boomer
Topic Author
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu May 27, 1999 2:59 am

Call Signs

Sat Oct 21, 2000 8:25 pm

I'm curious. How do airline radio call signs get assigned and who determines them? Many airlines use their name, while others use an alias. (Southwest uses their name, while America West uses 'Cactus')
 
AAR90
Posts: 3140
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2000 11:51 am

RE: Call Signs

Sun Oct 22, 2000 12:11 am

Normally the airline's name is its callsign unless it is too close in sound to one already in use that it will cause confusion (or has caused). Anything with "America" or "American" is no longer permitted in a new callsign because so many have tried in the past and so much confusion has been caused in the past. America West and American Trans Air are two airlines that have changed callsigns since I've been flying with American Airlines.

BTW, "Cactus" used to be the callsign of USN training squadron based in Texas. They voluntarily gave up the callsign so America West could use it on a more extensive basis. Nice job USN.  
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
avt007
Posts: 1989
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2000 4:51 am

RE: Call Signs

Sun Oct 22, 2000 2:25 am

When Canadian Regional was formed, a new call sign was required. I believe Transport Canada wanted one with 3 syllables or less. "Chinook" was suggested, but they wouldn't accept it because it was an aircraft type name as well. In the end it became "regional". Simple,eh?
 
boomer
Topic Author
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu May 27, 1999 2:59 am

RE: Call Signs

Sun Oct 22, 2000 7:51 am

Thanks for the answers. AAR90, you mentioned why callsigns could differ from the operator's name, but you did not mention if the FAA (or other regulatory agency as Avt007 hints at) decides on the callsign. Is this a negotiated thing where the FAA tells the operator to come up with a different callsign, and the new callsign is agreed to by the FAA? Another wonderful anonymous callsign is 'Shuttle', obviously pertaining to regional flights regardless of the operator. Would this not cause possible overlap of call signs if different operators assign similar flight numbers?
 
philb
Posts: 2645
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 5:53 am

RE: Call Signs

Sun Oct 22, 2000 8:20 am

Call sign allocation seems to vary country to country as does the use of "shorthand" or nicknames allowed or not.

For instance:

I recall some years ago an Arrow Air flight calling London whilst overhead Pole Hill in Central Northern England. He called as "Big A xxx", a nickname used by crews from time to time.

He was pulled up by the ATCO and asked to use Arrow Air as that was the recognised call.

Aer Lingus use Shamrock, but are also known as "The Green Company" and I have heard that used around Dublin a time or two.

To extend this further, reporting aircraft types can become a little less than formal.

In use in the UK during the 1980/90s when first contacting approach were:

Shoebox or Shed S330
Portakabin S360
Minibus A320
Pocket Rocket Bac1-11-400
Boeing Stick B757
Lump B747

It is interesting that some of these originated with crews and spread to the enthusiasts by means of listening to approach control, otherswent from enthusiasts to the crews.

The ATC authorities issued requests from time to time to standardise calls but ATCOs pick up on these as well and they become standard.



 
AAR90
Posts: 3140
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2000 11:51 am

RE: Call Signs

Sun Oct 22, 2000 12:22 pm

>Is this a negotiated thing where the FAA tells the operator to
>come up with a different callsign, and the new callsign is agreed
>to by the FAA?

To the best of my knowledge... yes, the FAA has to approve new callsigns. If there is confusion caused by a new callsign, the user with the earliest approved use of their callsign maintains their callsign and the newer user must change. America West is but one example where the "America West" callsign was easily (and regularly) confused with "American." Since AA has been using the "American" callsign since 1930s, America West was required to change. VT-26 tactical callsign was "Cactus" but they agreed to change to permit America West to utilize something related to the airline (home based in Arizona).

>Another wonderful anonymous callsign is 'Shuttle', obviously
>pertaining to regional flights regardless of the operator.
>Would this not cause possible overlap of call signs if different
>operators assign similar flight numbers?

I believe "shuttle" is used by America West commuter affiliate in Arizona/New Mexico and I have not heard it used elsewhere. FWIW, American Eagle carriers began using a single callsign ("Eagle Flight") a couple of years ago. Used to be a number of "Wings ****" on the west coast a few years ago as well. That too seems to have been resolved.

*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
L-188
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Call Signs

Sun Oct 22, 2000 5:08 pm

We just went through the process of getting a call sign this summer.

First you pick a name that you want. We had a company contest to do that.

Then file a reqest to get that name with the FAA.

After a couple of months the FAA will come back with a memo approving or disapproving the callsign. They wait that long so they can get a memo to all of the ATC facilities advising them that the callsign is now in use.

When you are approved for a call sign you get both the callsign and a three letter identifier for the radar screens.

For example our company went with Sockeye and the three letter sign is EYE.

OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
boomer
Topic Author
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu May 27, 1999 2:59 am

RE: Call Signs

Mon Oct 23, 2000 12:13 am

Great answers folks. Thanks for clearing it up!!
 
crjmech
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2000 6:31 am

RE: Call Signs

Mon Oct 23, 2000 4:08 am

AAR90 mentioned the callsign "shuttle" used by HP Express (Mesa). The actual callsign is "air shuttle".
Thou shalt mind thine altitude,lest the ground reach up and smite thee.
 
User avatar
fanoftristars
Posts: 1642
Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2000 9:03 am

RE: Call Signs

Mon Oct 23, 2000 4:37 am

How does Delta not get confused with the letter D-Delta?
"FLY DELTA JETS"
 
User avatar
wilcharl
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2000 11:19 am

RE: Call Signs

Mon Oct 23, 2000 3:50 pm

Around ATL (DL's castle of course) ive heard phonetic D replaced with Dixie by controllers and the like... Can any of the DL people confirm this is offical or just something some of the people do in ATL and not others

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