Airport signs

A typical airport displays thousands of signs all around – outside on the airfields helping pilots navigate, and inside the terminals helping travelers find their way to gates, restaurants and toilets.

[←A][B][C→] - Direction left A, Location B, Direction right C - Airfield Guidance Sign
FAA Taxiway Ending Marker - Airfield Guidance Sign
Stand Number Indicator / Gate sign with coordinates - Airport Sign
[4] FAA Runway Distance Remaining - Airfield Guidance Sign
[23 CAT Ⅱ/Ⅲ] ICAO Runway 23 Holding Position, Category Ⅱ/Ⅲ - Airfield Guidance Sign

Airside signs

The term “airside” refers to the part of an airport that is in open air, containing all the airplanes. In general, these areas have higher security requirements than those occupied by visitors and travelers. There are a number of international and local regulatory bodies that manage and enforce compliance with design standards for these signs.

This category of airport signs include:

  • Airfield Guidance Signs (Taxiway Guidance Signs)
  • Stand Number Identification Boards (gate signs)
  • VOR checkpoint signs
  • Runway Distance Remaining signs
  • Arresting Gear Markers
  • Access restriction, warning and other security signs

Airfield signs

These signs are typically located on the runway, taxiway, and other areas of the airfield, and they are used to provide information and guidance to pilots and other airport personnel. Airfield signs serve a number of important functions, including indicating the location of the runway, the direction of takeoff and landing, and the location of other important facilities, such as the terminal building, de-icing areas and apron.

Airfield signs are typically made from durable materials that can withstand the challenges of the airport environment, such as wind, rain, sunlight and the bursts of a jet engine. However, should a collision with a plane occur, the signs need to be frangible enough to break in such a way as to minimise damage of the plane.

They are also designed to be highly visible, and when illuminated fall in the category of “Airfield lighting”. Most aspects of these signs are regulated and need to conform to standards in terms of colors, lettering, sizes, etc. Most Airfield guidance signs around the world have similar appearance, with slight deviations in North America.


The main regulating body for airside signs is a specialized agency of the United Nations called ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organization. The regulating document for signs is Annex 14, Aerodromes, Volume I – Aerodrome Design and Operations, Ninth Edition, July 2022.

In addition to ICAO there are multiple local government organizations and private companies that provide regulations. Some of these regulations are:

  • CS-ADR-DSN by the European Authority in aviation safety
  • AC 150/5345-44K by the Federal Aviation Authority
  • TP 312 by Transport Canada
  • CAP 168 by The UK Civil Aviation Authority
  • АВИАЦИОННЫЕ ПРАВИЛА, Часть 139 by russian MAK (Interstate Aviation committee)
  • Manual Normativo de Señalización en el Área de Movimiento, EXA 40 by spanish Aena.
  • CASR by australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Landside signs

This term refers to the signs that are inside the airport buildings, occupied by visitors and travelers. They provide important information to people, as well as help them find their way to gates, restaurants, toilets, etc.

This category of airport signs include:

  • Wayfinding signs
  • Information signs
  • Facility signs
  • Gate signs
  • Access restriction, warning and other security signs

More to come

This article is a stump and will be updated with more information soon.