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BA51G Huh?  
User currently offlineBA747400 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 428 posts, RR: 2
Posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1814 times:

I was just listening to BOS ATC and I thought i was loosing it when i heard "speed bird 51 gulf roger." I looked on Flightarrivals.com and i wasn’t hearing things:
British Airways - BAW 51G

London Heathrow Sep 26 04:25 PM Boston (Logan) Sep 26 06:30 PM

Departed. Landed

What is this all about? What size plane is it?


Ps. It must be a full moon or something because all the pilots keep talking in funny voices, laughing, and yelling random noises! Anyone else listening? Its hilarious!

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineChrisNH From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 4421 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 1765 times:

I've seen this too, and I think someone once explained that it is because there is another 'flight 51' that departs LHR around the same time this one does, and it's a way for ATC to keep these two flights distinguished from each other. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but if so I have to wonder why BA just doesn't re-number the flight. Or, why the flight doesn't revert back to 'flight 51' once it gets out over the ocean. As for the aircraft, I think it toggles between a 747-400 in the high season and a 777 in the low season.

Chris in NH

User currently offlineAAMD11 From UK - Wales, joined Nov 2001, 1068 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1739 times:

some airlines use G and other letters to identify non-passenger services - ferry flights if you will.

dunno if they'd be sending a ferry flight to BOS.. unless an aircraft is unservicable.

User currently offlineKa From Germany, joined Apr 2000, 686 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 1689 times:

Actually number-letter combinations are very common in ATC especially in Europe. It has been implemented to avoid callsign confusion.
LH, OS, OK, LX,... are using a system of airlinecode (ICAO - three letters) + 1 or 2 numbers + 2 letters. These combinations have nothing to do with the flightnumber printed on the ticket.
on the ticket: LH3725

Speaking from my experience in ATC confusion with similar callsigns has been reduced dramatically after implementation of this system although many ATCOs and pilots were very sceptical in the beginning.


Keep smiling - you might be on Radar!
User currently offlineSevenair From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 1728 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1632 times:

Ive seen it a lot on the UK, for example AIH678A and AIH679B for the same direction of flight(ie MME-PMI)

User currently offlineRobK From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 4020 posts, RR: 17
Reply 5, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 1597 times:

There's quite a lot of alpha-numerical callsigns on the Europe-USA flights.

BA use quite a few.

Others off the top of my head are AZA62M, AZA63X, IBE623R, BAW5W.

Years ago BAW used to have a BAW79FK too but they've ditched this one now.



User currently offlineLHR27C From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 1279 posts, RR: 14
Reply 6, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1527 times:

It is quite common, especially with LH and BA. Departing from CPT last year we were following the LHR-bound BA 744, whose callsign was Speedbird Five Eight Juliet. I think it is for ATC identification purposes.

Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward
User currently offlineDeltAirlines From United States of America, joined May 1999, 9027 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 1489 times:

I have often seen BAW51G come up when I'm browsing the Boston ACARS logs...I'm pretty sure it's a 744 going from LHR to JFK...


User currently offlineChrisNH From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 4421 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1452 times:

OK, I guess we've pretty much agreed that this is done to avoid confusion with ATC. But it puzzles me why that is a better solution than simply renumbering the flight?? ATC could STILL get confused if the 'G' in the callsign is stepped on during a transmission. Oh well...there's gotta be some good reason.

Chris in NH

User currently offlineSkymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1446 times:

When I worked at British Midland (and BA were no different), we used to have BD1, BD51, BD81, BD101, BD121, BD221, BD581, BD771, etc, etc all inbound to LHR first thing in the morning. From a commercial point of view it was and still is important to maintain the concept that the first flights into LHR each day ended in a 1, and the next ended with a 3, then a 5, 7, etc. So the GLA-LHRs were BD1, BD3, BD5, BD7, etc whilst AMS-LHR were BD101, BD103, BD105, etc (the outbound flights had even numbers such as BD2, BD4, etc). Having this flight numbering framework makes it easy for the passengers to understand what flights they want, whether they travel on the same route all the time, or on different routes.

Operationally of course, having all these flight call signs ending with a 1 ("Midland one", "Midland 81", "Midland 101" etc) decending into LHR at roughly the same time caused problems, confusion and on more than one occasion misinterpretted instructions. So, operationally a lot of flights had their call signs changed / renumbered (including letters) to remove all chance of confusion, whilst the commercial flight numbers that passengers use remain as they always were.


User currently offlineSkymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (11 years 8 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1434 times:

some airlines use G and other letters to identify non-passenger services - ferry flights if you will

Not usually... Ferry call signs often end with Papa, and flight numbering convention states that non-rev flights should have four digit flight numbers starting with the number 9 (e.g. 9543). Some airlines using the digit after the 9 to designate the purpose of the ferry flight - training, positioning, engineering test flight, etc.


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