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Roadgrip Airports travel the world to improve safety on runways and airfields. Alongside rubber removal, airfield grooving, ground lighting and Rhinophalt asphalt preservation, we are also regularly contracted to paint the markings on runways and airfields.

It is of paramount safety that runway markings remain highly visible and clear for pilots.

It is also important that runway markings are uniformly used throughout the world in the same way, due to the international nature of flights. It would make air travel incredibly complicated of each country and airport used different symbols, for example.


What do airfield markings mean?

Airport pavement markings are typically grouped into runway markings, taxiway markings and holding position markings

If you’ve ever wondered what all of those runway markings mean, here’s a simple explanation of what the surface lines, numbers, letters and symbols communicate to the pilots and airport crews:


Runway Markings

There are three types of runway markings (visual, non-precision instrument and precision instrument) and they are painted white.

The visual runway does not have an instrument approach procedure but the other two do. The non-precision instrument runway uses navigational aids with horizontal or lateral guidance, whilst the precision instrument runway uses a precision landing system with both lateral and vertical guidance to the end of the runway.

  • Runway centreline markings show the pilot the physical centre of the runway, which helps the aircraft to align correctly during take-off and landing. The markings are white and consist of uniformly spaced stripes and gaps.


  • Threshold markings are eight white stripes that look like piano keys (and are sometimes referred to as such) and show the beginning and end of the take-off and landing zones.


  • The Touch Down Zone (TDZ) is positioned after the threshold area and shows where the aircraft must make contact with the runway when landing. The markings are white and consist of groups of one, two, and three rectangular bars symmetrically arranged in pairs along the runway centreline.


  • The Runway Aiming Point is the broad white stripe located on each side of the runway centerline that marking provides a visual aiming point for landing aircraft.


  • Runway Designation Markings are the numbers painted on the surface that related to universally recognised compass bearings. The letters relate to left (L), right (R), or centre (C) parallel runways.


  • Runway Side Strip Markings are required on precision runways and show the edge of the runway. They are white continuous stripes on each side of the runway that provide visual distinction between the runway and abutting terrain. In the case of exceptionally wide runways, shoulder markings further signify that aircraft must not enter the area with white lines slanted at 45 degrees to the centreline.


  • Displaced Threshold Markings are located at a point on the runway other than the designated beginning of the runway. A ten feet wide white threshold bar is painted across the width of the runway at the displaced threshold, and white arrows and arrowheads are painted on the surface to show the start of a runway in a displaced threshold area.



Taxiway Markings

Taxiway markings are yellow surface markings on the asphalt taxiway that connect the runway to another area of the airport like the terminal or hangar. These are slow paths that aircraft follow to go from one location to another.


  • The double yellow lines indicate the edge of the taxiway that shouldn’t be crossed by aircraft.


  • The single solid yellow line running down the middle of the taxiway is the centre line.


  • Directional lines at intersections away from the centreline are also numbered, signifying different destinations and routes. The number will appear to the left or right of the centreline to correspond with either a left or right turn.


  • Geographic position ground markings can be seen on low visibility taxi routes to the left of the centreline. The numbers are in a circle.


  • An enhanced taxi centreline has yellow dashed lines on either side of the solid centre line to signify that the runway and holding position are close.


  • Taxiway holding position markings signify where the aircraft must stop until it has clearance to proceed onto the runway.


Holding Position Markings

Runway holding position markings show where the aircraft must stop when approaching a runway.


  • Holding position markings consist of two solid yellow lines and two dashed yellow lines across the width of the runway. The aircraft must be held on the side where the solid yellow lines are.


  • The red surface marking with a white number inside is the holding position sign.


Other Airfield Markings

  • Hazardous areas are signified with alternate white and orange markings. These must not be crossed by any part of an aircraft.


  • Yellow chevrons signify that the pavement area is unusable for landing, takeoff and taxiing.


Marking and Line Removal

When runways are permanently closed, the touch down zone, runway designation numbers and threshold markings are removed and replaced with crosses. Read more about line removal here.


A comprehensive 2019 guide to airfield line markings can be found on the FAA website.

To find out more about airfield markings, safety and lighting, please visit our Airportspage.