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GatorClark
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Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:50 am

Hey guys I don't know if this has been posted before but I was out at FLL planespotting last weekend and aside from some decent shots of your run of the mill narrowbodies, I noticed something that struck me as peculiar as I listened to the LiveATC.net app. I know that NK's callsign is "Spirit Wings" but all the air traffic controllers were shortening it to just "Spirit". I didn't think much of it at the time as the sound of jet engines spooling up for takeoff was often drowning out my phone, but then listening to the feed from ORD a few days later I noticed the same thing. ORD controllers were using simply "Spirit" instead of "Spirit Wings". Did NK change their call sign or is this just an example of controller shorthand to expedite radio traffic? If the later, is this a fairly common practice? Such as before Envoy was Envoy, did controllers sometimes refer to American Eagle as just "Eagle" instead of "Eagle Flight"?
 
portcolumbus
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:15 am

Shorthand or laziness. You'll hear Frontier instead of Frontier Flight, too.
 
krsw757
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:56 am

I am guilty of using just Spirit and Frontier versus the full call signs on occasion. Usually if I'm busier (still no excuse). Goes both ways though, I've used the full call sign and the pilot will respond with the shortened version. What's funny though is I never remember calling Eagle Flight just Eagle. Just didn't sound right I guess.
 
n7371f
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:23 am

Frontier vs Frontier Flight is common throughout the US. Why does it matter? I get the rigidity of ATC but everyone knows who Frontier is.

Question is what will ATC do when Alaska paints the first Virgin America Airbus (and decals over AS' "Proudly All Boeing")? Will it be Virgin in Alaska colors? During the Northwest/Delta merger, NWA aircraft in the widget were called "Northwest in Delta Colors."
 
jeffh747
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:47 pm

n7371f wrote:
Frontier vs Frontier Flight is common throughout the US. Why does it matter? I get the rigidity of ATC but everyone knows who Frontier is.

Question is what will ATC do when Alaska paints the first Virgin America Airbus (and decals over AS' "Proudly All Boeing")? Will it be Virgin in Alaska colors? During the Northwest/Delta merger, NWA aircraft in the widget were called "Northwest in Delta Colors."

To answer the first part of your question, ATC will continue communicating with Virgin America operated aircraft using the Redwood callsign until they are under one single AOC, and the VX AOC and brand is retired. The paint outside doesn’t matter if the plane is still operated by Virgin. When US/AA merged, I was on a few AA painted aircraft but the crew still welcomed us on AA opb US Airways. That changed about two years ago with the final US flight and they just started saying AA after the US Airways AOC was retired/deactivated.
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Moose135
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:57 pm

n7371f wrote:
Question is what will ATC do when Alaska paints the first Virgin America Airbus (and decals over AS' "Proudly All Boeing")? Will it be Virgin in Alaska colors? During the Northwest/Delta merger, NWA aircraft in the widget were called "Northwest in Delta Colors."

During the AA/US merger, I heard a number of US flights on aircraft that had been repainted call in with "Cactus XX in American colors." That was usually on their initial contact with tower/ground.
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
C767P
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:15 pm

n7371f wrote:
Frontier vs Frontier Flight is common throughout the US. Why does it matter? I get the rigidity of ATC but everyone knows who Frontier is.


"Frontier Air" is Frontier Flying Service, "Frontier Flight" is Frontier Airlines. With F9 not serving Alaska this isn't too big of a deal, but "Frontier" is wrong for both of them just as "Spirit" isn't correct for NK.
 
dr1980
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:57 pm

It makes me wonder why frontier and spirit opted for longer callsigns in the first place?
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Adipocere
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:03 pm

Are there any rules on picking a call sign? Does some bureaucrat have to sign off on the chosen names (like someone at the DMV would for vanity plates to make sure they aren't offensive etc). Are airlines just free to pick Cactus or Dynasty or other random words?
 
33lspotter
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:08 pm

It's also quite common for European pilots operating heavy or super aircraft to not say "heavy" or "super" even when flying into or out of a U.S. airport. They usually don't have to do so at airports in their home countries, so it's understandable IMHO (and I've heard U.S. controllers drop the "heavy" on comms with them as well).
 
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CFM565A1
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:41 pm

Compass Rose to just compass is another.
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Passedv1
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:58 pm

Adipocere wrote:
Are there any rules on picking a call sign? Does some bureaucrat have to sign off on the chosen names (like someone at the DMV would for vanity plates to make sure they aren't offensive etc). Are airlines just free to pick Cactus or Dynasty or other random words?


Yes it has to be approved. I believe it is an ICAO function with the FAA managing it for the US. American Eagle was “Eagle Flight” because of some military unit somewhere was already named “Eagle”. The call sign isn’t supposed to conflict with ATC phrases, however I presume that “Delta” was grand-fathered in.
 
C767P
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:28 am

CFM565A1 wrote:
Compass Rose to just compass is another.


CP is just Compass and YM is Compair. Not sure where "Compass Rose" comes from.
 
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CFM565A1
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:31 am

C767P wrote:
CFM565A1 wrote:
Compass Rose to just compass is another.


CP is just Compass and YM is Compair. Not sure where "Compass Rose" comes from.


The Compass callsign used to be compass rose years ago...
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alasizon
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:52 am

Plenty of times Mesa gets shortened from Air Shuttle down to Shuttle.

Technically, should the pilot read back the shortened call sign, nothing stops that controller from using it for that flight for as long as they are on the frequency but as soon as they switch frequencies, back to the full callsign we go.
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TR
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:01 am

SAS call sign ‘Scandinavian’ at least used to be shortened to ‘Scandi’ both by pilots and controllers at CPH. It’s been a while since I listened to ATC so not sure if still the case.
 
