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PA110
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ICAO Vs. IATA

Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:26 am

In November 1944, an International Civil Aviation Conference was held in Chicago, where 32 out of 54 countries signed a Convention on International Civil Aviation which set up the permanent International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a means to secure international co-operation an highest possible degree of uniformity in regulations and standards, procedures and organisation regarding civil aviation matters. (partially quoted from ICAO website)

IATA - The International Air Transport Association - was founded in Havana, Cuba, in April 1945. It is the prime vehicle for inter-airline cooperation in promoting safe, reliable, secure and economical air services - for the benefit of the world's consumers. (quoted from the IATA website)

It seems ICAO was created to set uniform standards, and IATA was formed to aid inter-airline cooperation. Why then do we have two sets of codes for airlines and airports? Why isn't there just a single protocol across the entire industry? I've been in the industry 20+ years and have always used IATA codes. I've never had any occaision to use ICAO codes. Who uses them (other then Flightsim nerds) and why the double standard?
Look, it's been swell, but the swelling's gone down.
 
aa757first
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ICAO Vs. IATA

Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:41 am

IATA is more for airlines and travel agents. The more "civil" system.

ICAO is more for pilots and dispatchers and the technical side of things.

AAndrew
 
FriendlySkies
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ICAO Vs. IATA

Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:42 am

Because bureaucracy makes everything more complicated.  Wink
 
aseem
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 11:42 am

Quoting Aa757first (Reply 1):
ICAO is more for pilots and dispatchers and the technical side of things.

AFAIK!! ICAO has some UN affiliation. Both are Montreal based though.
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Gemuser
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 12:24 pm

ICAO is a government agency (UN AND members) and is concerned with the regulation of International Civil Aviation in the PUBLIC intrest.

IATA is an airline trade association, a commerical body that has no formal goverment role. It concerned with inter airline affairs and airline external agency affairs, ON BEHALF of its members.

As to why the codes differ? I dont know, just one of those things, I guess. When I worked for the Oz aviation regulator in the 1970s we used our own codes internally (SYD=KSA) and ICAO when dealing internationally.

Gemuser
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Biggles
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 12:41 pm

The IATA organisation deals only with the commercial side of aviation,whereas ICAO deals with the technical side of aviation.

As for airport codes , how many combinations can you have with 3 letters ??
Airports without commercial service still need to to be identified.
 
stirling
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 12:59 pm

Quoting PA110 (Thread starter):
I've never had any occaision to use ICAO codes. Who uses them (other then Flightsim nerds?)

PRICELESS! (LMAO)
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to read something by someone wanting to show off their big brain....by using ICAO codes, which in the case of A.Net, is just plain rude!....CONSIDERING, the brilliant gentlemen who designed this site have included a built in de-coder, for use with IATA codes (of course, that is if the code is in the database).

Down with ICAO
Up with IATA

(It's ok to be a nerd, just not on my time!)

Good night.
Delete this User
 
Biggles
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 1:16 pm

In 25+ years in the industry ,I've always used ICAO codes. Only airline ground staff and aviation wannbe's use IATA codes.
 Wink
 
PHLapproach
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 1:22 pm

Quoting Biggles (Reply 7):
In 25+ years in the industry ,I've always used ICAO codes. Only airline ground staff and aviation wannbe's use IATA codes.

Agreed, I like Airline ICAO codes much more. And of course the fact that I'm gonna be a controller. Cant beat FFT or JBU  Smile
 
stirling
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 1:33 pm

Quoting Biggles (Reply 7):
In 25+ years in the industry ,I've always used ICAO codes. Only airline ground staff and aviation wannbe's use IATA codes.

That's fine, but the fact remains, why would one to speak in a language which the majority of your audience won't understand? I don't care for any type of exclusionism.

Because I (and many others here), have had a life-long fascination with Aviation, does not make me (or Us) a "Wannabe". For one, the job doesn't pay enough.
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flyingnanook
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 2:23 pm

Quoting Biggles (Reply 5):
As for airport codes , how many combinations can you have with 3 letters ??

