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(General) Registration # Question  
User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1917 times:

Ok, I know someone here knows the answer:

In the US, Registration numbers, generally, seem to be in one of three formats

- N followed by up to 5 digits (Contnental is the only airline I'm aware of, ex. N12345)
- N followed by 3 digits and two characters (Most airlines, ex. N117UA)
- N followed by 4 digits and a character (Some airlines, ex. N1234U)

Anyways, the trend is N and at least one number in the registration, may or may not have alpha characters, and there is not a dash between the N and the rest of the numbers. I am not aware of any all-alpha (i.e. NABCDE) registrations.

Conversely, in every other country I'm aware of, the registration numbers are entirely alpha and do have a dash between the "country identifier" and the rest of the registration number (ex. F-WOW, AB-CDE, etc.). I haven't seen a [photo of a] foreign aircraft with digits in the registration number, and I also haven't seen one without the dash (ex. FWOW)

My question is, why is this?

Thanks,

Lincoln


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4 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineNewark777 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 9348 posts, RR: 29
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1907 times:

Quoting Lincoln (Thread starter):
- N followed by up to 5 digits (Contnental is the only airline I'm aware of, ex. N12345)
- N followed by 3 digits and two characters (Most airlines, ex. N117UA)
- N followed by 4 digits and a character (Some airlines, ex. N1234U)

They don't have to be that long, though. I've been on an American Eagle ATR, N4AE.

Harry



Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
User currently offlineBa321 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2004, 71 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 1894 times:

Quoting Newark777 (Reply 1):
Conversely, in every other country I'm aware of, the registration numbers are entirely alpha and do have a dash between the "country identifier"

Not Japan - JA411J
Korea - HL7553
and there may be a few more around.



Fly safe, ba321
User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 1870 times:

It dates back to the early days of aviation. There was a good thread on this not long ago.. and if I remember correctly it can from a way to identify what type of aircraft it was .. don't hold me to this..but...N- was civilian.

Try Googling.. you might find the answer..



"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
User currently offlineYukonTrader From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 207 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 1857 times:

Quoting Lincoln (Thread starter):
Conversely, in every other country I'm aware of, the registration numbers are entirely alpha and do have a dash between the "country identifier" and the rest of the registration number

The "logic" in the registration numbers following the country code are a matter of national law, so various states decide on various schemes of how to immatriculate their aircraft. Btw. A mix of numeric and alphanumeric characters is more common than you think.

For example, some West-European countries use numeric registrations for gliders (sailplanes), and letters for self-propelled aircraft, Switzerland being one example.

There are various ways as how to "manage" registrations. Starting with an easy case, Spain: There, registrations are assigned strictly in alphabetical order. It started with EC-AAA, EC-AAB... and now we are somewhere in the EC-J.. area.

Other countries use the first letter to identify the class of aircraft (weight class, type of aircraft). Again, my home turf Switzerland as an example:

HB-A.. are commercial, multi engine aircraft up to (IIRC) 15t MTOW, e.g. HB-AEE, a Do328.
HB-I.. and HB-J.. are commercial aircraft above 15t MTOW, e.g. HB-IJA, an A320.
HB-X.. and HB-Z.. are helicopters,
HB-B.. are hot air balloons,
HB-F.. are large single-mots such as PC-6 and PC-12 etc.

Germany has a similar regime, with D-A... being the heavy civilian aircraft, D-B... and D-C... being the lighter commuter & multi-engine aircraft (I don't know the exact MTOWs that make the difference), D-E... being single mots, D-H... being helicopters etc.

Other countries seem to let you chose your registration at will, such as Great Britain, where some airlines seem to scramble for "funny" registrations (remember Go Fly with their G-Oxxx registrations, with xxx being all kind of airport codes for cities served by the airline?).

The USSR and the succeeding CIS states use numeric 5-digit registrations, such as CCCP-85001, UR-85116, RA-85833 etc. Some countries are in the process of changing to purely alphabetical registrations when importing new aircraft (be it Western types or CIS aircraft from other CIS states), such as Ukraine: UR-GAM, UR-ZPO, UR-UCA etc.

Others CIS countries create really wild variants, such as Bjelorussia (see Belavia's B737 EW-251PA which looks like a mixed Bjelorussian-American registration) or Azerbaijan, for example with Turan's ex-Malev Tu-154 cn 474 now wearing 4K-474 (i.e. registration = cn).

Another interesting case is Canada which once used registrations of the type CF-ABC. When it ran out of letters, it changed it to C-F and C-G, but I have seen many aircraft that retained the original CF- registration for decades - and I have seen at least one aircraft painted as CG- with my own proper eyes (Millardair's Super DC-3 (C-117D) CG-JGQ after being neutralised and stored in Picton).

So there's a lot of variety, and no global logic except for the unique country codes assigned. Or, hey wait... When the Sovjet Union broke up, Azerbaijan surprised the spotter world by painting an (unofficial) country code on its government Tu-134B-3 and flying it into ZRH as AL-65708...

And then I recall a world-renown corporate-jet outfitter who overhauled the Sultan of Brunei's first B727-200. When it was rolled out of the hangar, it wore registration VS-1HB, which was changed a few days later to the correct V8-HB1. I assume the painter fell victim to a case of unclear hand-wrinting. Proof is in the database...


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Cheers, Lukas


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