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Flightaware BA Weird Flight Numbers?  
User currently offlineSflaflight From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 1183 posts, RR: 1
Posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6365 times:

I have a friend that flew BA 206 today MIA-LHR, and I wanted to check its status on flight aware so I logged on and entered BAW206, and it gives me info that the flight has not left MIA though it should have left at 17:28.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW206

So I knew something was wrong and clicked the all flights next to BAW206 and a whole bunch of weird BAW flights are coming up BAW11J, BAW14G, BAW17V and I find the flight I was looking for Miami-London as BAW21MA. What in the world is that? So I click on it and it's the accurate info for BAW206. What is happening with flight aware? Did BAW change flight numbers to now include letters? I've never seen flight numbers contain letters? How I'm a supposed to know now that BAW206 is BAW21MA on flight aware?

Can any one shed light?

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW21MA

BTW, BA's second MIA-LHR flight is showing up normal? Confused in freezing Miami tonight! For a second I though this crazy weather froze my brain  crazy  and  scratchchin  and  spin 

40 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAirtanzania1 From Tanzania, joined May 2006, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6358 times:

I tried flightstats.com this is what i got:

http://www.flightstats.com/go/Flight...umber=206&departureDate=2009-01-22

Hope this helps.



Awe. 737-200.
User currently offlineCloudyapple From Hong Kong, joined Jul 2005, 2454 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6329 times:



Quoting Sflaflight (Thread starter):
BAW11J, BAW14G, BAW17V

These are callsigns, not flight numbers. They are not weird. They each correspond to a flight number but they do not necessarily need to be the same.

This is standard practice to avoid callsign confusion on R/T in busy airspace. Imaging you have BAW206 and BAW260 in the same sector at the same time. There is a chance for one pilot picking up R/T intended for another. So one of the callsigns is changed to something completely different to avoid this happening.



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User currently offlineJogales From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 437 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6327 times:

For what it's worth, the BA flight out of TPA uses the callsign BAW26T on the return leg to LGW, though it shows up in flightaware and ba.com as BAW2166. Not sure why they do this, but you're not going crazy  Smile

Josh



-
User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6321 times:
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Quoting Sflaflight (Thread starter):
How I'm a supposed to know now that BAW206 is BAW21MA on flight aware?

You're not supposed to know, BA expects you to check their web site, where flight 206 is listed, to get departure and arrival information, not Flight Aware.

Generally speaking, published flight numbers (online, CRS, etc...) do not have to have any relationship with flight numbers as used by ATC. BA is, to my knowledge, the airline with the most discordance between the two worlds, but by far not the only one. There is a number of reasons why airlines would use a different flight number with ATC and/or include letters:
-To differentiate two planes in the air at the same time that would otherwise have the same flight number, say when a flight includes two legs and the plane of the first leg is running rather late and another plane is sent off to operate the second leg on time, or when another flight (generally a long haul one) is so far behind schedule that the plane will still be in the air when the next scheduled flight under the same number is set to take off.
-To accentuate the difference between two unrelated flights that may sound similar, especially at crowded airports where radio communications may be fast paced (eg flight 216 and 260), even when they're not operated by the same airline.
-To designate "special purpose" flights, such as P for a positioning flight.
-I've also been told that certain carriers have preset routes between two airports and use letters and/or different flight numbers to indicate which route is being followed.

ATC have a "translation" chart between the published flight number and the filed flight number, but these documents are highly confidential and I don't think you can count on getting a copy anytime soon.

Finally, and this is more for charter airlines, airlines use the same flight number to and from a destination airport, using letters to differentiate the inbound from the outbound flight, because they might otherwise run out of flight numbers.

[Edited 2009-01-21 22:38:59]


I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineSflaflight From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 1183 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days ago) and read 6290 times:

Ah, OK. Thanks for the explanations. I didn't know this existed. I guess I was assuming a corelation between this ATC system and the IATA system, but obviuosly there is none. I just never saw that before. Kind of cool to see the list of BAW flights with the letter number combination.

Quoting Airtanzania1 (Reply 1):
I tried flightstats.com this is what i got:

Thanks, I actually checked flightstats as well to get my answer, but was wondering what I was seeing on flightaware.

I knew my a.net peeps would have a logical answer.


