ABCs of Runway Safety

Did you know that a 4th runway is being built in Incheon Airport? Not only will it be possible to reduce congestion and manage flights more systematically, but airplanes will also be able to take off and land more safely.

Incheon Airport is making a lot of effort into management in addition to the new runway construction. One of the most important jobs of Incheon Airport is helping airplanes take off and land safely on the runway. This post takes a look at how Incheon Airport manages its runways so that it can function properly

Runway Management #1: Automated FOD Detection System

Why is it important for airports to regularly inspect their runways? Because runways are the most important facilities of airdomes. On regular reads, small foreign objects do not interfere with the operation of the vehicles, but it may cause a fatal accident on airport runways!

Foreign object debris (FOD) includes not only concrete fragments and metals, but also pieces coming off of paved runways and other foreign matter generated during operation. In particular, airplane engines rotate at extreme speed with incredible force, and there may be serious accident or damage if small pieces of concrete or other FOD are sucked into the engines. Thus, it is important to pay close attention and be safe than sorry.

Incheon Airport regularly inspects for any FOD and facility damage. So far, visual inspections have been conducted to check for FOD, but studies are being conducted to identify FOD more thoroughly. In particular, the Airport Industry Technology Research Institute is currently developing an automated FOD detection system that can automatically detect FOD up to 2 cm in size on runways. It will be fully deployed starting from 2021, and it will surely help manage runways more safely.

Runway Management #2: Measuring Surface Friction

For good take-off and landing, it is important to skid on runways to an acceptable extent.

To do so, Incheon Airport is measuring runway surface friction. Friction is measured by an airport surface friction tester (ASFT) as in the photo below.

Since their landing distance may decrease if airplanes slip during landing, it is important to measure and maintain friction regularly. During winter, runway friction is measured after snow removal, and such information is provided to relevant authorities.

The runway friction coefficient is recorded on a graph connected to the ASFT. This information enables a safe flights operation! If a runway is slippery too much or less, rubber sediments on paved runway surfaces are removed in addition to maintenance.

Runway Management #3: Smart Paving

To manage runways better, their foundation must be robust. Did you know that safety-enhancing techniques are applied to runway construction?

Incheon Airport introduced the smart echelon paving method in constructing its 4th runway. This technique was introduced for the first time during the construction of the 3rd runway.

The center part of runways (24 m) can become week easily as an airplane’s load concentrates on it. The technique paves this part of the runway without any cold joints.

It can improve runway paving quality and minimize FOD caused by runway damage. This method is sure to further enhance safety and runway capacity.

We have so far looked at how Incheon Airport manages its runways. As airplane safety is related to passenger safety, Incheon Airport will keep taking care of runways more thoroughly!

Is It Necessary to Turn Airplane Mode On?

“Your portable electronic devices must be set to airplane mode or turned off.”

You may have heard of this familiar announcement by a flight attendant before your flight. Why is it necessary to set your smartphone to airplane mode or turn it off when you on an airplane? You may wonder how turning a smartphone on can give huge impact to such large aircraft.

Let’s get to the bottom of the truth about airplane mode, which you know as common sense, but you may not know the exact reason for, with Incheon Airport!

Airplane mode, a safety setting for all!

To begin with, airplane mode is the function of blocking all communication of electronic devices such as cellular communication, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Since only telecommunications are shut down blocked, you can still use all other features or apps installed in your electronic device. In general, if you swipe down from the top of your smartphone, you can find an airplane mode button. Then why shut down your smartphone’s telecommunications on an aircraft?

It’s for safety measures when an aircraft takes off or lands. When the pilot communicates with the control tower in the airport during take-off or landing, electromagnetic waves from electronic devices like smartphones may interfere with the pilot’s communication. If the pilot fails to communicate with the control tower, it may lead to a huge accident.

Is in-flight Wi-Fi safe?

