GentFromAlaska
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Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:37 pm

I noticed today (Wednesday) UA has a departing flight 726 which operates DCA-IAH. Which is in flight which my wife happens to be on as I write. Connecting in IAH to a ANC flight later today.

F9 also operates an inbound flight # 726 between DEN-DCA. F9 flight # 726 is in DCA airspace or landing at about the same time UA 726 is taxiing out or would have just departed. Both are A319

From an ATC perspective is having two airlines operating the same flight numbers (except for the company designator) at on or over the same airport at the same time on the same equipment an accident waiting to happen?

Last year I saw WN flying two flights with the same flight number into PVD. The second was to replace a delayed aircraft at PVD. One flight was PVD-BWI while the other was a good 2 hours out flying from either RSW or FLL to PVD.

[Edited 2013-08-28 09:45:17]

[Edited 2013-08-28 10:00:10]

[Edited 2013-08-28 10:39:08]
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TimRees
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:52 pm

Quoting GentFromAlaska (Thread starter):
From an ATC perspective is having to airlines operating the same flight numbers (except for the company designator) at on or over the same airport at the same time on the same equipment an accident waiting to happen?

More and more often European carriers use alpha-numeric call-signs to avoid this problem. If you look at flight radar 24 or similar you will see just how many aircraft use these call-signs. They seem much less used in other parts of the world however, except when a flight is operating long-haul. BA uses such call-signs into the US as does VS.
 
GCT64
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:53 pm

In Europe, where a specific flight number conflict has been reported by pilots/ATC etc. as possibly leading to some confusion, the airlines have changed to an alphanumeric callsign for ATC (while retaining the flight number for pax).

This has now reached the point where, for example, most FR flights are now alphanumeric. Some examples (currently airborne over the UK):

RYR8DR (aka FR9886)
RYR3LX (aka FR9073)
RYR5KM (aka FR4051)

while these flights retain their original callsigns:

RYR696 / FR696
RYR9177 / FR9177

The alphanumeric practice doesn't seem to have extended to the US to anywhere near the same degree.
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atcsundevil
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:29 pm

ATC typically will notify supervisors of similar call signs so that the carriers can be notified if there's a trend. You're right in that similar sounding call signs can be dangerous, not to mention annoying having to notify all aircraft on frequency of the similar call signs. Those issues are typically resolved fairly quickly if they're scheduled flights.
 
ytib
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:41 pm

When listening to channel 9 on UA, I have noticed every so often if there is an aircraft with the same flight number on frequency or even close they will announce that to both airlines. Something like "United 1234 caution American 1234 also on frequency"
 
Tchocky
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:56 pm

It's good practice to advise the aircraft in order to keep things clear. It happens a lot with opposite rotations passing each other in the air, e.g. BAW814/5/6/7, CPA250/252/253 etc.

If it's a serious safety issue and the aircraft are from the same company, callsigns can be changed through official channels. This has been done often enough.
 
roseflyer
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:22 pm

If similar sounding flight numbers are on the same frequency at the same time, the controller will typically notify the pilots of each airplane. This sometimes varies based on workload of the controller.

If the same call sign may end up in the air at the same time or within a short period of time, typically a letter is added to one of the call signs. United 726 and then United 726Charlie so that there wouldn’t be any confusion.
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wagz
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:12 pm

Funny story I can add to this.

I work in ATC at PHL. For a few months a year or so ago there were both AA and US flights numbered 1776 (airlines love employing that number at PHL for obvious reasons) arriving around the same time. The kicker is, they both operated DFW-PHL at almost exactly the same time. So almost every day they'd at least both be in our airspace at the same time. On several occasions I actually worked them both back to back over the arrival fix. Our arrival flight strips don't show the origin point or anything else besides an arrival fix, so I actually found out from one of the crews that they both originated at DFW. I advised one of them that the other would be on frequency momentarily and mentioned that "you probably already heard them back on Washington Center's frequency". Their response was along the lines of "Yeah, we've been following them all the way here since we took off at Dallas".

That went on for months until US was forced to change the flight number (we were told AA apparently had that flight number on that route first). AWE1776 changed to some other flight at another time of day after that, but I just saw AAL1776 arriving the other day.

Officially our rule book says in this situation we should repeat the airline callsign as in "American 1776 American", but nothing is a perfect solution as pilots will still sometimes take the wrong instruction even when the flight number isn't the same but sounds similar.
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skipness1E
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:31 pm

ATC in the US use a differing terminology. At LHR we used to have AA173 and AA137 on frequency at the same time and we still have AC889 and AC899. In the UK the numbers are to be said seperately so "one three seven" and "one seven three" sound confusingly similar. However Stateside it's "one thirty seven heavy" and "one seventy three heavy" which don't sound the same at all. Oddly enough, BA still hang onto their old callsigns / flight numbers as much as possible whereas easyJet and Ryanair are alpha numeric.
 
GentFromAlaska
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:38 pm

Quoting wagz (Reply 7):
Their response was along the lines of "Yeah, we've been following them all the way here since we took off at Dallas".

  

I've noticed on flghtaware.com 800 feet and 1,100 feet seem to be the two most commonly used altitudes separating two airframes flying in the same direction and operating in the same vicinity of each other. I realize there other variables

To bad the flight you speak of couldn't have been separated by 1776 feet ATC response could have been yeah and you're following them separated by 1776 feet. You almost have to think a controller has thought about it.
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xero9
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:13 pm

Quoting wagz (Reply 7):
there were both AA and US flights numbered 1776 (airlines love employing that number at PHL for obvious reasons)

Sorry, this isn't obvious enough.. Why would they like 1776?
 
roseflyer
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:37 pm

Quoting xero9 (Reply 10):

Sorry, this isn't obvious enough.. Why would they like 1776?

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4 1776.
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NBGSkyGod
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:41 am

The other day I had two aircraft, a G4 and a King Air going to the same place, the same route, and same altitude, and their transponder codes and CID's were transposed. The only difference was the tail number and type aircraft.
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GentFromAlaska
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:18 pm

Quoting NBGSkyGod (Reply 12):
The other day I had two aircraft, a G4 and a King Air going to the same place, the same route, and same altitude

Scary!
Man can be taken from Alaska. Alaska can never be taken from the man.
 
speedbird128
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RE: Airlines Flying Same FLight Number

Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:42 pm

Quoting GentFromAlaska (Thread starter):
From an ATC perspective is having two airlines operating the same flight numbers (except for the company designator) at on or over the same airport at the same time on the same equipment an accident waiting to happen?

It is dangerous when crews don't pay attention even after being warned there are similar callsigns on frequency.

I regularly used to have Etihad 455, KLM 455, and Singapore 455 on freq at the same time. Strangely enough it was always the same airline i renamed XXX999. LOL.

If I get more than "was that for us" transmission over a proper readback then I rename the flight. And that's the confusion solved.
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