Runway and Taxiway Markings

Marx, sans Socialism (Sorry, Karl)

The first and simplest marking is a taxiway centerline.  It’s a solid yellow line down the center of taxiways.  Simple enough.

The next simplest is the runway centerline marking – it’s a white dashed line.  Also pretty simple.

Hold ShortHold short markings are what seem to be really difficult for people to wrap their minds around.  At the left you’ll see a Runway Hold-Short Marking (Detail 1) and a ILS Critical Area Hold-Short Marking (Detail 2). Anytime you see a hold short marking, it means that you’re to STOP and not cross it until you receive clearance to do so (unless you’re operating at a non-towered airport, at which point you need to self-announce that you’re crossing and ensure that it’s safe.)

Not present in the above image is a taxiway/run-up hold short marking, which is a single dashed line.

If you don’t get clearance to cross the hold short bars, it’s an incursion onto a runway or taxiway – these tend to make the controllers very angry and they ask you if you have a pen.

An incursion is best described as any part of the aircraft being over the hold short markings.  This applies when getting onto or off of a runway/taxiway.  Hold short bars are like the solid/dashed line on a road – the dashed side is the side you can cross over freely – the solid side is the one you have to stop for or get completely over when crossing.

The Cirrus pilots I mentioned earlier seem to have a real problem actually crossing the hold short markings when exiting runways at KMYF…

Markings on the runway are also pretty straightforward.  I mentioned the centerline already, but there are other markings that you might notice on the runway.

Approach to KMYF

Again we’re looking at KMYF.

28L is a non-precision runway.  It has no precision approaches (or any approaches at all, for that matter) and is only adorned with a centerline and the runway number.  The runway number is the runway’s magnetic heading, so 28L and 28R are more or less on a heading of 280°.  The opposite end of the runway is marked with the reciprocal heading, so 28L becomes 10R and is on a heading of 100°.

28R is a precision runway and has a published ILS and RNAV(GPS) approach.  As such it will have precision runway markings on it – these include the vertical bars at the threshold, the vertical bars 500 feet down the runway indicate the start of the Touchdown Zone.  500 feet further down the runway are the Aimpoint markers (the solid white squares), and further than that are indications of how much runway remains, each mark indicating 1000 feet, so the markings on the runway in this case indicate 2000 feet remain since there are 2 marks.  If runway 10L had a published approach, the same markings would be repeated in reverse.

On 28R you can see the arrows leading up the center of the displaced threshold to the threshold markings (the ^ ^ ^ ^ ahead of the runway threshold).  The displaced threshold is used for taxiing and takeoff only as the asphalt is too thin to be used for landing.  28L doesn’t have a displaced threshold.

Blast PadIn some cases a blast pad for jet blasts and propwash may be present – this it to prevent clouds of dirt/dust from being blown up while aircraft are taking off.  It also marks an area that’s not necessarily a great place to be when aircraft are taking off in front of you.  At some airports, the blast pad is also the displaced threshold and can be used for taxi and takeoff, but it usually isn’t.

Next we’ll look at lights.

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2 thoughts on “Runway and Taxiway Markings

  1. Good job in raising awareness! Sightline’s mission is to raise awareness about the taxiway and runway markings themselves because very few airports install them well, which results in poor quality for the pilot population (especially during darkness when you need them the most!). We wrote the Airfield Marking Handbook for the FAA, published in 2008; and yet we continue to struggle with this often overlooked visual aid.

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