Are there any rules for driving a passenger vehicle on taxiways and/or runways at an uncontrolled airport in the USA?


The FAA has issued an FAA Guide to Ground Vehicle Operations - A Comprehensive Guide to Safe Driving on the Airport Surface which covers what they call "non-towered airports"

When the control tower is closed or if there is no tower, the airport is referred to as non-towered. At a non-towered airport, you do not need controller permission before entering a runway or taxiway. Below are some best practices for operating on a non-towered airport:

  • When you approach the runways and taxiways, STOP, LOOK both ways, and LISTEN for aircraft that are landing or taking off. Vehicle windows should be open to do this properly.
  • Alert others when you are using a taxiway or runway by always making an announcement on the radio before you enter. Be specific with your location and intentions.
  • Always yield the right-of-way to taxiing aircraft and give them plenty of room. If an aircraft is headed toward you on the same taxiway, move out of the aircraft’s way.
  • Always carry a radio tuned to the airport’s Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) or UNICOM.
  • If an aircraft is about to land on a runway that you need to cross, stop well clear of the runway. Continue to yield to the aircraft until it has landed and taxied off of the runway.
  • Be aware that some aircraft at non-towered airports are not equipped with radios.
  • Before you cross a runway, ensure that no potentially conflicting aircraft are taxiing, landing or taking off. Be aware of aircraft at non-towered airports that frequently make touch-and-go landings (immediately after landing, full power is applied and the aircraft takes off again).
  • If your vehicle has a rotating beacon, be sure to turn it on anytime you are on the airport surface. Turn on headlights as well, being careful not to blind any pilots in the area.
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    $\begingroup$ This is clearly very good advice in any jurisdiction. Are these rules enforceable in law at all? Also the OP specifically mentions "passenger vehicle", which makes me wonder whether his intent is strictly in the area of the "ground operations" intended by the FAA... $\endgroup$ – IanF1 Apr 6 '15 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @IanF1: My guess is that US state law concerning traffic offences (e.g. careless driving) does not apply on private property. However, if you cause injury or damage, I imagine it is likely a court will take into account the terms of any agreement, between a driver and an airport owner or operator, under which the driver is permitted access. This is just a guess though. $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick Apr 6 '15 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @RedGrittyBrick I asked about uncontrolled airports. Your answer seems to cover "non-towered airports" does this mean that the rules are the same for class E and class G airports? $\endgroup$ – Keegan Apr 6 '15 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ @SpongeBob: My understanding is that the FAA guidance to ground-vehicle drivers at non-towered airports applies both when the airspace immediately above ground level is controlled (Class E) and when it is uncontrolled (Class G). $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick Apr 6 '15 at 23:31

I actually work at a "non controlled" (no tower) airport in southern Arizona. I strongly advise not to drive on the runway.

I recently made that mistake.

I made sure we were safe, there was no traffic in the pattern and took all necessary precautions to ensure my brother in law would be safe as he made 4 passes on his motorcycle.

However, unbeknownst to me, doing so is highly illegal! It's no laughing matter. I now have to answer to the local police and the FAA.

If you are insisting on doing a run, go talk to the Airport Manager first. I mistakenly asked the F.B.O. personnel for permission and not the site manager.

Some places will let you apply for a permit to do curtain things at an airport.


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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE. Could you please consider editing your answer to improve it? Adding a bit of formatting (paragraphs and such) helps with readability. Plus, we tend to prefer strong statements to be sourced, do you have a reference to confirm that, as you say, "it is a federal crime"? (also, please avoid using all caps, it is considered a bit rude on the internet, and thankfully we do not write NOTAMs here). $\endgroup$ – Federico Aug 22 '18 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ I edited your answer a bit; while your experience is useful in the answer, please provide a link to or a citation of which code/law/regulation is in play for a crime to be committed. That will massively help your answer. $\endgroup$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 22 '18 at 14:08

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