Airport Signage: General

There are 6 general categories of airport signage you will see installed around an airport:

  1. Mandatory Instruction Signs
  2. Direction Signs
  3. Destination Signs
  4. Location Signs
  5. Information Signs
  6. Runway distance remaining signs

In this chapter, we will go in depth on all the different signs you might see in distinct areas of the airport, the runways, taxiways, and ramp/other.

1. Mandatory Instruction Signs

Mandatory instruction signs are the equivalent of a stop sign. They have a red background with white lettering or numbering. Violation of a mandatory instruction sign could result in a pilot deviation and a nice phone chat with Mr. FSDO Man.

Mandatory Instruction Signs are generally used to indicate an area where aircraft are prohibited from entering, like a critical area housing equipment, or unsafe conditions, or an area where aircraft need permission to enter, like a runway or ILS critical area.

Common examples of mandatory instruction signs are Runway Holding Position Signs and Runway Approach Area Holding Position Signs (covered in the Runway lesson), ILS Critical Area Holding Position Signs, and No-Entry Signs (covered in the Ramp/Other lesson).

No entry

2. Direction Signs

Direction Signs are like freeway signs, they tell you what street is coming up next and where to get off. Identifiable by their yellow background and black lettering or numbering, direction signs are used only on taxiways and serve, as the name suggests, as directions around the airport. In addition to letters/numbers, the signs also have an arrow showing the direction of the upcoming taxiway the sign is indicating. Direction signs will be covered in more detail in the Taxiway lesson.


3. Destination Signs

Similar to direction signs, destination signs are also yellow with a black inscription. Think of a destination sign like those signs on the freeway that show what amenities are coming up at the next town. At the airport, destination signs may indicate an upcoming runway, terminal, ramp, or FBO, among other things. Destination signs are covered more in depth in the "Ramp/Other" lesson.

Destination sign for military area

Destination sign showing common taxiway for two runways

4. Location Signs

Location Signs are the little "you are here" dot on a map at the mall. Location signs are used to indicate a runway or taxiway on which you are currently located, as well as indicating to a pilot when they have left an area.

There are several different types of location signs: Taxiway Location Signs (covered in the Taxiways lesson), Runway Location Signs and Runway Boundary Signs (both covered in the Runways lesson), and ILS Critical Area Boundary Signs (covered in the Ramp/Other lesson).

runway location sign
ils critical area
taxiway sign

5. Information Signs

Access directory assistance service by dialing “4-1-1” . . . or just look for the yellow sign with black instructions on it. More information on information signs will be in the Ramp/Other lesson.


6. Runway Distance Remaining Signs

Picture a big black sign with a white message saying "You're almost out of runway!" That's pretty much it. More on these signs in the Runways lesson.

Runway Distance Remaining

Runway Distance Remaining 1

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