mastermis
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Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:56 pm

Hi everyone,

Apologies if this has been asked before, but my search results did not get me this information.

I just booked some flights and wondered why all the Canadian airports start with Y such as YYZ, YUL, etc. Most airport codes attempt to be like the city name or airport name. MIA, LAS, JFK & CDG come to mind.

Any ideas?

M.
 
Boston92
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:21 pm

It is just how the IATA has the canadian codes. The only US airport that I could find that begins with Y is Yuma (YUM).
 
ZBBYLW
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:24 pm

I think back in the day it was to signify whether a aerodrome had a weather facility or not... Y meaning yes... So for instance CAT4 does not, CZBB does not but CYXX and CYVR do... thats what I've been told anyhow.
Keep the shinny side up!
 
masseybrown
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:25 pm

What used to be Detroit's main airport Willow Run is YIP for Ypsilanti, MI.
 
808TWA
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:35 pm

From what I can remember, Canada uses two-letter identifiers for weather reporting stations. Those two-letter identifiers were then pre-fixed with a "Y" or "W". Those with a "Y" means that they are co-located with an airport.

This was described in the flight training book "From The Ground Up" - which I don't have access to at work for a more detailed explanation.
Love is in the air, so practice safe flying
 
robsawatsky
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:59 pm

Here is some info I borrowed from the AVCANADA discussion forum:

Essentially, the answer is that the starting "Y" or "Z" used to mean something, it can't be interpreted to mean anything now.

Also, IATA codes are the 3-letter codes generally starting with "Y" (why "Y", because that's what Canada grabbed at one of the conventions way back when).

The ICAO codes add a "C" to the 3-letter IATA code. Note, that officially, Canada uses ICAO codes.

"OK. Here's the real answer.

In the olden days, even before aviation was all the rage, Hedley was in grade 3 for the third time and satellites weren't even thought of ,weather reporting stations were scattered throughout Canada at strategic locations. Each station was given a two letter identifier. You may still see the two letter designation on some maps.

Some stations like one manned in Winnipeg were given relatively straight forward identifiers like WG.

Others, like the one in the middle of a field east of Toronto was left with YZ since TO was already taken and didn't really describe the geographic location anyway.

Later on as aerodromes became popular, the equivalent to Environment Canada of the day decided to co-locate some of the stations with airports. In some cases airports were built at existing weather reporting sites.

The lists with the codes for the reporting stations were amended to indicate if the station was co-located with an airport "Y" or not "N".

So WG became YWG. They didn't really bother using the "N" in day to day communications.

The C was added to meet international navigation standards and now the full Cxxx format is used to identify the airport. Most navigation databases define the position of Cxxx as the middle of the longest runway on the airport.

Of course later on lots of airports were added that had no co-located weather reporting stations. They weren't really bound to the format so we started seeing places like CZTM etc.

Now that Environment Canada has revamped (screwed up) weather reporting in Canada, nobody is bound to the old standard.

With respect to nav aids associated to a particular airport, many adopted the airport identifier as the radio station identifier listed on the tranmsitter licence for the primary nav aid. Other navaids were often derived from the primary nav aid identification. This isn't a standard so its not used exclusively.

For example, CYWG has a YWG VOR and a WG, and a Y and a W and a G NDB. But it also has an N beacon. Dunno where that came from!

At this point in time, the airport identifier has nothing to do with the co-location of weather reporting stations, ILS capabilities or anything else but history."
 
skymiler
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 7:03 pm

I have also heard that they were modelled from the Canadian National Railways telegraph codes for the stations, by prefixing 'Y' to a code for that city (some cities had multiple codes). These were 2 letter codes, and bears some credence when considered from the railway management's perspective, as in the past, Canadian National and Trans Canada airlines were the same company.
Whether this is true or not, I am not sure ... it could explain "YYZ" for Toronto, as Toronto Union Station was part of a railway jointly owned by CN and CP and was at the very western end of the main line (and thus the subdivision) from Montreal to Toronto. Hence the neutral last letters of the alphabet appended to 'Y', sometime in the late 20's or 30's.
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Caspian27
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:10 pm



Quoting Boston92 (Reply 1):
The only US airport that I could find that begins with Y is Yuma (YUM).

Actually Yuma has just recently changed to NYL.
Meanwhile, somewhere 35,000 ft above your head...
 
connies4ever
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:39 pm



Quoting ZBBYLW (Reply 3):
I think back in the day it was to signify whether a aerodrome had a weather facility or not... Y meaning yes... So for instance CAT4 does not, CZBB does not but CYXX and CYVR do... thats what I've been told anyhow.

From my father (ex AC mx) that's my understanding as well. It's historical and there would be mass confusion if it was changed now.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:04 am



Quoting Boston92 (Reply 1):
The only US airport that I could find that begins with Y is Yuma (YUM).



Quoting MasseyBrown (Reply 2):
What used to be Detroit's main airport Willow Run is YIP for Ypsilanti, MI.

YKM - Yakima, Washington
YKN - Yankton, South Dakota
YNG - Youngstown, Ohio
 
corey07850
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:17 pm



Quoting Boston92 (Reply 1):
The only US airport that I could find that begins with Y is Yuma (YUM).

I count 28 airports in the US that start with "Y"
 
Boston92
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:35 pm



Quoting Corey07850 (Reply 10):
I count 28 airports in the US that start with "Y"

Please, list them. The most I have found are three, and they are all listed in reply 9.
 
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tjcab
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:44 pm

it appears that they just abbreviate the 4-letter iaco code. i.e. CYYZ (Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport). US iaco code start with K or P for the pacific regions. Perhaps they just wanted to simplify things?
 
