SMGCSSurface Movement Guidance and Control System
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There is a whole collection of lighting, marking and sign standards called surface movement guidance and control system, SMGCS, (pronounced, "SMIGS") that an airport can implement to "officially" support runway operations under 1200 RVR.
Pilots operating under Part 91 of the FARs can take off in any weather, and you may choose to do so at your home 'drome that perhaps only has a Cat I ILS and isn't SMGCS equipped.
There are SMGCS terms that many of us may have heard and even used without fully knowing what they mean.
Taxi route, when applied in a SMGCS environment, isn't just any route you follow from the ramp to the runway (or back), it's a specific, designated route marked and equipped for low visibility operations.
According to the SMGCS bible (AC120-57A, which is about as absorbing as aircraft certification standards and the rest of the FARs.), a surface movement surveillance system is (SMSS), "A system which provides positive identification and accurate positional information on all aircraft and vehicles." Many SMGCS-controlled airports do have some system--typically a version of Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE)--that allows the controllers to essentially see aircraft and other vehicles through the fog.
Each SMGCS implementation is different and not all the SMGCS lights, markings and signs will be present at all airports, or even at all places on a SMGCS airport.
Any airport officially supporting operations below 1200 RVR must be SMGCS compliant, but those air ports wishing to support operations below 600 RVR are required to have a much more extensive complement of SMGCS lights, markings and signs.
Completed projects include London Gatwick in 1999, London Stansted in 2003 and Edinburgh in 2004 with work currently in progress at Aberdeen plus installation of the second phase of London Gatwick to add approach and runway services to the existing SMGCS system.
The system is designed and manufactured by atg airports and can accommodate the control and monitoring of the simplest airstrip AGL system to a sophisticated CAT III B SMGCS system for a major international airport.
He pointed out: "In the future, developments in taxiway lighting in particular are expected to be allied to the new automatic SMGCS (Surface Movement Guidance and Controls) technology that will offer pilots a seamless lighting progression, from departure push-back to manoeuvring their aircraft onto arrival stands."