The Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD), published in regional booklets by NACO, provides textual information about all airports, both VFR and IFR. The A/FD includes runway length and width, runway surface, load bearing capacity, runway slope, airport services, and hazards such as birds and reduced visibility. [Figure 2-3] Sketches of airports also are being added to aid VFR pilots in surface movement activities. In support of the FAA Runway Incursion Program, fullpage airport diagrams are included in the A/FD. These charts are the same as those published in the IFR TPP and are printed for airports with complex runway or taxiway layouts.


The Surface Movement Guidance Control System (SMGCS) was developed in 1992 to facilitate the safe movement of aircraft and vehicles at airports where scheduled air carriers were conducting authorized operations. This program was designed to provide guidelines for the creation of low visibility taxi plans for all airports with takeoff or landing operations using visibility minimums less than 1,200 feet RVR. For landing operations, this would be pertinent only to those operators whose OpsSpecs permit them to land with lower than standard minimums. For departures, however, since there are no regulatory takeoff minimums for Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 91 operators, the SMGCS information is pertinent to all departing traffic operating in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). Advisory Circular (AC) 120-57A, Surface Movement Guidance and Control System, outlines the SMGCS program in its entirety including standards and guidelines for establishment of a low visibility taxi plan.

The SMGCS low visibility taxi plan includes the improvement of taxiway and runway signs, markings, and lighting, as well as the creation of SMGCS low visibility taxi route charts. [Figure 2-4 on page 2-4] The plan also clearly identifies taxi routes and their supporting facilities and equipment. Airport enhancements that are part of the SMGCS program include (but are not limited to):

  • Stop bars consist of a row of red unidirectional, in-pavement lights installed along the holding position marking. When extinguished by the controller, they confirm clearance for the pilot or vehicle operator to enter the runway. They are required at intersections of an illuminated taxiway and active runway for operations less than 600 feet RVR.
  • Taxiway centerline lights, which work in conjunction with stop bars, are green in-pavement lights that guide ground traffic under low visibility conditions and during darkness.
  • Runway guard lights, either elevated or in-pavement, will be installed at all taxiways that provide access to an active runway. They consist of alternately flashing yellow lights, used to denote both the presence of an active runway and identify the location of a runway holding position marking.
  • Geographic position markings, used as hold points or for position reporting, enable ATC to verify the position of aircraft and vehicles. These checkpoints or “pink spots” are outlined with a black and white circle and designated with a number, a letter, or both.
  • Clearance bars consist of three yellow in-pavement lights used to denote holding positions for aircraft and vehicles. When used for hold points, they are co-located with geographic position markings

Additional information concerning airport lighting, markings, and signs can be found in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), as well as on the FAA’s website at:

Both flight and ground crews are required to comply with SMGCS plans when implemented at their specific airport. All airport tenants are responsible for disseminating information to their employees and conducting training in low visibility operating procedures. Anyone operating in conjunction with the SMGCS plan must have a copy of the low visibility taxi route chart for their given airport as these charts outline the taxi routes and other detailed information concerning low visibility operations. These charts are available from private sources outside of the FAA. Part 91 operators are expected to comply with the guidelines listed in the AC to the best of their ability and should expect “Follow Me” service when low visibility operations are in use. Any SMGCS outage that would adversely affect operations at the airport is issued as a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).