Many of you may know the above as common sense. Then, some of you may be wondering if the electromagnetic waves generated even when set to airplane mode create any problem. Furthermore, in-flight Wi-Fi is offered on most aircrafts nowadays. If so, are these electromagnetic waves safe?

When there was no airplane mode, everyone turned their mobile phones off. Since the impact of portable electronic devices was not known at that time when such devices were launched, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set up guidelines to shut off all electronic telecommunications during take-off or landing. This decision has spread across the world and is still being maintained. Even today, some airlines ask you to turn your mobile phones off, instead of setting them to airplane mode.

In 2013, however, the FAA determined that short-range telecommunications except for voice telecommunications show little impact. This is why an airplane mode setting was introduced, and why many aircrafts recently began to offer a Wi-Fi service.

But still you need to be careful about voice telecommunications. It may create a noise in a pilot’s communication with a control tower during take-off or landing. Although many regulations have been eased lately, some airlines still emphasize setting your mobile phones to airplane mode or turning them off. Because it’s “Safety First, Safety Second!”

Airplane mode conserves battery life

There is another benefit with the airplane mode in addition to safety. Since your base transceiver station keeps changing in an aircraft flying at a fast speed, your battery may die early if your smartphone is turned on. However, if you turn on the airplane mode instead, you can conserve your smartphone’s battery life and protect the safety of passengers at the same time. Isn’t this great?

If you are still confused, it is best to follow the instructions of each airline. Because some airlines ban the use of any kind of mobile phones in an aircraft. So instead of following your own judgment, don’t you think it is better to follow their rules? For the safety of all, we hope you consider and practice the guidelines on how to use and handle your smartphone in an aircraft!

Pocket WiFi Rentals at Incheon Airport

Aside from your passport, flight ticket and luggage, what is the most important thing to bring with you when you travel overseas? Surely, you must not forget your mobile phone! It’s essential for navigating, making hotel reservations, looking up restaurants and enjoying your trip without an itinerary. The only condition is, you need Internet connection!

You will find South Korea has a solid IT infrastructure with public WiFi connectivity, but if you have to use the Internet on the move, you may need something called “pocket WiFi.”

What is Pocket WiFi?

“Pocket WiFi” is a portable Internet router small and light enough to carry in your pocket.

With just a single router, several people can connect to the Internet. It supports various devices, providing Internet access to mobile phones as well as tablets and PCs. Portable and convenient, pocket WiFi has become a must-have item for many tourists. You can rent one at an affordable price depending on how many days you use it. On average, you can use 2GB LTE data for just KRW 3,000.

Did you know that you can conveniently rent a pocket WiFi at an affordable price at Incheon Airport? Here are two pocket WiFi brands you can find at the airport.

Pocket WiFi Rental Services

The first brand that introduced pocket WiFi to Incheon Airport is WiFi Dosirak! WiFi Dosirak boasts fast data speeds and connects up to five people via a single router. It is portable and convenient as the size is similar to that of a mobile phone. It relatively affordable as well. For just KRW 3,000 per day, you can use 3GB LTE data. Remember that when you used up your daily data, you can only use the Internet at lower speeds!

The second brand that entered Incheon Airport is “PLAY WiFi.” Its motto is “Let’s Play with WiFi,” providing travelers with convenience and joy.

PLAY WiFi also boasts a small size with fast data connection speeds, and connects up to 10 people via a single router. For just KRW 2,700 per day, you can use 2GB LTE data. The same service conditions apply for PLAY WiFi; when you’ve used up your daily data, you can only use the Internet at lower speeds.

Use Pocket WiFi This Way!

Let’s find out how to use pocket WiFi!

Step 1. Make an online reservation

Visit the website of either one of the WiFi brands. Click on “Reservation” and enter your immigration details. You can also select the location for pick-up! Be sure to remember the location because you can only pick up your pocket WiFi at your selected pick-up desk!

If you use WiFi Dosirak, you will have to pay when making your reservation, and if you use PLAY WiFi, you can pay when you receive your pocket WiFi in person.