N766UA
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:41 am

C767P wrote:
n7371f wrote:
Frontier vs Frontier Flight is common throughout the US. Why does it matter? I get the rigidity of ATC but everyone knows who Frontier is.


"Frontier Air" is Frontier Flying Service, "Frontier Flight" is Frontier Airlines. With F9 not serving Alaska this isn't too big of a deal, but "Frontier" is wrong for both of them just as "Spirit" isn't correct for NK.


Maybe, but literally nobody cares. 8 out of 10 spirit crews say “spirit,” not “spirit wings,” and almost all will shorten it to just spirit after the initial checkin.
 
bravoindia
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:21 pm

33lspotter wrote:
It's also quite common for European pilots operating heavy or super aircraft to not say "heavy" or "super" even when flying into or out of a U.S. airport. They usually don't have to do so at airports in their home countries, so it's understandable IMHO (and I've heard U.S. controllers drop the "heavy" on comms with them as well).


There is a high amount of American carrier pilots that do no say “heavy” even on the first call when ATC has the requirement to say it every time.
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bravoindia
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:25 pm

C767P wrote:
n7371f wrote:
Frontier vs Frontier Flight is common throughout the US. Why does it matter? I get the rigidity of ATC but everyone knows who Frontier is.


"Frontier Air" is Frontier Flying Service, "Frontier Flight" is Frontier Airlines. With F9 not serving Alaska this isn't too big of a deal, but "Frontier" is wrong for both of them just as "Spirit" isn't correct for NK.


As far as controller mentality they try to eliminate words and be as efficient as possible in most cases, so you are correct in the literal sense that “Frontier Flight” truly is Frontiers callsign, but it’s obviously a “flight” just like most controllers with a brain aren’t going to say “Air” for “Air Wisconsin” or “Air transport” it’ll just be Transport or Wisconsin. Some of the callsigns are just a bit redundant.
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atcsundevil
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:37 pm

bravoindia wrote:
There is a high amount of American carrier pilots that do no say “heavy” even on the first call when ATC has the requirement to say it every time.

It depends on what environment you're referring to. "Heavy" is generally only used in the terminal environment in the US. There's no requirement to use it in enroute for pilots or ATC, so it's hardly ever used.
 
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CFM565A1
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:32 pm

I’ve even abbreviated replies too because my training Airport was always super busy. For those not familiar, in Canada on initial contact we go plane type and our full registration after the C. “172 GABC” any subsequent communications are strictly ABC without saying anything else useless like “skyhawk” or “citation” with the registration letters. I myself will shorten even more if it seems quite busy and if I’ve had multiple back and fourths with ATC (BC instead of ABC). It’s really easy to get your transmissions blocked if you’re at a busy training airport.

We’ve actually had tower call up the entire frequency and say “speak only when spoken too” :D
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slookabill
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:06 pm

bravoindia wrote:
C767P wrote:
n7371f wrote:
Frontier vs Frontier Flight is common throughout the US. Why does it matter? I get the rigidity of ATC but everyone knows who Frontier is.


"Frontier Air" is Frontier Flying Service, "Frontier Flight" is Frontier Airlines. With F9 not serving Alaska this isn't too big of a deal, but "Frontier" is wrong for both of them just as "Spirit" isn't correct for NK.


As far as controller mentality they try to eliminate words and be as efficient as possible in most cases, so you are correct in the literal sense that “Frontier Flight” truly is Frontiers callsign, but it’s obviously a “flight” just like most controllers with a brain aren’t going to say “Air” for “Air Wisconsin” or “Air transport” it’ll just be Transport or Wisconsin. Some of the callsigns are just a bit redundant.


Air Wisconsin's official callsign is Wisconsin, but a lot of controllers still say Air Wisconsin, a lot gets back to going with what someone's been told, and never checking it, or it's changed and they've never been briefed or let it be ingrained on a new callsign(Executive airshare is a good example for most on that, they actually shortened it officially to just Airshare, but a lot never got briefed on it and still use the old full callsign)
 
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OA940
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:17 pm

I really don't think it matters that much tbh. I'm no ATC, but I think in the US they all know who Spirit, Frontier etc. are.
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mikejepp
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:22 pm

This is one of those things that is done every day out of laziness and nobody really cares until something happens, then they're going to really wish they had done things the way they were supposed to. You can't really tell the FAA "no one cares about that"....
 
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JBo
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:25 pm

Skyway Airlines' callsign was officially "Skyway Ex," but many pilots would contract it to "Skyex" (the ICAO code was SYX).
I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
 
C767P
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Re: Shortened call signs?

Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:46 pm

bravoindia wrote:
C767P wrote:
n7371f wrote:
Frontier vs Frontier Flight is common throughout the US. Why does it matter? I get the rigidity of ATC but everyone knows who Frontier is.


"Frontier Air" is Frontier Flying Service, "Frontier Flight" is Frontier Airlines. With F9 not serving Alaska this isn't too big of a deal, but "Frontier" is wrong for both of them just as "Spirit" isn't correct for NK.


As far as controller mentality they try to eliminate words and be as efficient as possible in most cases, so you are correct in the literal sense that “Frontier Flight” truly is Frontiers callsign, but it’s obviously a “flight” just like most controllers with a brain aren’t going to say “Air” for “Air Wisconsin” or “Air transport” it’ll just be Transport or Wisconsin. Some of the callsigns are just a bit redundant.


Air Wisconsin's callsign is Wisconsin. It isn't about eliminating words. I hear a good number of controllers use the correct callsign for Frontier.

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