Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS)

Current situation of Airport operation

There are numbers of accidents, runway and surface incursions that caused by the lack of situation awareness and poor weather conditions at airports in the past and current airport operations. Air traffic has grown at an average of 5% in the past 15 years which have put a lot of pressure and workload on the air traffic controllers (ICAO,2010 2). Without a doubt that the increased of air traffic would continue letting down the airport operations due to capacity limitations and unpredictable weather conditions. As a result, new technology and strategic planning of Air Traffic Management must be implemented in order to resolve these issues.

What is Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System?

Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) is a system at airports that enhance the efficiency use of runways, apron, taxiway and parking gates by maintaining the surface movements and maximise runway capacity under all circumstances and weather while sustaining the required level of safety(EUROCONTROL,2010 1) . It is designed by Transtech and cooperating with EUROCONTROL in numbers of airport worldwide. The concept of ASMGCS is to improve the current air traffic systems, procedures and practices (e.g. SMGCS ) in accommodating the airport complexity, increased level of traffic and airport capacity. The system requires Optical Identification Sensor (camera) and Millimetre Wave Sensor (Radar) to provide surveillance, control, guidance and planning to aircraft operators, Air Traffic Controllers, airport managers and other related parties allocating aircrafts and ground vehicles locations on the apron and taxiway. The A-SMGCS will have cockpit simulator and a tower simulator to provide all relevant information for multi-site live simulation and up to date data in order to address the human/hardware interactions of such system (ICAO,2010 2).

A-SMGCS (image embedded from RadioHumgburg on 11 October 2010)

Main Function of A-SMGCS are: 1

  • Increase controller, pilots and ground vehicle drivers' situation awareness by providing surveillance display showing the position & identification of all aircrafts and vehicles at airport.
  • Providing conflict detection & alerting on runways and apron
  • Efficient Routing system (manually or automatically) designated for each aircraft or vehicle
  • Guidance for pilots and drivers indications to follow an assigned route

The implementation of A-SMGCS will be evolutionary through the development of four implementation levels forming a consistent series of increasing system complexity


  1. Level 1: provides surveillance, display systems and procedures to permit comprehensive ATCO situation awareness
  2. Level 2: combined Level 1 functions with automated monitoring and alerting functions, including prediction of conflicts on active runways or incursions into restricted areas
  3. Levels 3 and 4 correspond to the introduction of routing, automatic guidance and planning functions, but have yet to be clearly defined

Many major European airports such as London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Zurich, Geneva and Vienna have already an A-SMGCS Level 1 and Paris Charles de Gaulle has also Level 2. There are a total of 17 European Airports at least operating Level 1 in 2009. Implementation of Level 3 and level 4 are yet to be confirmed with further research and developments. These will be supported by generic safety cases, a human factors case, a cost benefit analysis & training guidance material.

A-SGMCS have specifically focused on these areas1:

  • Enhanced safety nets by the integration of Electronic Flight Progress Strips (EFPS) information into A-SMGCS
  • Aerodrome Ground Lighting with a focus on the validation of the FAA concept on Runway Status Lights (RWSL)
  • Assessment of Non-Cooperative Sensors as a basic step towards A-SMGCS


  • Reduce the rate of accidents( provide excellence images of accurate aircraft & vehicles positions, callsign, speed & intension of heading to ATC)
  • Reduce time of aircrafts taxing ( reduce at least 5% of taxi time)
  • Increase the throughput( increase 5% to 15% of movement rates)
  • Reduce delays of aircrafts being held by poor weather conditions (reduce approximately 10% of weather delay)
  • Improve situation awareness of controllers, pilots, and ground vehicle drivers( since the workload of ATC and miscommunication between pilots and ATC would decrease)

Due to the reduction of aircrafts being held on taxiways by weather or miscommunication, based on a medium WVC aircraft, for instant, Boeing 737-400, the average saving would be 1470000 kg of fuel burn.

statistics from Economic Aspects of Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control Systems (A-SMGCS) by Joern Jakobi, Michael Roeder, Marcus Biella (DLR), Jürgen Teutsch (NLR)

Singapore Airlines- SQ006 Accident at Chiang Kai Shek International Airport (Taiwan) in 2001

The accident could have been prevented if there was a A-SGMCS. the caused of the accident was due to

  • The airport did not have any ground movements radar at the time.
  • Tower was extremely impaired during times of inclement weather and visual precipitation
  • Runway was not completely blocked off as aircraft were still using portions of it to taxi back to the apron.
  • The imminent typhoon reduces the visibility at the airport to less than 600m
  • Central runway lights were still left on as lights for 05R and 05L were operated by a the same light switch.
  • SQ006 flight crew were unable to see runway barricades set up at halfway point, were not told barriers and equipment were on 05R.
  • CKS Airport did not have runway guard lights and stop bar lights installed.


The diagram below shows airports in Europe that have implemented A-SMGCS or are planning to implement in the future.

Future implementation at European Airports (image embedded from EUROCONTROL on 11 October 2010)
1. EUROCONTROL. (2010). Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System. Retrieved from EUROCONTROL on 3rd October 2010
2. ICAO. (2010). Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control Systems (A-SMGCS) Manual.

Want to know more?

Offical EUROONTROL website on ASMGCS
Offical Investigation Report on SQ006

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