Step 2. Receive your pocket WiFi at the airport

Now, let’s go get your pocket WiFi at your selected pick-up desk when you made your reservation. Keep in mind that the pick-up spots and hours differ according to the brand. Refer to the pick-up information below!

Step 3. Return after use

You can return your pocket WiFi where you rented it! After you’ve enjoyed your travel in Korea and you’ve returned to the airport for departure, drop by at your original pick-up spot and return your pocket WiFi. How convenient and simple—from start to finish! J

Pocket WiFi, Internet in your pocket for your travel needs! Incheon Airport helps you stay connected to the web from the moment you arrive until you depart, helping you reduce physical contact and interactions with pocket WiFi.

Incheon Airport Nearly Could Not Open

An airport is one of the most important social infrastructures. As its impact on the economy and people’s lives is enormous, an airport is a large-scale project that involves many stakeholders—from construction to operation.

This post introduces the story behind how Incheon Airport, the biggest project in Korean history, was constructed and developed.

The reason why backpacking increased in 1989

Just a generation ago, not everyone could travel overseas. Trip to overseas was prohibited to the extent that no passport was issued for tourism purposes, only for business purposes. The turning point was made through an international sports event. As the government hosted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, there came the waves of globalization and internationalization, where the government reviewed whether to lift a ban on overseas travel and finally opened the door to the world in the same year.

As overseas travel became available for everyone in 1989, the number of outbound tourists exceeded 1 million for the first time. It was due to an increasing number of undergraduates, who went abroad to study and backpack during their vacation. A lot of travel agencies were created in response to this rising demand, giving rise to a boom in tourism. Although the Gimpo Airport made its expansion, it couldn’t keep up with the increasing number of passengers. So, the government decided to construct a new airport in the Metropolitan Area to replace Gimpo Airport.

22 regions competed for the new airport. And the winner is…?

The New Airport Construction Committee in March 1989 narrowed the new airport candidates down to 22 regions in Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheongnam-do, and to 7 regions including Yeongjongdo Island, Sihwa 1, and Sihwa 2 after the preliminary survey. In the final stage, 3 regions including Yeongjongdo Island were competing. Among them, Sihwa was expected to cause a potential noise pollution as the southern part was bordered with land.

Based on the above feasibility study, Yeongjongdo Island was selected unanimously as the final region for the new airport on June 14, 1990.

Yeongjongdo Island is Korea’s 6th largest island. Its original area was smaller, but a large-scale reclamation project connecting 4 islands was executed to construct Incheon Airport, resulting in this large island we know today. Half of this island is used by Incheon Airport.

Incheon Airport stood tall against all odds

Things seemed to go well but had never been easy.


“The airport’s area of 56 million ㎡ is twice that of O’Hare International Airport, the world’s biggest airport, and five times that of Kansai International Airport, Asia’s biggest. It is worrisome if the airport can be maintained as planned after construction.



“Instead of adhering to investing in new airport construction, the scale of the new airport project should be revised to accommodate the current economic conditions by expanding or better operating Gimpo Airport.


The construction of Incheon Airport faced many oppositions from the beginning. There were negative opinions from the one that the area for the airport was too big to the one that it costs too much.

Furthermore, some argued that the project must be scaled down as they could not expect that the passenger demand would continue to rise. There were also other concerns that Yeongjongdo Island was not a good place for the new airport due to the risk of bird strikes, the potential aftermath of ecosystem destruction, construction costs, the airport scale, natural disasters, and environmental pollution.

However, given today’s Incheon Airport, we can see that those concerns in the past were “unwarranted.” For 19 years since its opening, Incheon Airport has proven itself as a hub airport in Northeast Asia and a global airport in the world through its safe and stable operations.

In particular, because the Incheon Airport land area reclaimed between Yeongjongdo Island and Yongyudo Island is 52  away from Seoul and 15  away from Incheon, it is considered the optimal place to operate 24/7 without causing any noise pollution.

