When genetic algorithms (GAs) are applied to combinatorial problems, permutation representations are usually adopted. As a result, such GAs are often confronted with feasibility and memory-efficiency problems. With the aircraft sequencing problem (ASP) as a study case, this paper reports on a novel binary-representation-based GA scheme for combinatorial problems. Unlike existing GAs for the ASP, which typically use permutation representations based on aircraft landing order, the new GA introduces a novel ripple-spreading model which transforms the original landing-order-based ASP solutions into value-based ones. In the new scheme, arriving aircraft are projected as points into an artificial space. A deterministic method inspired by the natural phenomenon of ripple-spreading on liquid surfaces is developed, which uses a few parameters as input to connect points on this space to form a landing sequence. A traditional GA, free of feasibility and memory-efficiency problems, can then be used to evolve the ripple-spreading related parameters in order to find an optimal sequence. Since the ripple-spreading model is the centerpiece of the new algorithm, it is called the ripple-spreading GA (RSGA). The advantages of the proposed RSGA are illustrated by extensive comparative studies for the case of the ASP.