caution
    • Yield right of way to aircraft
    • Buckle up
    • Contact ATCT for permission
  2. What vehicle requirements must be met in order to be on the movement area?
    • Local DMV inspection
    • Inspected by airport operations, two-way-radio capabilities, beacon and call sign in conspicuous location
  3. How are taxiways marked and lighted?
    • White lines, white lights
    • Yellow lights, green lines
    • Yellow lines, blue lights
    • Yellow lines, white lights
  4. You do not need to notify ATCT that you are off the runway after your vehicle clears the runway hold position marking.
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. Contact ATCT for permission
  2. Inspected by airport operations, two-way-radio capabilities, beacon and call sign in conspicuous location
  3. Yellow lines, blue lights
  4. False

Congratulations on Making it to the End of this Training

Photo taken by S. Shah using a Samsung Galaxy 8 from the Apron of Terminal A at Reagan National Airport

Photo taken by S. Shah using a Samsung Galaxy 8 from the Apron of Terminal A at Reagan National Airport

© 2020 Angelo

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