Incheon Airport made efforts to minimize any environmental harm by installing barriers in its construction and dredging area to prevent any suspended materials from leaking. It is also currently investing in eco-friendly facilities and reducing energy consumption.

Aircrafts landing or taking off in Incheon Airport do not pass migratory birds’ habitats, and the impact of migratory birds on aircraft damage or operation is very low. Incheon Airport is currently operated by the cutting-edge instrument landing system CAT-lllb, where an aircraft can land or take off as long as visibility is ensured for 75 m. So, the impact of fog is also minimal.

If we were overwhelmed by opinions emphasizing potential risks in the beginning, it would not be possible to witness Incheon Airport today.

We have so far looked into the amazing story behind Incheon Airport’s construction. The next post will dive into Incheon Airport’s construction projects by phase. By looking at how adjacent facilities, including passenger terminals and runways were built one after another, it will be a good opportunity to understand how Incheon Airport has become what it is today. Stay tuned! 😊

The Reason Aircrafts Can Land Safely at Night – Follow the Greens

If you have ever been to an airport late at night, you probably have wondered how aircrafts could find their paths on the dark runway at night.

Today, let’s discuss Follow the Greens (FTGs), an aeronautical lighting system that assists the safe movement of aircrafts on the ground. We’ll also talk about Incheon Airport’s ground lighting control station, which manages FTGs, and the control system that supports ground operations. Lastly, we will introduce the current standards of the aeronautical lighting facilities of Incheon Airport!

How do aircrafts find their way?

How do aircrafts safely land and depart without trouble at night? This is made possible thanks to “ground lighting,” which assists the navigation of aircrafts using lights, colors, and shapes. Lamps with a variety of glowing lights are mainly used to lead the way. There is also the approach lighting system which are lights that are installed every 30 meters along the runway to announce the angle between the aircraft and the ground. Incheon Airport’s control tower tells pilots which path to take along with these signals.

As a matter of fact, until earlier this year, air-traffic controllers had to explain to the name of each taxiway and each point at which to make a left or right turn. With this system, pilots had to perfectly everything about each airport. Sometimes, they would confuse two airports and enter the wrong taxiway.

To improve this point, Incheon Airport was the world’s first airport to apply the FTGs system, attracting a lot of attention. Let’s look into the details of this system.

What is Follow the Greens?

Before the breakout of the COVID-19, over a thousand commercial flights flew in and out of Incheon Airport each day. It was most of the utmost importance that these flights safely landed on the ground and moved in the right direction without any confusion.

The FTGs, which was introduced to assist such a process, is a guidance and control system that uses ground lighting. Before this system was introduced, pilots found their paths through the names of the taxiways. Starting in the month of April of this year, this system was switched to individual ground lighting guidance and control. In other words, aircrafts’ pathways were now shown through a state-of-the-art ground lighting system. These pathways are indicated with green lights, which is how it got its name, “Follow the Greens.”

The biggest advantage of FTGs is that it visually provides pathways on the taxiways. They really help aircrafts operate safely. In April of this year, the results of four-month trial operation of the system were also released. It was reported that the probability of an aircraft going down the wrong taxiway dropped by 77%.

This is good news for pilots, too. Communication about paths of movement has become more efficient, allowing pilots to move without hesitation. There are no limitations in low-visibility situations, such as at nighttime, on foggy days, and in sea fog. The Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) introduced at Incheon Airport has improved from Level 4 to Level 4.5, the world’s highest international level!

What is the ground lighting control station?

Proper maintenance of FTGs is essential. Incheon Airport boasts a system that can control over 30,000 lights on the ground. The ground lighting control station can be called the control tower of ground lighting.

The individual aeronautical lighting control system is operated from here. Each lighting system can be monitored from this control room to see whether they are working properly. Incheon Airport is a large airport, making it rather challenging for workers to personally inspect each facility one by one. This is why it is essential to have a system that can check and replace malfunctioning ground lights every day. Furthermore, the management of all flights, including the vehicles, towing, and flight schedule, is done here.

