Driving lessons between Boeing and Airbus Aircraft

In order to drive a car on, across and alongside runways and taxiways you need more than your regular ‘pink’ driving license. You would first need to take an entire set of lessons, both theoretical and practical. We rode along with driving instructor Ronald de Joode as he toured the airfield. It turned out to be a totally different kettle of fish compared to a regular driving lesson.

Before starting practical lessons on the airfield, you must first pass your theory exam ensuring that you're well informed about the rules. The participants will then engage in seven practical lessons, one of which will be in the dark. They will be driving, but just like a normal driving lesson the instructor can always intervene using the dual control of the car. Did you pass your practical exam? You will now have obtained airfield authorisation B(asic). You can then go for your A diploma, allowing you to drive on the runways. You would need this for the position of marshaller, for example.

Mobile Google Maps

There are quite a lot of runways for take-off and landing at Schiphol but can you, of the top of your head, indicate which one is runway 18L-36R (Aalsmeerbaan) or runway 06-24 (Kaagbaan)? If you wish to obtain your airfield driving authorisation, you have to become a ‘mobile Google Map’ of Schiphol as it were. In this respect, you would use the official names of our runways, e.g. 06-24. This refers to compass degrees; the aforementioned runway is located at (0)60 degrees when used for departing traffic. Trainer Ronald will bombard you with questions to test your knowledge: ‘Which runway are we on now? What is the name of the adjoining apron? That plane there in the sky, which runway did it take off from?’ All this while driving, of course.

Driving lesson 2.0

There is so much happening at the airfield that it couldn't hurt to also have eyes at the back of your head. Is that aircraft going straight on or will it turn where we want to cross over? And what will the aircraft right behind it do? ‘We never assume anything, it's better to wait than take a gamble’, Ronald shares. Just imagine what would happen when you cross over while a taxiing A380 is headed in the same direction! We obviously want to prevent collisions at all times. Hence the rule: safety above all. This is why you, as a driver, have to ask the air traffic control tower for permission to cross over at locations where the view is obstructed. ‘Driving through the very busy centre of Amsterdam is easier’, says one of the participants. There is indeed a lot involved in obtaining your airfield authorisation. Compared to this a regular driving test is a piece of cake.