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xms3200
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Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:13 am

Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:27 am

Okay, I realize that in Europe with the European carriers, it is fairly common to have alpha numeric call signs for whatever reason that is quite different from the actual flight number. The other day while listening to the scanner frequency, I heard a United 204T that was on a domestic flight over Ohio. What is the deal with alpha numeric call signs being pretty different from the actual flight number. Thinking it adds more confusion to the mix.
 
MO11
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Re: Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:45 am

xms3200 wrote:
Okay, I realize that in Europe with the European carriers, it is fairly common to have alpha numeric call signs for whatever reason that is quite different from the actual flight number. The other day while listening to the scanner frequency, I heard a United 204T that was on a domestic flight over Ohio. What is the deal with alpha numeric call signs being pretty different from the actual flight number. Thinking it adds more confusion to the mix.


A radio callsign. Not sure why it would add any confusion, as long as it doesn't duplicate another callsign.
 
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T18
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Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:28 am

Re: Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:11 am

MO11 wrote:
xms3200 wrote:
Okay, I realize that in Europe with the European carriers, it is fairly common to have alpha numeric call signs for whatever reason that is quite different from the actual flight number. The other day while listening to the scanner frequency, I heard a United 204T that was on a domestic flight over Ohio. What is the deal with alpha numeric call signs being pretty different from the actual flight number. Thinking it adds more confusion to the mix.


A radio callsign. Not sure why it would add any confusion, as long as it doesn't duplicate another callsign.

And the letter was likely added due to a duplicate or very similar callsign, for example if it had been UAL 2044 and there was already a UAL 2045 planned thru the same airspace it may have been given 204Tango to avoid confusion.
“Racing's important to men who do it well. When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.” ― Steve McQueen (Le Mans) 1971
 
alasizon
Posts: 1942
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:57 pm

Re: Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:17 am

xms3200 wrote:
Okay, I realize that in Europe with the European carriers, it is fairly common to have alpha numeric call signs for whatever reason that is quite different from the actual flight number. The other day while listening to the scanner frequency, I heard a United 204T that was on a domestic flight over Ohio. What is the deal with alpha numeric call signs being pretty different from the actual flight number. Thinking it adds more confusion to the mix.



While not for the specific example, if you have a Southwest 2768 and a SkyWest 2768 in the same sector, it isn't uncommon for one to get an alternate callsign because of the possible confusion. For a while in 2018 in PHX, almost every single one of SkyWest's flights had a different ATC callsign to prevent confusion.
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T54A
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Re: Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:36 am

Due to increased congestion worldwide, is there not a proposal by ICAO (or possibly IATA) to change all callsigns to alpha numerical?
T6, Allouette 3, Oryx, King Air, B1900, B727, B744, A319, A342/3/6 A332/3
 
geologyrocks
Posts: 161
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:05 am

Re: Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:04 am

I've personally only changed a callsign once and I can't remember the reason but it wasn't because it wasn't similar sounding. I also can't remember seeing anyone else change a callsign due to it being similar. One of the airlines is usually asked to change the flight number if it becomes a routine occurrence. I think a lot of times why you have a letter added is because there are actually 100% duplicate flights either in the system or expected to be. So, if you had flight 130 that was originally Orlando to Atlanta and then reused later on that day for Atlanta to London...well, if the flight from Orlando is late but the one to London is running on time then you're not going to have two identical 130's in the system.

I'll add this...I don't know who comes up with the bright idea that out of 26 different options you choose to add "Delta" to the end of a callsign but that's another story. He's probably related to the same guy that decided that it would be a good idea to choose carpet for a subway (Before the subway in Atlanta got renovated, it had carpet...yeah you just can't make that up).
 
strfyr51
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Re: Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:12 am

while in the Military, we rarely flew airways in our Plane number Lie RD-07 or LM-05 (My 2 squadrons) RD was VP-47 while LM was VP-44. some of the call signs were YW451
or some other combination. The one I remember most was the call sign where President Carter actually went on a Tactical mission with us out of Moffett Field. Didn't know he was coming until an admiral climbed the Air Stair just before we were starting engines. The bigger trip? He actually K.new Tactics for Sub hunting so either he had been briefed or He was just plain sharp. And? He ate the same Box lunches we had with cold Fried Chicken and drank the same lousy coffee!! And he hung in the entire 10 Hours we were out. One of his aids thught we were going home after wuse gained contact on the sub but we prosecuted that contact for another 5 hours before VP-48 relieved us on station.
 
Passedv1
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Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:40 am

Re: Flights with alpha numeric call signs

Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:15 pm

There are several steps along the way where an airplane might get a letter added. Flight ops might add it if it conflicts with a company flight. ATC might add it if it conflicts with something in their sector (although this has never happened to me.) Or the Captain can change the call sign. Marketing chooses the call signs so these conflicts come up very frequently. How many airlines have a flight 500 flying to/from IND?Marketing also likes to categorize flights by number...all LA basin flights are 5xx for example. Anyway, all this to point out that these conflicts come up more frequently then you would expect from random assignment of flight numbers.

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