How did the control tower change?

The air-traffic controller is the person who helps an aircraft safely fly all the way to its destination. They can be called the “traffic police of the sky.” These people are stationed in the control tower!

The control tower of Incheon Airport that was refurbished three years ago is the tallest symbolic building of the airport. Over a thousand flights are controlled from here, as of 2017.

Incheon Airport is the only Korean airport in which the control duties are divided between the airport apron, runway, and taxiway areas. The role of the air-traffic controller is growing with the increasing number of flights and air traffic in Korea. Now, with the FTGs, their jobs can be done more efficiently!

The reason aircrafts can move safely and quickly on large runways is the outcome of a collaboration between the cutting-edge FTGs, ground lighting control stations, and the control tower. To see more related information, follow the link below to connect to Incheon Airport’s YouTube channel.😊

Can Airplanes Go Backwards?

Have you ever seen an airplane going backwards on the runway? You may have seen cars going backward, but airplanes only moving forward in the sky and on the ground. You may think, if cars can do it, why not for airplanes? But still, it is not easy to imagine a large and heavy airplane to reverse. The Incheon Airport will satisfy your curiosity about whether an airplane can go backwards!

Impossible in the Sky! How About on the Ground?

We will give you the answer right away! First, airplanes can’t go backwards in the sky. It’s easy when you understand the principle of the airplane. Airplanes can fly due to a lift, a force generated when its wings move through the air. The lift originates from the momentum of an airplane that goes forward, in other words, airplanes can’t go backwards in the air.

But some airplanes can move backwards on the ground! It is different though from how cars drive backwards, the way we are well aware of.

Cars go backwards by delivering the power of the engine to the wheels. When the driver shifts into reverse, one serrated wheel is added in the course of delivering the power, which changes the direction of rotation contrary to that of the movement forward.

However, the wheels of an airplane don’t receive any power, unlike those of a car. An airplane can go backwards by generating the momentum in the opposite direction. Almost all airplanes have the device to reverse the direction of momentum of their engine—going backwards by shifting the direction of exhaust fumes. This method, however, is rarely used. Why?

No Reverse Thrust on the Runway!

It is because going backwards that way is extremely dangerous on the runway! It differs by model, but generally airplanes weigh hundreds of tons, and if such heavy airplanes generate reverse momentum, its engine and the airframe can be extremely burdened. It can even blow up an object nearby on the runway. In other words, regardless of its feasibility, reverse thrust is not used because it can lead to a secondary damage.

Thus, reverse thrust on the apron or aircraft stand is banned by the Aviation Act. Then, why are airplanes equipped with the thrust reverser if the reverse thrust is banned by the law? In fact, the thrust reverser is used like a brake of a car. It is used to reduce the speed of the airplane when it is landing. When it is used this way, using the reverse thrust is legally allowed.

Towing Car, a Small Giant in the Airport

For those who take an airplane often might not get it because from time to time, airplanes do go backwards after boarding. In fact, this is done by a towing car carrying the airplane. A towing car is a car that tows the airplane on the runway. In order to prevent the damage that can be caused by the reverse thrust of an airplane, towing cars are used to carry airplanes backwards on the runway.

For reference, an airplane is 15 times heavier than a towing car. The secret of the Herculean strength of a towing car lies in its engine. A towing car has an engine displacement of 10,000 cc, 5 times greater than that of an ordinary vehicle. Its gear can be shifted up to four forward and three backward (a total of seven), which enables it to carry the airplane around with enormous power.

Now, is your curiosity of an airplane going backwards satisfied? To summarize, airplanes can’t go backwards in the sky and can on the ground. For the sake of safety, airplanes don’t use its own device to go backwards on the runway but instead, it is carried by a towing car. If you see an airplane going backwards one day in the Incheon Airport, try to look for a towing car below it!