goblin211
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Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:26 pm

Who comes up with the call signs for airlines in the first place? And in the case of UA/CO or now officially united, what will the call sign be? Just united, or some random name? For example, US airways is Cactus.
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DeltaRules
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:35 pm

US' callsign isn't exactly random, as there's a story behind it. Cactus was America West's callsign & remained the callsign for US after the two merged. Even though the US name survived, there's still a tip of the hat to HP on the radio.
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QB737
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:37 pm

US Airways even use "AWE" as their ICAO code.

[Edited 2010-10-02 08:38:40]
Ben YVR
 
goblin211
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:46 pm

Yes but will United's call sign remain United or will they use Continental?
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B6JFKH81
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:03 pm

Quoting Goblin211 (Thread starter):
Who comes up with the call signs for airlines in the first place?

There are parameters and rules that need to be followed when creating your call signs (radiotelephony designators) and 2 and 3 letter identifiers. I remember having to do the research when the college I attended got their new fleet of planes and the tail numbers were in complete numerical order and were going to cause confusion in the local tower. So I did the research to file the request for official raiotelephony designators from the FAA, with the guidance of the tower manager at FRG and the (at the time) Regional Administrator of the FAA Arlene Feldman. Unlike the airlines, the call sign "flight number" was directly attached to the tail number, and the "flight numbers" were also sorted out to help identify the aircraft type (for example, the new Warriors that the college bought all were batched together based on the last number in their tail number and that was doubled...so when you heard Farmingdale State 33 or 44 or 55, etc., it was a Warrior.). It is kinda cool to think a student can now fly anywhere around the country and use that call sign LOL. But anyway, the rules dictate how many syllables the call sign can be, its relevance to the airline, how close it can sound to another airlines call sign, how easy it is to pronounce, etc.

I can't go digging through the internet right now since I am at work, but on the FAA's site and IATA's site I am sure you can bring up the actual regulations for it. My primary research (since my college isn't crossing any international borders) was through the FAA and was on an advisory circular which laid everything out.

~H81
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timf
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:11 pm

Quoting qb737 (Reply 2):
US Airways even use "AWE" as their ICAO code.

This was not intentional. They had planned on keeping USA as their ICAO code, but it was confusing too many controllers so they opted to switch back to AWE since that was associated with the "Cactus" callsign.
 
mcdu
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:04 am

Quoting Goblin211 (Reply 3):
Yes but will United's call sign remain United or will they use Continental?

It will be United for the call sign for all flights once the company achieves SOC.
 
AirFrance744
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:33 am

Quoting B6JFKH81 (Reply 4):
ut anyway, the rules dictate how many syllables the call sign can be, its relevance to the airline, how close it can sound to another airlines call sign, how easy it is to pronounce, etc.

Then why is FL "Citrus". Because they have a hub at MCO which is in Florida?
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kbpilot5
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:48 am

GoJet's callsign used to be "Gateway" (which I really liked) but they either had to or willingly changed it because it was easily confused with "Getaway" which is USA 3000.

Quoting AirFrance744 (Reply 7):
Then why is FL "Citrus". Because they have a hub at MCO which is in Florida?

Just a guess, but I would think it's because ATA Airlines callsign was "Amtran" which could be confused with "Airtran" over the radios. But again I don't know for sure on this.
 
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Amwest2United
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:00 am

Quoting mcdu (Reply 6):
It will be United for the call sign for all flights once the company achieves SOC.

Really, Where did you get that info?

We are going to use Continental's operating certificate and United's Repair Station certificate.
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JBirdAV8r
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:04 am

Quoting amwest2united (Reply 9):
We are going to use Continental's operating certificate

Acquisition of a particular operating certificate doesn't mean you have to adopt a particular callsign.
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FlyDeltaJets87
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:05 am

Quoting kbpilot5 (Reply 8):
Quoting AirFrance744 (Reply 7):
Then why is FL "Citrus". Because they have a hub at MCO which is in Florida?

Just a guess, but I would think it's because ATA Airlines callsign was "Amtran" which could be confused with "Airtran" over the radios. But again I don't know for sure on this.

I think it has to do with FL Headquarters being in Florida (even though their largest hub is ATL).

I like British Airways' call sign: "Speedbird"
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FX1816
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:37 am

Quoting amwest2united (Reply 9):
Quoting mcdu (Reply 6):
It will be United for the call sign for all flights once the company achieves SOC.

Really, Where did you get that info?

Why would it not be United I mean Northwest became Delta and even changed the to the DAL ICAO. If the planes say United I doubt it would be any different than UAL and "United" call sign.

