Aerodrome Reference Code (a.k.a Airport Reference Code)

[Ref The Global Airline Industry ISBN: 978-0-470-74077-4 Chapter 12 Page 350]

ICAO standard

ICAO Code element 1 ICAO Code element 2
Code Number Aeroplane Reference Field Length (RFL) Code letter Wing span (WS) Outer main gear wheel span (OMG)
1 RFL < 800m A WS < 15m OMG < 4.5m
2 800m ≦ RFL < 1200m B 15m ≦ WS < 24m 4.5m ≦ OMG < 6m
3 1200m ≦ RFL < 1800m C 24m ≦ WS < 36m 4.5m ≦ OMG < 9m
4 1800m ≦ RFL D 36m ≦ WS < 52m 9m ≦ OMG < 14m
E 52m ≦ WS < 65m 9m ≦ OMG < 14m
F 65m ≦ WS < 80m 14m ≦ OMG < 16m

NOTE: Guidance on planning for aeroplanes with wing spans greater than 80m is given in the ICAO Doc. 9157 “Aerodrome Design Manual,” Parts 1 and 2.

FAA Standard

FAA Code element 1 FAA Code element 2
Code Number Aeroplane approach speed (V app) in knots (KT) Code letter Wing span (WS) Tail height (TH) in feet (ft)
A V app < 91 KT I WS < 15m (49ft) TH < 6m (20ft)
B 91KT ≦ V app < 121KT II 15m ≦ WS < 24m (79ft) 6m ≦ TH < 9m (30ft)
C 121KT ≦ V app < 141KT III 24m ≦ WS < 36m (118ft) 9m ≦ TH < 14m (45ft)
D 141KT ≦ V app < 166KT IV 36m ≦ WS < 52m (171ft) 14m ≦ TH < 18m (60ft)
E 166 ≦ V app V 52m ≦ WS < 65m (214ft) 18m ≦ TH < 20m (66ft)
VI 65m ≦ WS < 80m (262ft) 20m ≦ TH < 24m (80ft)


The airfield design must comply with a detailed set of standards and recommended practices (SARPsadopted over the years by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and published in Annex 14 of which initial version appeared in 1951.

Annex 14 specifies, among other things: the dimensional requirements for runways, taxiways and apron areas; the limits on the heights of physical and human-made obstacles in the vicinity of runways and taxiways; and the placement and other physical characteristics of air navigation equipment, airport lighting, airport signage, etc

Current, both Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation have developed dimensional specifications.

Both the ICAO and the FAA use two-element reference codes to specify their design standards and recommended practices. However, the dimensional specifications used by the FAA and ICAO for aircraft in each of the wingspan categories are having little difference.

The reference code under ICAO SARPs framework consists of Code Number (from 1 to 4) and following by Code Letter (from A to F) while the reference under FAA framework is made up starting from Aircraft Approach Category (from A to E) and then Aircraft Design Group (from I to IV)

ICAO reference codes = Code Number (1-4) + Code Letter (A-F);

FAA reference codes = Code Letter (A-E) + Code Number (I – IV)

The significances of the Code Number and Letter are also different between two frameworks.

Under ICAO SARPs frameworks

Code Number is referring to “Aircraft Reference Field Length (RFL)” – Minimum field length required for that ACFT T/O at MTOW at ISA while Code Letter is referring to combination criteria of wing span and outer main gear wheel span;

In FAA system

Code Letter is referring to aircraft approach speed while a Code Number is referring to combination criteria of wing span and tail height.


#aerodrome #airport #reference #code


Read More –

# Selected Aeroplane Characteristics



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *