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Airfield Vehicle Marking

03 February, 2023

The biggest challenge in the aviation industry is runway safety. Proper airfield vehicle marking is crucial to ensure safe navigation and clear communication to other personnel working on the airport operations area (AOA) of an airport.

This infographic covers best practices for airfield vehicle marking as recommended by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). DuraLabel can help you comply with airfield vehicle marking requirements using PathFinder floor marking, wayfinding, and safety tape. You can identify fleet vehicles and all airfield vehicles using PathFinding high-intensity reflective tape.


The following is a transcript of the Airfield Vehicle Marking Infographic:

The demand for air travel continues to grow each year. United States airlines and foreign airlines serving the U.S. carried an all-time high of 895.5 million passengers in 2015 (Department of Transportation, DOT).

In 2016, passenger traffic grew by 6.3% industry-wide, ahead of the ten-year average annual growth rate of 5.5% (International Air Transport Association, IATA).

This brings the challenge of meeting demand with infrastructure that can accommodate this growth. Also, the increase in personnel and traffic on the airfield means higher chances for human error.

  • 9.9 million people currently work directly in the aviation industry (Air Transport Action Group, ATAG).
  • Aviation jobs are estimated to contribute 3.8 times the amount to the global economy than other jobs (ATAG).
  • As of June 2017, the global commercial airlines industry made 743 billion dollars (IATA)
  • By 2026, it's estimated the aviation industry will contribute $1 trillion to the world's GDP (ATAG)

The #1 Safety Challenge in the Aviation Industry is Runway Safety and Incursions

Runway Incursion: anytime there is an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle, or person on the airport movement area (runway or taxiway). This creates risk for an airplane taking off or landing to potentially collide with an object.

Runway incursions identified by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA): 2015: 1,328 runway incursions and in 2016: 1,560 runway incursions. The number only appears to be rising.

An average of three runway incursions occur daily in the U.S. with approximately 65% caused by pilots (FAA).

The increase in demand for quick aircraft turnaround puts added time pressure from pilots and air traffic control (ATC) on ground personnel.

The Flight Safety Foundation estimates ramp accidents cost airlines over $10 billion and 27,000 incidents-one per 1,000 departures-worldwide each year, including personal injuries and damaged aircrafts and facilities. The entire cost of ground damage is paid directly by the airlines due to the power being shifted to large handling companies.

Deaths and injuries from airport ramps are not calculated by the government because they could be investigated by one of three agencies:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • National Transportation Safety Board

Compliant airfield vehicle marking is essential to help pilots, personnel, and ATC communicate and identify vehicles clearly to prevent runway incursions.

Most Common Types of Airfield Vehicles & Marking Requirements:

Airport vehicle paint and markings are a safety of flight requirement. Airfield vehicle marking is part of an advisory circular (AC) informational document produced by the FAA to provide guidance and best practices for operations in the aviation industry.

Vehicles used on airports are commonly owned by airlines, vendors, or contractors and are not qualified for Federal funding. All authorized vehicles that regularly operate on the movement and safety areas of the airport operations area (AOA) must:

  • Be painted and marked in contrasting and conspicuous colors that are visible from both the ground and air
  • Be marked or flagged for high daytime visibility, and if applicable, nighttime operations (See AC 150/5210-5D, Painting, Marking, and Lighting of Vehicles Used on an Airport).
  • Display identification numbers or a company logo
  • Have a flashing yellow beacon
  • To improve nighttime recognition of vehicles: a minimum 8 inch wide horizontal band of high gloss white paint or white reflective tape must be used around the vehicle's surface (Retroreflective, ASTM-D 4956-09, Standard Specification for Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Control, Type III & above).

Airport Emergency Vehicles:

  • Ambulances: mark with Federal Specification KKK-A-1822.
  • ARFF Vehicles: mark with letters "ARFF", "Fire", or "Rescue" and 4.c.(1)-(5) of AC 150/5210-5D, Painting, Marking, and Lighting of Vehicles Used on an Airport.

Airport Operations Vehicles:

  • The airport operator may designate markings.
  • Markings must be coordinated with the air traffic control tower (ATCT) and be documented in the tower letter of agreement.

Airfield Service & Aircraft Support Vehicles:

  • Vehicles owned by the airport operator must display an I.D. identification number on each side and on the roof (if there is no roof, the hood should be used).
  • Side numbers must be a minimum of 16 inches in height and clearly located.
  • Roof numbers must be a minimum of 24 inches in height and fixed with their bases toward the front of the vehicle. The I.D. identification number color should have a sharp contrast to the vehicle color.
  • In addition to I.D. identification numbers, airport operator-owned vehicles must display either the name of the airport and/or airport insignia.

Towbarless Tow Vehicles (TLTVs):

  • Retroreflective tape should outline the shape of the TLTV.
  • If the vertical edge of the vehicle is rounded, place the tape on the rounded portion so light can reflect in both the horizontal and vertical planes.
  • Tape is not required in areas where it could interfere with, or be worn down by, maintenance or operational activities.

Airport Security & Other Vehicles:

  • Vehicles must have a flag on a staff attached to the vehicle to make it visible if they're not escorted by a vehicle in constant two-way radio communication with ATC and properly equipped and authorized to operate in the AOA.
  • Flags must be provided on all vehicles at airports without ATC facilities.
  • Flag must be at least a 3-foot by 3-foot (0.9 meter by 0.9 meter) square with a checkered pattern of international orange and white squares at least 1 foot on each side.

Comply with FAA airfield vehicle marking best practices using PathFinder floor marking, wayfinding, and safety tape.