Bruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5083 posts, RR: 14 Posted (10 years 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 4248 times:
What does it mean when there is a letter following the "N" in U.S. registrations, such as "X" or "C"? For example NC7407 or NX826LT? I discovered that if I search the FAA database using that number without the extra letter it usually comes up, so why is there an extra letter? These regs# are usually on old planes and warbirds. I also saw one with an "NL" but what does the "L" stand for?
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
727EMflyer From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 547 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (10 years 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3981 times:
Aircraft registration prefixes were discussed in detail a few months ago. Try a search. It might have been in Tech/Ops...
Anyway, the N prefix, reserved for aircraft registered in the U.S. as well as each other countty's prefix (in some cases one or two small countries will share prefixes) stem from the international radio call sign system. This is becuase no registration system really existed for aircraft in the early days, but several aircraft used maritime style radios and therefore had a call sign similar to a ship. Eventually radios became common place, and enough airplanes were buzzing around to warrant a registry. The radio system that was already in place was simply adopted world wide, with counties reserving blocks of radio call signs for aircraft. Even if an aircraft doesn't have a radio installed, its registration number is ready to take on the role of call sign should it ever get a radio.
Pilawt From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 103 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (10 years 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 3924 times:
The 'N' in US aircraft registration probably goes back to a 1913 international convention that assigned radio call letters to various countries. The USA was assigned 'N', 'W' and part of 'K'. The entire 1913 list is here, and it's easy to see in this list the origin of today's aircraft registrations for many countries.
Eventually the "N" was adopted for certificated US civil aircraft registrations, and a letter immediately after the "N" was used to show what kind of certificate the airplane had -- "C", standard; "R", restricted; "L", limited; or "X", experimental.
Official use of the second letter was dropped in the late 1940s. Today the FAA allows certain aircraft to display "NC", "NR", "NL" or "NX" for historic purposes, but it is not part of the official registration. If a qualifying airplane is registered, for example, N83683, it may display it as "NC83683".
There are limitations to the use of the non-standard marks. In an Air Defense Identification Zone or Distant Early Warning Identification Zone, the airplane must have standard markings (temporary watercolors or stick-on letters are OK); and may not operate in foreign countries "unless that country consents to that operation." See FAR 45.22.
RayPettit From United Kingdom, joined May 2002, 608 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (10 years 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3843 times:
Quoting Petertenthije (Reply 8): Some of the smaller countries still have them. For instance Bermuda always has VP-B** and the Cayman Islands get VP-C**.
Rwanda has registration 9XR-**.
Well, VP-, VQ- and VR- were allocated to the United Kingdom for use by its colonies and so on. Of course, very few of these exist now. The format cannot be compared with DDR of East Germany.
Incidentally, Bermuda used to be VR-B and Cayman Islands VR-C, but these are now VP-B and VP-C so freeing up VR completely, which I heard may have been re-assigned to China. Can anyone confirm or deny?
And Rwanda just has the hyphen in a different place, as the suffix is only two characters.
Still cannot think of a ***-*** format as used by East Germany for a short while.
Ckfred From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 5552 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (10 years 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3734 times:
I had heard, but was never sure, that N stood for "Non-millitary." So, if you saw a plane with a tail number that started with a numeral, it was a millitary aircraft. If it had the letter "N", it was a civilian or non-millitary aircraft.
Makes sense, but I don't know if this is true, or someone guessing and then passing the theory as fact.
Rampkontroler From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 859 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (10 years 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3715 times:
Wow, there's a lot of interesting stuff here! I learned a few things reading this thread.
Quoting Jorge1812 (Reply 6): Were/are there more countries than the former GDR which had ***-*** (e.g.: DDR-ABA)?
While this may not be exactly the kind of info you were looking for, I was always intrigued by the lengthy registrations of Panamanian aircraft. While they have the six letter combination, the latter are preceded by a four number registration. Some examples would be:
HP-1374CMP, of Copa Airlines,
HP-1261PVI, of Panavia Cargo Airlines,
and HP-1227AVL, of Aeroavias Las Americas.
I assume the HP designates Panama, then the numbers, and the rest seems to have something to do with the airline name. Anyone have any information on how this really works?