The signs, ground marking and lighting for airport are marked in specific ways that make sense only to those with a trained eye. As a child, being in the passenger seat of your parents’ car, you eventually learn the rules of the road - stay in the lines, green means go, and watch for pedestrians. But being a passenger in an airplane, it’s harder to get a firm grasp of what’s happening at the airport before the plane takes off. Many of us take no notice of what’s going on around them, not even realizing how much work goes into preparing for the flight before passengers even board.
Once planes have been serviced and deemed ready to fly, they must be transported from one location to another. For those who don’t know, “taxiing” is the term for driving the plane between runways, hangars, terminals, and other airport facilities. The yellow lines on the ground of an airport mark the path used for taxiing the plane.
The taxiing pathway is known as the taxiway, it’s always painted yellow. The centerline of the taxiway is meant to guide the airplane down the path of the taxiway while staying completely in the lane and the edge lines are meant to show the borders of the taxipaths. The centerline is lit with green lights while the edge lines of the taxipaths are lit with blue lights.
Hold markings— indicated by four lines running perpendicular to the taxiway, two dashed lines on one side, and two dashed lines on the other side— indicate whether or not the taxier can move freely through the taxiway or if they have to wait for clearance in order to proceed forward. If the plane is approaching the solid lines, they have to wait for clearance; and if they approach from the side of the dashed lines first, they can freely move past the hold lines without having to wait.
At holding points before a split in the taxiway, there will be a sign indicating whether or not the driver can change taxipaths. These signs are shown through two letters next to each other, one in black to indicate the path you’re currently on, and a yellow one to indicate a possible path to turn into, followed by a directional arrow to show which turn to take to get to that path.
From the taxiway to a hold point, there will be a sign that is noted with the current taxiway in black, followed by the upcoming runway and the direction that the plane will be going in. This is shown through the use of two numbers separated by a hyphen. The first number indicates which runway is on the left and the second number indicates which is on the right. Turning onto a runway with a sign that says “A 9-25” would tell them that they are currently on taxiway A and are turning onto the runway going in the direction with 9 on their left and 25 on their right.
Although it’s unlikely that you will ever have to taxi an airplane ever, it’s comforting to know that all aspects of flight, even pre-flight operations, are structured in a way that is simple and regulated.
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