FX1816
 
BMI727
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:19 am

Quoting kbpilot5 (Reply 8):
GoJet's callsign used to be "Gateway" (which I really liked) but they either had to or willingly changed it because it was easily confused with "Getaway" which is USA 3000.

Lindbergh is cooler anyway. I think that the Mercury callsign for Shuttle America is a good one too. My guess is that they couldn't use one with shuttle in it because of Mesa.
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antoniemey
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:35 am

Quoting FX1816 (Reply 12):
Why would it not be United I mean Northwest became Delta and even changed the to the DAL ICAO. If the planes say United I doubt it would be any different than UAL and "United" call sign.

I could see if CO had a catchy callsign that wasn't the airline's name keeping that, but they don't, so it will be United.

The other option is Air Mike, which doesn't really make sense for the callsign of a global carrier.
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cyxuk
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:15 am

Does anyone know the origin of the "Speedbird" callsign for BA?
 
ThirtyEcho
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:19 am

A lot of the time, it has to do with whatever thingy they paint on the vertical stabilizer that then sticks with them for decades. Remember "Widget"?
 
usair330
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:44 am

Quoting cyxuk (Reply 15):
Does anyone know the origin of the "Speedbird" callsign for BA?

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I believe the call sign "Speedbird" comes from the merger with BOAC.
 
Airvan00
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:57 am

Quoting USAir330 (Reply 17):

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I believe the call sign "Speedbird" comes from the merger with BOAC.

I think it dates back a lot longer than that, the speedbird logo has been used since 1932 and has always been used in ATC communications.
 
planesmith
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:02 am

Quoting cyxuk (Reply 15):
Does anyone know the origin of the "Speedbird" callsign for BA?

BOAC's aircraft and paperwork carried the "speedbird" logo for many, many years, pictures of the flying boats show it being used, and that continued after the merger with BEA, the new airline, British Airways simply couldn't drop such a brilliant callsign...
 
flyingalex
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:47 am

Quoting Airvan00 (Reply 18):

I think it dates back a lot longer than that, the speedbird logo has been used since 1932 and has always been used in ATC communications.

Mostly correct. More details can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedbird

One of my favourite callsigns is "Stardust", which is XL Airways Germany. They started life as a subsidiary of the British XL Group, and operated under the name Star XL for the first few years.

Oh, and a good one that is sadly no longer with us: SkyEurope used the callsign "Relax". 
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skymiler
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:14 pm

Pan Am was "Clipper" ..... a nod to the flying boats
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71Zulu
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:42 pm

Quoting FX1816 (Reply 12):
If the planes say United I doubt it would be any different than UAL and "United" call sign.

The company has said they will use the CO op certificate so the post merger call sign might indeed be "Continental". Really won't be a big deal as many airliners have a call sign different from what is painted on the side of the plane.
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mcdu
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:15 pm

Quoting amwest2united (Reply 9):
Really, Where did you get that info?

Because the airline is named "United"

Quoting amwest2united (Reply 9):
We are going to use Continental's operating certificate and United's Repair Station certificate.

Hate be harsh but we have beaten this horse to death in previous threads. The operating certificate is the NOT the call sign. It is the book of allowable rules for operating the flights. CO flies ETOPS on the 737 and a few other approach and operational changes that would have required the UAL certificate to gain approval for the modifications. The easier path was to adopt the CO certificate as far as the FAA was concerned. This is does not affect the call sign.
 
26point2
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:49 pm

I remember "Gopher"? Perhaps from Minnesota?

Clever using a ground burrowing rodent as an airline callsign.
 
einsteinboricua
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:49 pm

Quoting 71Zulu (Reply 22):
Quoting FX1816 (Reply 12):
If the planes say United I doubt it would be any different than UAL and "United" call sign.

The company has said they will use the CO op certificate so the post merger call sign might indeed be "Continental". Really won't be a big deal as many airliners have a call sign different from what is painted on the side of the plane.

It would seem really strange calling United flights "Continental" on the ATC. Though call signs are indeed different they don't use the name of an airline. For all intents and purposes, if the CO callsign and IATA/ICAO designator codes survive, then for all intents and purposes this was a reverse takeover.
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1stfl94
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:52 pm

Is British Airways the only carrier to have more than one callsign? They have Speedbird as their main one, Shuttle for UK domestic flights and Santa for Christmas charters.
 
xtoler
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:04 pm

I always liked Waterski. No offense to the Lindberghs, even though I thought Gateway was pretty good. Either way it's a nod to STL. Some of these call signs have some interesting backstories.
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sstsomeday
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:26 pm

Canadian Airlines, originally C.P. Air and Candian Pacific AIrlines, used the call sign "Empress" which, as a boy, I thought was cool since "Air Canada" simply used "Air Canada."