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Revelation
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:51 pm



Quoting Mastermis (Thread starter):
Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

"Y" not?  Smile
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
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northstardc4m
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Thu Jun 26, 2008 9:22 pm



Quoting Skymiler (Reply 6):
I have also heard that they were modelled from the Canadian National Railways telegraph codes for the stations, by prefixing 'Y' to a code for that city (some cities had multiple codes). These were 2 letter codes, and bears some credence when considered from the railway management's perspective, as in the past, Canadian National and Trans Canada airlines were the same company.
Whether this is true or not, I am not sure ... it could explain "YYZ" for Toronto, as Toronto Union Station was part of a railway jointly owned by CN and CP and was at the very western end of the main line (and thus the subdivision) from Montreal to Toronto. Hence the neutral last letters of the alphabet appended to 'Y', sometime in the late 20's or 30's.

Sorry but don't think it's true. For the railroads, YYZ would be Malton or Etobicoke, Toronto's city code is YTO which makes much more sense anyways, and TO was the code for the old Leaside airport which vanished in 1931/32, before the new systems were placed into effect. The other Toronto airports are: YTZ-Island, YZD-Downsview and CYKZ-Buttonville they all carry a Z in their idents but otherwise share nothing... My feeling is the Z is coincidence.

Also Union Station was never the western end of the mainline, by the time it was originally built lines were already built in South-Western Ontario, and the CPR was built to the Pacific, the GTP was well underway. The CPR terminus for Toronto was further north as well. Union Station carries the current code TWO, but it has nothing to do with any form of airport code AFAIK.

There are quite a few double Y airports: YYB= North Bay YYC= Calgary, YYG= Charlottetown, YYJ=Victoria, YYR= Goose Bay, YYT=St Johns for example, and the winner of them all: YYY= Mont Joli (some people say it what you ask yourself when you get there...), so i don't think there was any strange motive for lettering Malton/Pearson as YYZ, just available most likely, it was a fairly recent airport compared to some in Canada.
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COSPN
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:23 am

Im Just Glad they dint take YAP = Yap Island FSM Micronesia

would be sad if YAP had to use another airport code
 
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hawaiian717
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Sat Jun 28, 2008 5:00 pm



Quoting Caspian27 (Reply 7):
Actually Yuma has just recently changed to NYL.

NYL is the FAA identifier, KNYL is the ICAO identifier, but the IATA identifier is still YUM.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Sat Jun 28, 2008 7:23 pm



Quoting TJCAB (Reply 12):
it appears that they just abbreviate the 4-letter iaco code. i.e. CYYZ (Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport).

If not mistaken the IATA code came first and the ICAO code was created by adding C to the IATA code.
 
MissedApproach
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Sun Jun 29, 2008 3:22 pm



Quoting NorthStarDC4M (Reply 14):
For the railroads, YYZ would be Malton or Etobicoke, Toronto's city code is YTO

Actually, from 1939-1960 it was known as Malton Airport. It was then renamed Toronto International Airport. It wasn't known as Lester B. Pearson International Airport until 1984. As Malton Airport, it was part of the BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan), & was also home to Avro Canada & the Avro Arrow. Over the course of it's development, the airport swallowed the town of Elmbank.
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SlamClick
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Sun Jun 29, 2008 4:05 pm

It has always had me scratching my head. Using three-letter identifiers only, the US has alphabetic potential to identfy 17576 airports. (46656 if alpha-numeric) Assuming that all must start with "Y" Canada can only identify 676. Perhaps Canada will never need more than that, the rest being lakes.

US "Y" I can think of
YAK
YIP
YKM
YKN
YNG
YUM
...are there more?
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bond007
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:50 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 19):
Assuming that all must start with "Y" Canada can only identify 676.

They also have 'X' and 'Z' though, right?

In theory 3 x 676.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
 
Viscount724
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:06 am



Quoting Bond007 (Reply 20):
Quoting SlamClick (Reply 19):
Assuming that all must start with "Y" Canada can only identify 676.

They also have 'X' and 'Z' though, right?

In theory 3 x 676.

A few start with C, including Vancouver Harbour (seaplanes/helicopters) which is CXH.
 
BE77
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:48 pm

Actually, almost all the airports in Canada DON"T use the Y terminology. Only the fancy pants, highbrow ones like the airliners use, and wannabes*. The rest generally use a 4 letter code, like some of my favorites CAK3, CPX3, CEK4, CSK6 and so on.

* AFAIK, it's all about the weather stations as reported above, so most of the major city airports are Y's, and lots of smaller locations get Y'd since the weather station is/was required, even if remote.

A fairly recent addition to the Y list was YOA, which only cam into being with the development of the Ekati Diamond Mine in NWT. The nearby, but slight younger CDK2 does not have the weather station, hence no Y. Same for CSK6.

edit...Cap C on Canada - bad form the day after Canada Day

[Edited 2008-07-02 13:54:40]
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bond007
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RE: Why Are Canadian Airports All "Y"?

Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:57 pm



Quoting BE77 (Reply 22):
Actually, almost all the airports in canada DON"T use the Y terminology.

Right, I guess we need to say that there are generally 3 types of airport codes: ICAO 4-char, IATA 3-char, and a local country assigned code, if there is no reason for either ICAO/IATA ... generally the smaller, non-international fields.

The same is true for the USA. There are also many (or most) airfields with a 4 character FAA code, for example MO20 (not a Mooney), and 20FL, which do not have a corresponding ICAO/IATA code.

I assume the reason behind the free format country's own code, is that they'd never be enough ICAO or IATA codes to go around.


Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

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