Aircraft Parking Techniques Explained

by Michael Cheng

Turning an aircraft around and getting it ready for its next flight is a complex and indeed a “pitstop-like” environment. Ground handlers must conduct much activity within a tight time frame. Precision delivery and safety depend upon how well the different ground crews works together.  Today we are going to share the techniques behind parking aircraft.


There are two typical systems currently in use at airports. For the traditional method, a standardised hand signalling system is in place. The ICAO Annex 2 Rules of the Air have listed the recommended marshalling signalling for airport operators and airlines. Below are some typical examples frequently used at most airports.

 Source: ICAO Annex 2 Rules of Air

Aircraft positioning and information system

With advanced technology, large airports have implemented an aircraft positioning and information system to facilitate significant traffic. Such systems apply the principle of radar or laser beam sensors to accurately monitor the docking process even under adverse weather. The approach monitor measures the distance and indicates the plane’s aircraft position data. The same information system is even linked to turnaround management systems that present data to ground staff to monitor the turnaround process.

The ACDM System information on parking display showing the Targeted Off-block time, pilot and ground staff are able monitor the ground operation.

Responsibility for aircraft safety

Procedures for ground staff for the activation of a parking system or guiding arriving aircraft should require that the gate area for aircraft use is clear of all obstructions, Foreign Object & Debris (FOD). It is often difficult to establish a clear vision of the surrounding and the ramp area from the flight deck when visibility is low. The pilot in-command and the ground personnel is also responsible for the safety of the aircraft as it arrives at the gate. Before aircraft arrival, the guidance system is tested by the marshaller and pre-programmed as a selected aircraft type; procedures are also in place by airport operators.

The distance information and aircraft type was measured from the sensors above and display to pilot to adjust the taxi power.A " Stop" sign will be shown in red to warn pilots/ ground staff the aircraft has reached the designated position from the laser sensors above.information and aircraft type was listed of the display for pilot to adjust the taxi power.

In Hong Kong, all arrival flights are required to hold at the stand taxiway until the marshaller arrives and starts the marshalling via system or hand signal. The marshaller is responsible for monitoring the guidance system and take over when the system is off the line.

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