They named all of their aircraft after places or areas they flew to, "Empress of Asia," "Empress of Lima," etc. These names were for publicity, had no official bearing and were sometimes changed.

Using Empress names and the "Empress" call sign paid homage to the company's beginnings in the late 1800's with the birth of the Canadian Pacific Empress fleet of ocean going passenger ships owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
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BMIFlyer
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:41 pm

Quoting 1stfl94 (Reply 26):
Is British Airways the only carrier to have more than one callsign? They have Speedbird as their main one, Shuttle for UK domestic flights and Santa for Christmas charters

Also, "Flyer" for ops out of LCY.
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ktrick45
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:08 pm

Quoting skymiler (Reply 21):
Pan Am was "Clipper" ..... a nod to the flying boats

And I remember hearing that this was because "Pan Am" sounded too much like "Panpan" on the radio.
 
BMI727
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:22 pm

Quoting 1stfl94 (Reply 26):
Is British Airways the only carrier to have more than one callsign?

American carriers will sometimes fly charters for DoD under the AMC "Reach" callsign. Also, a civil flight with the President or the President's family on board will use Executive One or Executive One Foxtrot.

Quoting BMIFlyer (Reply 29):
Also, "Flyer" for ops out of LCY

Is that a different certificate though?
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nra-3b
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:40 pm

I always liked China Airlines "Dynasty" callsign. Also from the the same era, Civil Air Transport (CAT) used "Mandarin".

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eham
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:46 pm

Amsterdam Airlines (AAN) uses the callsign 'Amstel', always reminds me of a nice cold beer  
 
FX1816
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:31 pm

Quoting 71Zulu (Reply 22):
Quoting FX1816 (Reply 12):
If the planes say United I doubt it would be any different than UAL and "United" call sign.


The company has said they will use the CO op certificate so the post merger call sign might indeed be "Continental". Really won't be a big deal as many airliners have a call sign different from what is painted on the side of the plane.

Well being an ATC I'm pretty familiar with the different call sign's however I seriously doubt that they will keep the call sign Continental because of the fact that it was an airline. Yes there are a FEW airlines that have a differing callsign but they are not usually that of former airline names. Yes US is "Cactus" but that was not America West's name neither was staying with "Citrus" from Air Tran and dropping the "Critter" from Valujet. It would be really strange if DL had gone with the Northwest callsign after painting the A/C into the DL paint scheme. If they new UA/CO does not use the UAL ICAO and the "United" callsign then they would most likely go with something different.

FX1816
 
noelg
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:14 pm

Speedbird is from the old BOAC logo and refers to the bird on the logo.
Citrus (and code FL) refer to the fact AirTran originally were based in and around Florida, based out of MCO with a large proportion of flights in the area.

They all have some sort of story behind them. important to remember the callsign is of the AOC holder operating the flight. So as others have mentioned, charter flights can have a different callsigns to the aircraft operating the flight. This is also why BA have several callsigns (Shuttle, Flyer etc), they operate under slightly different AOCs I believe. BD have several reserved, not all of them in use these days - Midland, Granite (BMI Regional from the Business Air days), Baby (BMIBaby), and now Kittiwake (BMI Regional's present callsign).
 
doug_or
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:15 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 13):
I think that the Mercury callsign for Shuttle America is a good one too. My guess is that they couldn't use one with shuttle in it because of Mesa.

That is the case, after Shuttle America began flying all over the US (as opposed to their old NE stomping grounds) they changed because shuttlecraft and air shuttle sounded too similar.
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Viscount724
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:29 pm

Quoting cyxuk (Reply 15):
Does anyone know the origin of the "Speedbird" callsign for BA?
Quoting SSTsomeday (Reply 28):
Canadian Airlines, originally C.P. Air and Canadian Pacific AIrlines, used the call sign "Empress" which, as a boy, I thought was cool since "Air Canada" simply used "Air Canada."

Not entirely correct. CP Air (legal name Canadian Pacific Air Lines) used the callsign Empress. When Canadian Airlines was created when regional carrier Pacific Western Airlines purchased CP Air, the callsign changed to "Canadian".

