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Letters In Call Signs  
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4004 posts, RR: 2
Posted (2 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 3303 times:
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I think I know (most of the time) why airlines use letters in their call signs when talking to ATC. What I am wondering is whether there is any logic in the "translation" between flight numbers and call signs. I know some British charter carriers use two letters, one each for inbound and outbound flights, but other carriers seem totally random.

For example, why does TAY161 become Quality 61 Golf instead of Quality 16 Golf, or Quality 61 Lima or another other option? I can't equally find any logic for Speedbird or Lufthansa, among others. Is there any or is it random?


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12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinewilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9033 posts, RR: 75
Reply 1, posted (2 years 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 3276 times:
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Quoting blueflyer (Thread starter):

On LH short haul flights the numbers and letters are random. So you cannot see which flight number it actually is.
The callsigns remain the same everyday. So with some research you can find out which flight it is.

Wilco737
  



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User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 3263 times:

We sometimes must add a letter to a flight number if there's the same flight no. operating anywhere else at the same 24hr period.

User currently offlineskyhawkmatthew From Australia, joined Oct 2005, 163 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 3217 times:

QantasLink and Virgin Australia append letters to identify aircraft with vastly different performance.

The A in 'Virgin 123 Alpha' is appended to identify an ATR, which is obviously much slower than the rest of the Virgin (jet) fleet. Equally, QantasLink appends a D, as in 'Qlink 123 Delta' to identify Q400s (ICAO DH8D), which have much better performance than the other Dash 8 series aircraft.



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User currently offlineFabo From Slovakia, joined Aug 2005, 1219 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 3206 times:

Aside from identifying characters as in Virgin Australia and Qantaslink examples, most of the airlines changed to alphanumerics because it was too common to mistake your callsign to a similar callsign of your own, or even other carrier.

For example, if there was a Speedbird 602 inbound and Speedcat 602 outbound, or if you flew Airline 952 and there was another Airline 592 flight... Airlines moved do alphanumerics so that there is less chance of confusion. Some tried to use alphanumerics based on destination, but of course then you ended with all flights of non-based carriers being, for example, nBP (EZY2BP, AUA3BP, AFR4BP) on frequency in Budapest, so these combinations must be random. Some airlines will then alter them if a similar callsign is reported to be met on frequency regularly.



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User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4004 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (2 years 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2920 times:
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So sometimes it is random, sometimes not, very interesting.

Quoting skyhawkmatthew (Reply 3):
QantasLink and Virgin Australia append letters to identify aircraft with vastly different performance.

I'm guessing ATC has been made aware of the reason behind the use of the letters then?



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User currently offlineskyhawkmatthew From Australia, joined Oct 2005, 163 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2849 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 5):
I'm guessing ATC has been made aware of the reason behind the use of the letters then?

I expect ATC sequencing is the whole reason behind the use of the letters: they're not used in any public-facing communication.



Qantas - The Spirit of Australia.
User currently offlineAJ From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 2391 posts, RR: 24
Reply 7, posted (2 years 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2837 times:

Quoting skyhawkmatthew (Reply 3):
Equally, QantasLink appends a D, as in 'Qlink 123 Delta' to identify Q400s (ICAO DH8D), which have much better performance than the other Dash 8 series aircraft.

Additionally, Qantas (mainline) uses a D for a delayed service, as it is quite possible to have two flights airborne with the same flight number otherwise.


User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6039 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (2 years 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2758 times:

Quoting skyhawkmatthew (Reply 6):
Quoting blueflyer (Reply 5):
I'm guessing ATC has been made aware of the reason behind the use of the letters then?

I expect ATC sequencing is the whole reason behind the use of the letters: they're not used in any public-facing communication.

Seems a bit redundant to me. The aircraft type is already part of the flight plan.



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User currently offlineskyhawkmatthew From Australia, joined Oct 2005, 163 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2756 times:

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 8):
Seems a bit redundant to me. The aircraft type is already part of the flight plan.

Yes, but if you're busy dealing with large amounts of traffic (and a lot of 'Qlink' aircraft about: QantasLink makes up around 40% of Qantas group flights), it's a more obvious cue that that aircraft is much faster than the rest. IIRC the Q400 is in a heavier wake turbulence class as well.



Qantas - The Spirit of Australia.
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6039 posts, RR: 14
Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 2738 times:

Quoting skyhawkmatthew (Reply 9):

Yes, but if you're busy dealing with large amounts of traffic (and a lot of 'Qlink' aircraft about: QantasLink makes up around 40% of Qantas group flights), it's a more obvious cue that that aircraft is much faster than the rest. IIRC the Q400 is in a heavier wake turbulence class as well.

In the enroute portion, I guess it'd make sense, but in the terminal environment, it's not going to be as obvious; everyone's going the same speeds. (At least, here in the States they are. I don't know about Oz.)

I'll go ask Los Angeles Center how they feel about something like this.  



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User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25346 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (2 years 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2603 times:

KLM has 2 daily flights AMS-YYZ. They're booked as KL691 and KL695. For operational purposes KL691 uses the callsign KLM31. The other flight retains its actual flight number and operates as KLM695.

User currently offlinefxra From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 706 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (2 years 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 2554 times:

Back a while back, FDX used to use a lot of letters on int'l flights for traffic rights and regauging of aircraft. FOr example (I'm pulling these numbers out of the air) There used to be a FX19 that was IND-ANC-NRT on say an MD-11, then an A300 would operate 19K NRT-ICN and and noather airbus would operate 19M NRT-HKG. I asked once why the letters and was told that often is was due to traffic rigths requirements.


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