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

Airports are like small cities. They are huge organizations where thousands of aircraft land and take-off every day, and tens of thousands of passengers travel by planes. Under these conditions, there are many technological structures for aircraft to move safely and effectively without any confliction with each other. Let’s take a look at the A-SMGCS, which is extremely important for the Traffic Management in Aerodrome Control Towers.

control towers featured
Vienna Int. Airport control tower

A-SMGCS – Abbreviation of Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System. The definition made in A-SMGCS ICAO Doc 9830 is as follows; Advanced Surface Movement Guidance & Control System is a system providing routing, guidance and surveillance for the control of aircraft and vehicles in order to maintain the declared surface movement rate under all weather conditions within the aerodrome visibility operational level (AVOL) while maintaining the required level of safety.

Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System is a modular system consisting of different functions to support the safe, orderly and fast movement of aircraft and vehicles at airports. It is aimed to operate in all conditions, regarding the traffic density and complexity of the airport layout. It takes into account the demanded capacity in various visibility conditions. This system operates independently of the Controller, aircraft/vehicle line-of-sight connection.

Basic Functions of Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System


Source: ICAO Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System Manual.

A-SMGCS Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System

ICAO described A-SMGCS Levels

  • Level 1 – improved Surveillance
  • Level 2 – Surveillance + Safety Nets
  • Level 3 – Conflict Detection
  • Level 4 – Conflict Resolution, Automatic Planning & Guidance

ICAO defines 4 levels of Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System implementation based on complexity and traffic density in 2004.

EUROCONTROL made a functional definition.

Surveillance Service, Airport Safety Support Service, Routing Service, Guidance Service
There is no contradiction between the two definitions by ICAO and EUROCONTROL as they provide the same functionalities from a different perspective.
Source: skybrary, saab, eurocontrol

Benefits of A-SMGCS for Airports

A-SMGCS isn’t just a fancy gadget; it delivers real benefits:

  • Safety Boost: Real-time awareness of ground traffic significantly reduces the risk of ground collisions.
  • Efficiency Gains: Optimized taxi routes minimize delays, keeping airport operations smooth and on schedule.
  • Increased Capacity: A-SMGCS allows airports to handle more traffic safely, maximizing their potential.
  • All-Weather Operations: Fog or rain? No problem. A-SMGCS ensures safe and efficient ground traffic management in all weather conditions.

How A-SMGCS Works

A-SMGCS is a powerful system that combines several technologies:

  • Advanced Sensors: Radar, multilateration (MLAT), and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) track and identify aircraft and vehicles.
  • Intelligent Software: Processes sensor data to create a real-time picture of ground traffic.
  • User-Friendly Displays: Presents clear and concise information to air traffic controllers, aiding decision-making.

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

Here are some resources for further reading on A-SMGCS:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): The FAA provides various resources on A-SMGCS, including advisory circulars (ACs) and handbooks. You can find them on the FAA website https://www.faa.gov/.
  • RTCA, Inc.: RTCA is a non-profit organization that develops standards for civil aviation. They have published documents on A-SMGCS which can be found through their website https://www.rtca.org/.
  • EUROCONTROL: EUROCONTROL is the European organization for the safety of air navigation. They offer information on A-SMGCS implementation in Europe https://www.eurocontrol.int/.
  • Airports Council International (ACI): ACI is a trade association for airports worldwide. Their website may have resources on A-SMGCS case studies or industry best practices https://aci.aero/.