The Empress callsign was resurrected a few years ago by Canadian North, which originated as the northern division of Canadian Airlines, but was eventually sold.
 
sstsomeday
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:21 pm

Quoting noelg (Reply 35):
They all have some sort of story behind them. important to remember the callsign is of the AOC holder operating the flight. So as others have mentioned, charter flights can have a different callsigns to the aircraft operating the flight. This is also why BA have several callsigns (Shuttle, Flyer etc),

I'm not sure if I agree with this protocol. If I was a pilot looking for traffic, and it was designated "Speedbird," then I would be looking for an A/C in BA colors. If it were called something other than Speedbird, then I'd be looking for something "other than" BA. I think this might cause confusion. I think each airline should have one call sign. I understand that sometimes their are specialty color schemes, but I think this would still help; when told to follow, or go next, or wait until so-and-so exits the runway, etc.
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RobK
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:36 am

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 31):
American carriers will sometimes fly charters for DoD under the AMC "Reach" callsign.

Reach callsign has been dead for some time on the CRAF aircraft. They use Camber these days.
 
ORDfan
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:24 am

Anyone know of any other callsigns that haven't been listed? A few airlines seem like they could use them: Lufthansa, Singapore, Aerolineas? Continental is a bit of mouthful, too: what is/was their callsign?
 
etherealsky
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:39 am

'Brickyard' is Republic's callsign. (Reference to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

Quoting SSTsomeday (Reply 38):
I'm not sure if I agree with this protocol. If I was a pilot looking for traffic, and it was designated "Speedbird," then I would be looking for an A/C in BA colors. If it were called something other than Speedbird, then I'd be looking for something "other than" BA.

A fair point, but it's been my experience that ATC usually goes by aircraft type, not callsign, when advising pilots of traffic. (example: "Cleared to land number 2 behind the __(aircraft type)__ ." If the traffic is of the same airline/operator, they're referred to as "company traffic" or "company _(aircraft type)_."

Quoting 1stfl94 (Reply 26):
Is British Airways the only carrier to have more than one callsign?

Depending on whether or not you count AA as separate from MQ (they're both owned by AMR) AA uses "American" for the mainline flights (obviously  ) and "EagleFlight" for the regional flights.
"And that's why you always leave a note..."
 
CPH-R
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:08 am

Quoting etherealsky (Reply 41):
Depending on whether or not you count AA as separate from MQ (they're both owned by AMR) AA uses "American" for the mainline flights (obviously ) and "EagleFlight" for the regional flights.

Not to mention "Executive Eagle" for the ATR72 ops out of SJU. Or was that just a 'paper callsign'?
 
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Faro
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:18 pm

"Kestrel" and "trojan" were previously used by the old British Airtours. Don't know if this continued with their transformation into MyTravel and subsequently Thomas Cook.

Faro
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BMIFlyer
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:55 pm

Quoting faro (Reply 43):
"Kestrel" and "trojan" were previously used by the old British Airtours. Don't know if this continued with their transformation into MyTravel and subsequently Thomas Cook.

Mytravel continued with Kestrel yes.

Thomas cook was TopJet, but is now Kestrel  
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
 
opso1
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:36 am

One Harrier Squadron I was on toyed with the idea of "Upper" for a while- it made for an interesting frequency check-in for a 2 ship formation :

"Upper"
"Upper 2"
"London Mil, Upper with you"...

A 3 ship formation would be callsigned "Airtight"...

Laughed? I nearly had to toggle down!

We got told off and changed it...
 
oly720man
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:27 am

Air 2000 used to have "Air 2000" as the callsign but it soon became apparent that the number could cause problems so they hit upon "Jetset".
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pilotpip
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:40 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 13):

Lindbergh is cooler anyway. I think that the Mercury callsign for Shuttle America is a good one too. My guess is that they couldn't use one with shuttle in it because of Mesa.
Quoting doug_Or (Reply 36):

That is the case, after Shuttle America began flying all over the US (as opposed to their old NE stomping grounds) they changed because shuttlecraft and air shuttle sounded too similar.

We were also "crossroads" for about a day and a half (literally). They changed that one because it sounded similiar to a 135 operator or something. I find it funny that we changed it because of Mesa yet both carriers flew in and out of IAD and a number of East Coast airports without issue.

Every now and then, particularly out west, we'll still have somebody call us "Shuttlecraft". ABQ is particularly bad about it. Funny to hear that 3-4 years after the callsign was changed. It's been "Mercury" as long as I've been here.
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calpilot
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RE: Who's Behind The Call Signs?

Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:48 pm

Quoting amwest2united (Reply 9):
Really, Where did you get that info?

In case you haven't got the word in the last 5days; yes we are using United callsign.

You can reference the flight ops bulletin post transaction.

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