qslinger
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Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:54 am

Hi there,

My sincere apologies if this has been discussed before(and I am sure it has). I did a search but came up with nothing.

My question is, how to airlines get their codes? Like United is UA, American is AA, Delta is DL, which all seem obvious, but South West is WN, Jet Ariways is 9W etc, how are they allocated? Are the airlines codes allocated by IATA or can the airline pick its own code?
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Viscount724
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:10 am



Quoting Qslinger (Thread starter):
My question is, how to airlines get their codes? Like United is UA, American is AA, Delta is DL, which all seem obvious, but South West is WN, Jet Ariways is 9W etc, how are they allocated? Are the airlines codes allocated by IATA or can the airline pick its own code?

Yes the codes are assigned by IATA and yes a new airline can pick their code, but only from available combinations and most 2-letter codes are already taken. So the code may often not be very meaningful. At most you may be able to get one letter to match unless you're lucky.

When an airline goes out of business, their code is often reassigned but they usually wait a few years before re-using a code. For example, the OZ code originally used by US regional carrier Ozark Airlines that merged with TWA in 1986, is now used by Asiana Airlines in Korea. And BR which was the code for British Caledonian Airways that merged with British Airways in 1987 is now the code for EVA Air in Taiwan. And TE which was Air New Zealand's code before it changed to NZ (TE was based on their original name Tasmen Empire Airways) is now the code for Lithuanian Airlines.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:40 am

BTW call signs and IATA codes are not the same. IATA codes are two letter to fit in booking databases. Call signs are words easy to understand over the radio.

For example, British Airways has the IATA code BA but the callsign Speedbird.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
mark5388916
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:28 am



Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 2):

Also, its Callsign is 2 diff rent things. Using your example, written out it would be BAW104, yet it would be called on the radio as Speedbird 104. Same for SWR104 is Swiss 104, yet its IATA code is LX. Clear as mud right?

Mark
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Viscount724
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:13 am



Quoting Mark5388916 (Reply 3):
Also, its Callsign is 2 diff rent things. Using your example, written out it would be BAW104, yet it would be called on the radio as Speedbird 104. Same for SWR104 is Swiss 104, yet its IATA code is LX.

The 2-letter IATA code (e.g.BA, AC) is used for reservations/ticketing/schedules. The 3-letter ICAO code (e.g. BAW, ACA) is used for operational purposes such as Air Traffic Control. The passenger never has any contact with the ICAO codes.

Airlines also have 3-digit numerical IATA codes (e.g. AC is 014, LX is 724) which appear on tickets and are important for accounting purposes.
 
pilotboi
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:50 am

To sum up what everyone has already said (and with an added line of my own):

The 2-letter IATA code (e.g.BA, AC) is used for reservations/ticketing/schedules.

The 3-letter ICAO code (e.g. BAW, ACA) is used for operational purposes such as Air Traffic Control. The passenger never has any contact with the ICAO codes.

The callsign (e.g. Speedbird, Delta) is an easily said word used for communication with ATC.

The 3-digit numerical IATA codes (e.g. AC is 014, LX is 724) which appear on tickets and are important for accounting purposes.

The 2-digit numerical Boeing code (e.g. DL is 32) is used for manufactuering purposes. For example, a 757-200 designed specically for Delta is more specifically known as a 757-232. (I believe Airbus also has a system like this, but I am not positive, if anyone wants to answer that one).
 
mark5388916
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:00 am



Quoting Pilotboi (Reply 5):
The 2-digit numerical Boeing code (e.g. DL is 32) is used for manufactuering purposes

They have some that are now 1 letter and 1 number (e.g. WN is H4).

Mark
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blueflyer
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:39 am

Quoting Pilotboi (Reply 5):
The passenger never has any contact with the ICAO codes.

Many charter operators do not have an IATA code (no need for one since their flights cannot be booked separately), others have one but do not use it (same reason) and at the airport, passengers can find their flights listed under XLA123 (XL Airways), OHY456 (Onur Air) or TAY789 (TNT Airways - operating pax charters with QC aircraft).

Quoting Pilotboi (Reply 5):
(I believe Airbus also has a system like this, but I am not positive, if anyone wants to answer that one).

Airbus numbers their aircraft according to series, engine manufacturer and engine version, not by customer. Take the A320-214, for instance, delivered new to IB, OS and PR (among others).
It is an A320-200 (duh)
The engine is made by CFM (the 1 in A320-214 is the engine code for CFM)
It is equipped with the fourth version of the engine (the 4 in A320 -214).

Other engine codes are:
0 = GE
2 = P&W
3 = IAE
4 = RR

The engine codes carry over from model to model, even though the engines are different. So a A300-214 would also be powered by a fourth-generation CFM engine, even though the actual engine is different than the one mounted on a A320-214 (and yes, I made up the A300-214).

[Edited 2008-01-13 22:40:47]
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Starlionblue
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:52 am



Quoting Pilotboi (Reply 5):
The 2-digit numerical Boeing code (e.g. DL is 32) is used for manufactuering purposes. For example, a 757-200 designed specically for Delta is more specifically known as a 757-232. (I believe Airbus also has a system like this, but I am not positive, if anyone wants to answer that one).

As BlueFlyer says, Airbi are a bit different.

Shameless self plug of my page with airliner version codes: http://www.rosboch.net/aviation.htm#Codes
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
pilotboi
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:16 pm



Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 7):
Airbus numbers their aircraft according to series, engine manufacturer and engine version, not by customer

Interesting! Thanks!

Quoting Mark5388916 (Reply 6):
They have some that are now 1 letter and 1 number (e.g. WN is H4).

Woops, forgot to mention that. Of course Boeing has more then 100 customers! :-P
 
Viscount724
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RE: Airline Codes / Call Signs

Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:35 pm



Quoting Pilotboi (Reply 9):
Quoting Mark5388916 (Reply 6):
They have some that are now 1 letter and 1 number (e.g. WN is H4).

Woops, forgot to mention that. Of course Boeing has more then 100 customers!

There are also quite a few Boeing customer codes with 2 letters and no numbers. For example, WestJet's Boeing code is CT, so their 737-700s are officially 737-7CTs.

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