User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22876 posts, RR: 20
Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 6088 times:



Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 4):
Finally, and this is more for charter airlines, airlines use the same flight number to and from a destination airport, using letters to differentiate the inbound from the outbound flight, because they might otherwise run out of flight numbers.

Some Express carriers (some of the DL connection carriers and AX for UA come to mind) do this as well.

Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 4):
-To differentiate two planes in the air at the same time that would otherwise have the same flight number, say when a flight includes two legs and the plane of the first leg is running rather late and another plane is sent off to operate the second leg on time, or when another flight (generally a long haul one) is so far behind schedule that the plane will still be in the air when the next scheduled flight under the same number is set to take off.

Interestingly, there are instances where two flights with the same filed flight number are in the air at the same time. This happens most often with MQ flights, since they file 3 digit flight numbers. For instance, for some time last year, two EGF459s would be in the air at once: Flight 3459 from DFW to VPS and Flight 4459 from ORD to JAX. Because they were not anywhere near each other, it wasn't a problem.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineBond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5408 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 6069 times:



Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 4):
ATC have a "translation" chart between the published flight number and the filed flight number, but these documents are highly confidential and I don't think you can count on getting a copy anytime soon.

That may be the case, but I've never heard of it. ATC don't really care what the published flight number is.

Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 4):
Generally speaking, published flight numbers (online, CRS, etc...) do not have to have any relationship with flight numbers as used by ATC.

Right, but 99% of them do have a direct relationship. As you say, BA is famous for it's letters at the end of callsigns, and there is thread every month on this exact subject!

Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlinePlanesarecool From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 4121 posts, RR: 11
Reply 8, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 6069 times:



Quoting Sflaflight (Thread starter):
Did BAW change flight numbers to now include letters? I've never seen flight numbers contain letters?

Letters can be used in flight numbers. Thomas Cook is one that comes off the top of my head, they use K for the outbound and L for the inbound (i.e. TCX123K out, TCX123L back). They also save passengers from confusion. When I was in Tenerife, there were two Thomson flights to Gatwick, both leaving at 16:30. One had the flight number TOM4202, the other was TOM4220. It was an absolute nightmare at boarding.


User currently offlineCloudyapple From Hong Kong, joined Jul 2005, 2454 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 6040 times:



Quoting Bond007 (Reply 7):


Quoting BlueFlyer:

ATC have a "translation" chart between the published flight number and the filed flight number, but these documents are highly confidential and I don't think you can count on getting a copy anytime soon.

That may be the case, but I've never heard of it. ATC don't really care what the published flight number is.

Exactly. We don't care about their IATA flight numbers. We don't have any lookup tables and we don't need any.



A310/A319/20/21/A332/3/A343/6/A388/B732/5/7/8/B742/S/4/B752/B763/B772/3/W/E145/J41/MD11/83/90
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21558 posts, RR: 55
Reply 10, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 5979 times:



Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 6):
Some Express carriers (some of the DL connection carriers and AX for UA come to mind) do this as well.

 checkmark  Makes things very simple when the same plane is just going to an outstation and back. There's no way the same flight number can be in the air twice, since the second flight can't leave until the first flight arrives - they're the same airplane.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22876 posts, RR: 20
Reply 11, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 5970 times:



Quoting Mir (Reply 10):
Makes things very simple when the same plane is just going to an outstation and back. There's no way the same flight number can be in the air twice, since the second flight can't leave until the first flight arrives - they're the same airplane.

 checkmark It's a really easy way to double the stock of flight numbers. I suspect that DL will do more of this once the merger is complete, as I suspect that, with codeshares, they'll be getting close to running out of flight numbers.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 5950 times:
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Quoting Bond007 (Reply 7):
That may be the case, but I've never heard of it. ATC don't really care what the published flight number is.

Friend of mine works for NATS in management. That's how I heard about this chart and it being confidential...  confused 



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineDAL763ER From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 524 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 5860 times:
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Also, at LH for its Cityline flights, they use DLH1AC for ATC and 3506 for the general public...so it may also be for subsidiaries of a large airline's flights.


Where aviation is not the side show, it's the main show!!!
User currently offlineLH470 From Germany, joined Jan 2008, 56 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5812 times:

Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 13):
Also, at LH for its Cityline flights, they use DLH1AC for ATC and 3506 for the general public

LH uses alphanumeric call signs on many of their flights, regardless if they are operated by LH, CL, EW, IQ, C3, etc. Regarding your example, DLH3506 would always correspond to DLH1AC, even if operated by LH mainline.

