Review of Policy on Surface Movement Radar

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Review of Policy on Surface Movement Radar

41TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Cancun, Mexico, 15-19 April 2002

WP No. 83

Review of Policy on Surface Movement Radar

Presented by SC1


1.1  At the 40th annual Conference in Geneva 2001, SC1 accepted the review of policy on Surface Movement Radar (SMR).

1.2  This paper will review present IFATCA policy on SMR based on related ICAO documentation.

1.3  SMR is one of the possible components of a Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (SMGCS). IFATCA policy on SMR (IFATCA Manual page 3222, para 2.2) is:

“Identification procedures for use with SMR, with or without labelled displays, should be established. Until such procedures are available SMR should not be used to:

a)  issue instructions to hold clear of intersections to avoid traffic conflicts;

b)  provide assistance in timing runway utilisation while avoiding conflicts with departing and arriving traffic;

c)  provide guidance information to an aircraft uncertain of its position.

In order to maintain identification of traffic displayed on an SMR a system to display identification labels should be developed. The SMR displays must be capable of being viewed without a hood in full daylight from the normal working position of the controller.”



2.1 Before providing guidance to an aircraft/vehicle based on SMR-derived position information, positive radar identification should be established by the use of at least one of the methods specified below:

a) correlating the position of a visually observed aircraft/vehicle to that displayed by SMR;

b) correlating an identified SMR position observed from another radar source;

c) transfer of radar identification when authorised by the appropriate ATS authority;

d) correlating an SMR position complying with an ATC instruction for a specific manoeuvre;

e) correlating a displayed SMR position to an aircraft or vehicle as reported by radio;

f) automated identification procedures when authorised by the appropriate ATS authority, and

g) correlating a displayed SMR position to an aircraft or vehicle position:

I. entering a runway or taxiway intersection;

II. abeam a building or airfield feature which either shows as a permanent echo on the display, or is marked on the video or grid map; and

III. on a taxiway or runway, provided that there are no other unidentified vehicles or aircraft on that runway or taxiway segment.

2.2 ATC is allowed to use SMR as a supplement to existing procedures (visual observation and/or radio position reports), within the limitation of the radar coverage. The system must enable the detection and display of all aircraft and vehicles on the manoeuvring area in a clear and unambiguous manner in order to augment visual observation of the traffic in this area. The system should be used to provide surveillance for traffic on those parts of the manoeuvring area that cannot be observed visually. The information displayed on an SMR display may be used by ATC to supplement existing methods (visual observation and/or radio position reports) as follows:

  • to confirm that the runway is clear of aircraft, vehicles or obstructions prior to a departure or landing;
  • to ensure that the departing aircraft is lined up on the correct runway;
  • to ensure that the arriving aircraft has vacated the runway;
  • to ascertain that the departing aircraft has commenced take-off run;
  • to provide directional information to pilots or vehicle operators on request or as necessary;
  • to monitor aircraft/vehicle compliance with control instructions on the manoeuvring area;
  • to monitor the manoeuvring area and identify optimum taxiing routes that reduce congestion and assist in expediting the flow of traffic during periods of low visibility;
  • to confirm a pilot or vehicle operator position report;
  • to provide guidance information to emergency vehicles, as necessary;
  • to assist in the timing of landing and take-off clearances in low visibility conditions to maximise runway utilisation;
  • to provide detection and guidance information to an aircraft uncertain of its position;
  • to assist in detecting runway intrusions, and
  • to ensure that approving of requested push-back will not conflict with traffic on the manoeuvring area.


3.1  ICAO has developed identification procedures. However, it is still considered that SMR is an aid to the controller.

3.2  ICAO clearly states that:

“SMR is not suitable alone for longitudinal separation and navigation problems (e.g. maintaining the centreline). The solution to these problems lies in future technology on the flight-deck and visual- or electronic aids on the ground.”

3.3  ICAO has established procedures and requirements for SMR, in agreement with IFATCA policy. IFATCA therefore agrees with it and present policy can be deleted. There however is a need to monitor and participate in the development of ASMGCS and further develop policy as necessary.


It is recommended that;

4.1 That the IFATCA policy on SMR , IFATCA Manual page 3222, para 2.2 and related references to be deleted.


ICAO Annex 14 Volume I; Aerodrome design and operations, Chapter 8.9 (Surface movement guidance and control systems).

ICAO Doc 4444; PANS-RAC, Part VI (Radar Services), Chapter 10 (Use of radar in the aerodrome control service).

ICAO Doc 9426; Air Traffic Services Planning Manual Part II (Methods of application employed by Air Traffic Services).

ICAO Doc 9476; Manual of Surface Movement Guidance and Control Systems, Chapters 4, 5 and 7.

Runway Incursion Alert: Airport ground capacity optimisation and safety; National Aerospace Laboratory, February 1998.

Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control Systems (A-SMGCS); National Aerospace Laboratory, February 1999.

Last Update: September 29, 2020  

March 14, 2020   919   Jean-Francois Lepage    2002    

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