Runway signs show the ILS category next to the runway designation. But if you flew and didn't drive to the airport, you already know (hopefully). Either way, you are taking off, so you don't really much care. One might say that you will have to land again in case of emergency, but ATC might not give you the same runway. So what's the reason of showing ILS category on runway signs?

Note: I changed "markings" to "signs" in this question since markings are painted on the ground, signs are the red ones I am asking for.


EDIT: The linked question is not exactly the same:

What is the purpose of several mandatory stops (RWY AHEAD) at busy airports?

What are mandatory stops? How are they several? (I never noticed that). I didn't know all these until I asked about the "runway signs". The other question presumes that you are familiar with some terminology. And it doesn't mention ILS.

Also, it looks like a similar case. I vote for reopening.

  • 1
    If the downvoter cares to explain I would really appreciate it. – Stelios Adamantidis Sep 22 '15 at 6:06
up vote 13 down vote accepted

These markings designate the hold-short point during different runway operations.

Runway hold-short points are marked by white text on a red background. They designate a point which any aircraft must not cross without an explicit clearance from ATC. Note that in the below picture, there are two markings:

enter image description here

Cat II or III ILS is used during low visibility operations. In the case of an auto-land, the autopilot literally lands the plane on the runway. To do this, the aircraft systems need a very precise signal from the ILS antenna. Any aircraft on the ground crossing the line of sight between the ILS antenna and the landing aircraft will interfere the signal, sending the landing plane off course.

When a plane is landing on Cat II or III, other planes on the ground need to stay further back the runway. This has an undesirable side effect - the airport capacity is reduced. If somebody is doing a visual approach on a clear day, you can move a bit closer.

This is what happened to a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 when it used auto-land without informing ATC. Since no one is aware they're using auto-land, the standard hold-short procedure (rather than the low visibility procedure) applies. They drifted off the runway pretty much like a racecar!

  • The linked video no longer exists on youtube. – Jamiec Sep 21 '15 at 11:36
  • 1
    @Jamiec I fixed the link. See also this answer about autoland. – DeltaLima Sep 21 '15 at 11:59

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