Airfield guidance signs

Airfield guidance signs provide information to pilots in taxiing aircraft regarding where they are, when to stop and hold for clearance, and in what direction to find taxiways or other locations.

[←A][B][C→] - Direction left A, Location B, Direction right C - Airfield Guidance Sign
[23 CAT Ⅱ/Ⅲ] ICAO Runway 23 Holding Position, Category Ⅱ/Ⅲ - Airfield Guidance Sign
[←APRON] ICAO Direction left APRON - Airfield Guidance Sign

The basics


The airside part of an airport can cover a huge area that consists of aprons, taxiways and runways, often in a difficult to navigate web of pathways and intersections. Airfield guidance signs serve to inform pilots on where to turn and when to stop, in order to proceed safely to their end destination.


Airfield guidance signs are generally grouped into information signs and mandatory instruction signs, and each of these have different types:

Information signs

These are basically wayfinding signs for airfields. They have black symbols on a yellow background, except for taxiway locations which are inverted and in some cases also have a yellow border.

  • Taxiway location
  • Direction
  • Runway exit
  • Taxiway ending
  • Runway vacated
  • Critical area

Mandatory instruction signs

These signs mark locations at which vehicles and aircraft are required to stop and wait for clearance. They have white symbols on a red background, and in some cases the symbols have black outlines to enhance readability.

  • No entry
  • Runway hold position
  • ILS hold position

Besides these ones there are special types that are less common or exclusive to a nation's own regulations.

Runway Hold Position

These are located at the hold short point of a runway, taxiway, or other designated area on an airport. They are used to indicate to pilots where they should stop before entering a runway, taxiway or other designated area.

The signs are typically painted on the ground or mounted on poles, and may be illuminated for use during nighttime operations. They are accompanied by painted hold short lines on the ground that provide a visual cue to the pilot. The signs will typically include the designated taxiway or runway number that the aircraft should not cross or enter.

The purpose of the Runway Hold Position Signs is to ensure the safety of aircraft operations on the runway and to prevent runway incursions. Pilots must obey the instructions indicated by the signs and stop at the hold short line to avoid interfering with aircraft that may be taking off or landing on the runway. Failure to comply with the instructions indicated by the Runway Hold Position Signs can result in significant safety hazards and potential collisions.

VOR Checkpoint

A VOR checkpoint sign is a type of airfield guidance sign that is used to indicate the location of a VOR (VHF omnidirectional range) checkpoint on the airport. A VOR checkpoint is a navigational aid that is used by pilots to determine their position and track their progress along a specific route. They include information about the frequency of the VOR checkpoint, as well as any other relevant details that may be useful for pilots.

Runway Distance Remaining

Runway Distance Remaining Signs are used to indicate to pilots the distance remaining to the end of the runway. They are typically placed along the side of the runway, often near the approach end, and are illuminated for use during nighttime operations.

The signs typically display the remaining distance in hundreds of feet, with some signs also indicating the time to reach the end of the runway based on the aircraft's current speed. The purpose of these signs is to provide an additional visual cue to the pilot and enhance situational awareness, particularly when landing on a runway with a limited amount of space.


An Arresting Gear Marker is a type of airfield guidance sign that is used to indicate the location of an arresting gear on the airport. Arresting gear, also known as arresting hooks or arresting systems, is equipment that is installed at the end of a runway to help stop aircraft that are unable to stop on their own, such as in the case of an emergency or a failed takeoff attempt. These are larger black and square signs with no text or special symbols, just a centered yellow circle.


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for establishing international standards and policies for the safe and efficient operation of civil aviation. The organization was established in 1947, and it is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

ICAO has a long history of regulating airfield guidance signs and other aspects of airport and airfield design and operation. One of the organization's first major initiatives in this area was the development of the "Aerodrome Design Manual," which was published in 1964 and included detailed guidance on the design and placement of airfield guidance signs.

Since then, ICAO has continued to develop and update its standards and guidelines for airfield guidance signs, including the use of international symbols and pictograms, the placement of signs, and the use of written messages and text.

Today, ICAO's standards and guidelines for airfield guidance signs are widely recognized as the global benchmark for the design and operation of airports and airfields, and they are used by organizations and governments around the world to ensure the safe and efficient movement of aircraft.

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

More to come

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