LH470

[Edited 2009-01-22 09:19:39]


319-321,313,AB6,333,343,346,388,732-738,762/3,772/3,747SP,741-744,DC9,M81/3/8,D10,M11,L10,DH1/3/4,CR1/2/7/9,E70/90,AR8,1
User currently offlineRobK From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 3946 posts, RR: 18
Reply 15, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5751 times:



Quoting Jogales (Reply 3):
For what it's worth, the BA flight out of TPA uses the callsign BAW26T on the return leg to LGW, though it shows up in flightaware and ba.com as BAW2166. Not sure why they do this, but you're not going crazy

I think you'll find that isn't true at all. The callsign is exactly the same as what will be showing on the trackers as the tracker feed comes straight from the FAA flight plan system.

If it's Speedbird 26T on the radio then it will be on the trackers as BAW26T, not BAW2166.

R


User currently offlineHotelmode From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2007, 460 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5682 times:



Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 12):
Friend of mine works for NATS in management. That's how I heard about this chart and it being confidential...

The ATC flight number is hardly a secret, anyone could work out which flight is which in 5 mins. Why keep it a secret when most flights operate under their normal flight number anyway?


User currently offlineCloudyapple From Hong Kong, joined Jul 2005, 2454 posts, RR: 10
Reply 17, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 5611 times:



Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 12):
Friend of mine works for NATS in management. That's how I heard about this chart and it being confidential...   

I work for NATS and the last time I needed a lookup table for callsigns v flight numbers for a project, I got one from BAA. We might have some lurking somewhere but we certainly do not need this info in our day to day ops so we do not maintain any ourselves. And it's not really any secret but the fact that almost every document in NATS is marked In Confidence probably means it's not supposed to be circulated to the outside world.



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User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25125 posts, RR: 22
Reply 18, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 5473 times:



Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 4):
Generally speaking, published flight numbers (online, CRS, etc...) do not have to have any relationship with flight numbers as used by ATC.

I wouldn't agree with your "generally speaking" comment. While it's fairly common, it's certainly not the majority of flights, only a small minority in my experience. LH also frequently does the same thing, and I've heard quite a few LX flights with alphanumeric numbers communicating with ATC. ATC of course does use the ICAO 3-letter airline code, not the 2-letter IATA code, but I would say that more often than not the actual flight number is the same.


User currently offlineSflaflight From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 1183 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (5 years 7 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 5298 times:



Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 6):

Interestingly, there are instances where two flights with the same filed flight number are in the air at the same time. This happens most often with MQ flights, since they file 3 digit flight numbers. For instance, for some time last year, two EGF459s would be in the air at once: Flight 3459 from DFW to VPS and Flight 4459 from ORD to JAX. Because they were not anywhere near each other, it wasn't a problem.

Yeah, not to deviate from topic, but I've also noticed that MQ/EGF is no longer filing original three digit flight numbers. They now are filing the matching 4 digit AA numbers. I noticed this for a couple of month now. This means that there are only a very few regionals filing different numbers from their parent company. Apart from OH/COM and QXE who still file 3-4 digit flight numbers different than the mainline flight number as well as FRL who file both, a non matching mainline flight number in one direction and the mainline matching 4 digit flight number the other, I can't think of any more that do. Is this a dying trend? If it is, It's too bad, I like seeing the different flight number. It really pushed the autonomy of the regional from the mainline.


User currently offlineGCT64 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2007, 1384 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (5 years 7 months 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5162 times:

This was discussed thoroughly in:

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...eneral_aviation/read.main/3974937/

and probably many other threads.

The informal conclusion in that thread was that BA had been doing this transatlantic for about 10 years with BAW79FK probably being the first callsign to use the technique transatlantic.

The technique has been used in the UK to reduce callsign confusion from the late 80s/early 90s.



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User currently offlineBond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5408 posts, RR: 8
Reply 21, posted (5 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5106 times:



Quoting Sflaflight (Reply 19):
If it is, It's too bad, I like seeing the different flight number. It really pushed the autonomy of the regional from the mainline.

Well, it's make sense to be consistent. There must be lot of cross-referencing in airline systems, where the numbers are different. and I imagine it has caused some confusion from time to time. Although we keep saying ATC doesn't care about the IATA code, and the passenger doesn't care about the ATC callsign .... they do have to be mapped somewhere in the middle.


Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlineHotelmode From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2007, 460 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (5 years 7 months 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 5064 times:



Quoting Bond007 (Reply 21):
Well, it's make sense to be consistent. There must be lot of cross-referencing in airline systems, where the numbers are different. and I imagine it has caused some confusion from time to time. Although we keep saying ATC doesn't care about the IATA code, and the passenger doesn't care about the ATC callsign .... they do have to be mapped somewhere in the middle.

Not really, the only people who need to know both numbers are the flight planners who file the plan and the pilots. All the other airline functions have no need for the callsign and ATC have no need for the pax flight number.


User currently offlineBond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5408 posts, RR: 8
Reply 23, posted (5 years 7 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 5015 times:



Quoting Hotelmode (Reply 22):
the only people who need to know both numbers are the flight planners who file the plan and the pilots

... and that's who I meant. Presumably there is a cross-reference in their tracking systems/FIDs also. I guess my point is that it's an inconsistency (albeit minor) that does require extra effort somewhere in the chain. There are also many third-party vendors that use the FAA data for analysis, studies, and web tracking, and this inconsistency causes quite a few problems when trying to match the data to airline flight data and schedules... as I can vouch for myself  Wink


Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22876 posts, RR: 20
Reply 24, posted (5 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4953 times:



Quoting Bond007 (Reply 23):
Presumably there is a cross-reference in their tracking systems/FIDs also.

For those carriers that put live flight tracking on their websites, it would be an absolute necessity.

Quoting Sflaflight (Reply 19):
Yeah, not to deviate from topic, but I've also noticed that MQ/EGF is no longer filing original three digit flight numbers. They now are filing the matching 4 digit AA numbers. I noticed this for a couple of month now.

I never really understood why they did it for MQ but not for OW, when both file as EGF. Maybe it had something to do with OW not using congested airports like ORD? I have no idea... Does anyone know the history of this practice?



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
25 Hotelmode : No, the flight tracking is by ACARS which is initialised with the pax flight number not the ATC callsign. The mode S ident is the ATC callsign. Any t
26 Cubsrule : Does ACARS transmit real-time position? I assumed that carriers like DL were generating the maps from ATC data (either directly from the FAA or throu
27 Hotelmode : No it doesnt. I'd always assumed that the airline type maps were based on educated guess work based on flight times/plans rather than actual real tim
28 Post contains links JRadier : You mean something like this?: http://scramble.nl/forum/viewtopic.php?p=281360#p281360 Or shouldn't I have posted that, as it is highly confidential.
29 Cubsrule : The site isn't working, so I can't upload an image. However, DL displays the filed flight plan, position, and heading. Delta's map contains the follo
30 Bond007 : Well, the majority of the inconsistencies we are discussing, here have absolutely nothing to do with safety. I'm aware of the reasons why it's done.
31 DurangoMac : Well knowing how they sometime come up with flight numbers for ATC at my company, there is no chart ATC has, I'm told that depending on the situation
32 Cloudyapple : It has absolutely everything to do with safety. If airlines had chosen "consistency" for their flight numbers and callsigns, we would have a lot of p
33 Bond007 : Yes, but it has little to do with what we are talking about. If it's that much of a safety issue, then BA shouldn't be flying 220 and 2220! Since BA
34 JRadier : Actually, it has. Airlines are using alphanumeric callsigns (which is what we are talking about) due to congestion at their hubs, as a safety thing.
35 Bond007 : The point is that very, very few are doing that, and we'll have to agree to disagree whether most of them really have anything to do with safety. In
36 Cubsrule : If BA needs to do it at LHR for safety reasons, why doesn't DL do it at ATL or AA do it at DFW?
37 Cloudyapple : That's the whole point of introducing alphanumerics. Oh we have BAW220 but we might also have AFR220, KWI202, DLH022, IBE0220, TCX2020... all appeari
38 TimRees : In Europe alpha-numeric flight numbers are increasingly used. Airlines using them I've noted include: BA, AY, LX, LH, EI, AF, AZ, IB, BD, OS to name b
39 Bond007 : So you're only fixing 15% of your 'safety issue' then, aren't you! No, this is/was the reason for most of the inconsistencies. Yes, and I see no reas
40 Cubsrule : ...and we might have UAL220, AAL202, DAL002, USA202, NWA2202, and SWA2022. What's different in Europe?
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