The Schiphol vehicle alphabet
If you look out of your window from your seat on the aircraft, chances are you'll spot one of them: the famous yellow vehicles that zip across all of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. There are around 30 of these vehicles at our airport grounds. But what do the letters on them mean? At any given time, you can see just about half the alphabet driving by. Instead of plane spotting, let's play 'Guess who?' – the yellow vehicle edition.
The vehicles have one thing in common: they are all bright yellow. This is not because we happen to think it's a nice colour, but because this makes them easy to spot with binoculars from our air traffic control tower. Each vehicle bears a letter or number that clearly indicates who is behind the wheel. We've picked out five, so from now on you can also recognise them when you look out of your window on the aircraft or visit our Panorama Terrace.
C: this is the only yellow vehicle that's different from the rest, as its design also includes black blocks. The C vehicles are driven by our marshallers, who ensure that all aircraft can park safely. But that's not all: they also resolve operational disruptions, such as when an aircraft has taxied incorrectly. The C stands for Control, because marshallers were previously part of Airside Operations. Internationally, Airside Operations can be recognised by the letter C on the building.
K: this fleet is made up of our Lapwings (Kieviten in Dutch), who are our bird controllers. There are four of these vehicles in total: K1, K2, K3 and K4. They chase away the birds at the airport to keep our feathered visitors from ending up in the engines of aircraft, so that you can fly safely!
L: the technical staff of air traffic control (Luchtverkeersleiding in Dutch) patrols Schiphol's airfield as well. They are in charge of performing regular maintenance on the various radars they use, as well as on the ILS located at every runway for take-off and landing. ILS stands for Instrument Landing System, which helps pilots to land the aircraft in the middle of the runway. If you see the letter 'L' drive by, that means an air traffic controller is on the way to check or repair these systems.
P: at the wheel of the P vehicles, you'll find our aircraft authority officers . They are responsible for maintaining order on the airfield and monitoring whether people adhere to the rules. Are the baggage trolleys parked in the right place? Are employees driving below the speed limit? The aircraft authority officers keep a close eye on all this and more. The P therefore stands for Patrol.
T: the T stands for Technical Services, because there's always something that needs to be fixed in and around the airfield – whether it's a burnt-out bulb along the taxiway or a torn windsock, Technical Services will come to the rescue! Note that there is also a 'Tr' vehicle with completely different drivers: the Tr stands for Trainer. This vehicle is used for the practical lessons that everyone must take, since you can't just go driving around the airfield. All employees behind the wheel of a yellow vehicle therefore started out in the Tr vehicle.
On Flight Radar, you can see each aircraft's location as well as the positions of all vehicles driving around our airfield at any given moment.