Our goal is reducing runway incursions and other “undesirable states” — a euphemism for hitting something or going off the taxiway.
Airport diagrams are going electronic which is an immense improvement for situational awareness. Airline pilots will get the same benefit drivers have been enjoying for years. But there are some important elements that should be included.
Be sure to check out samples of improved charts in this article.
- Letter Direction: The letters themselves should indicate the direction of the taxiway by their alignment. There is a lot of value to quickly seeing that taxiway Bravo goes East/West because of how the B’s are placed. Letters should be as evenly spaced as possible–humans pick up quickly on patterns.
- Letter ON Taxiway: The letter should be on the taxiway as much as possible. It’s too easy to confuse one with another when they are off to the side, primarily when other taxiways are nearby.
- Use the Angle: If the angle is less tan about 30° to horizontal, then the letter should be angled with the taxiway. This angling, on its own, helps determine quickly which taxiway the letter applies to. Taxiways that angle more than 45° should have their letters be aligned vertically to the page but follow principle 1. In between those angles, other factors must be considered—a design element that takes a good human eyeball.
- No Hunting: You should not have to hunt for a taxiway designator when clearing any runway. They should be obvious and large.
- No Glasses: Make the taxiway letters larger. They are the most important element, we should be able to see them clearly and quickly. Seeing the designators is much more important than seeing the roadways that surround the airport.
- Ground Control: Put the ground control frequencies where pilots need them–beside the runway they’re exiting. On larger airports with change points, clearly mark the frequency ON THE CHART.
- Ramp Control: Clearly mark where ramp control is required with the appropriate frequency.
- Use the Space: We don’t care about tree and road patterns outside the airport. Don’t waste precious space making the airport diagram smaller to accommodate them.
When charts go electronic, follow these guidelines to the extent possible to hasten understanding. These are the waning years where pilots are still steering airplanes manually and using old-fashioned methods. But lets improve where it makes sense.