26^3 or 17,576 (in practice, less than that because some codes aren't used)

If you use numbers as well, as many small airstrips have, then you get 36^3 or 46,656 (Then again, some of these are restricted as well) But, since I think that there has to be at least one letter, you will have 36^3-10^3 or 45,656.

Sorry, but my mathematical side had to come out.
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ha763
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 2:37 pm

For an explanation on airport codes see:

http://www.skygod.com/asstd/abc.html

Basically, IATA airport codes have been around longer originally being 2-letters and copying weather station id's. When air service greatly expanded in the 1930s, cities without weather stations needed identifies and the 3-letter system was created. IATA just continued to use this system.

ICAO airport codes on the other hand have specific meanings for each letter, execpt for US airports. The first letter is the area of the world the airport is located
The second letter is the country
The third is the area in the country
The fourth is the actual airport
 
FriendlySkies
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 2:42 pm

Quoting Ha763 (Reply 11):
ICAO airport codes on the other hand have specific meanings for each letter, execpt for US airports.

And so continues the mystery of the K...seriously, does anyone know why they chose K for the US?
 
cylw
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 2:47 pm

Canadian ICAO airport codes are the same as our IATA only with a C added to the front. YYC = CYYC


Of course the US adds a K to the front of their IATA to become ICAO (Hawaii and Alaska being exceptions)
 
Biggles
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 3:19 pm

Quoting FlyingNanook (Reply 10):
26^3 or 17,576 (in practice, less than that because some codes aren't used)

Sorry, but my mathematical side had to come out.

Wouldn't it be less since you could only use AAA, BBB ,CCC etc. only once ??
If you use 26^3 wouldn't those combinations come up 3 three times ??

(I'm at work , very bored ,trying to stay awake ,hence this pointless question ! )  biggrin 

I've always used ICAO since they are more logical to me , and there's less room for error.
 
flyingnanook
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:07 pm

Quoting Biggles (Reply 14):
Wouldn't it be less since you could only use AAA, BBB ,CCC etc. only once ??
If you use 26^3 wouldn't those combinations come up 3 three times

No, because if you think about it, you have 26 choices for the first letter, 26 for the second, and 26 for the third. So you get 26^3. I'm pretty sure I'm right, but combinatorics was never my forte.
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N1120A
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:23 pm

Quoting Biggles (Reply 14):
Wouldn't it be less since you could only use AAA, BBB ,CCC etc. only once ??
If you use 26^3 wouldn't those combinations come up 3 three times ??

(I'm at work , very bored ,trying to stay awake ,hence this pointless question ! )

I've always used ICAO since they are more logical to me , and there's less room for error.

Not every airport carries an ICAO code. Smaller airstrips only carry the code of their local aviation authority, and that is always 3 digits (not always letters)
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Biggles
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:40 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 16):
Not every airport carries an ICAO code. Smaller airstrips only carry the code of their local aviation authority, and that is always 3 digits (not always letters)

Very true. The USA has lots of them...and those codes are not listed as IATA codes.
 
3201
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:58 pm

Quoting Aa757first (Reply 1):
ICAO is more for pilots and dispatchers and the technical side of things.

Actually a fair number of pilots (some being non-technical as we all know!) don't fluently speak ICAO airport codes. I'll never forget a few years ago getting feedback from an airline pilot on an operational document that said "please include 3-letter airport code, precious time wasted trying to find identity of 4-letter airport code." (To this day we're not sure whether he succeeded in his quest.)

That said, I'll add that even though I knew (only) IATA codes for years in my pre-professional life as an enthusiast, nowadays I prefer ICAO codes since you at least know what country it's in if you don't know the code off the top of your head. On a.net I use IATA codes because it's one less keystroke and more people do indeed know what you mean -- the people who know the ICAO codes tend to all know the IATA codes, but not vice-versa.

Quoting Ha763 (Reply 11):
ICAO airport codes on the other hand have specific meanings for each letter, execpt for US airports. The first letter is the area of the world the airport is located
The second letter is the country
The third is the area in the country
The fourth is the actual airport

I don't think that whole classification scheme is standard. It's true in some countries, like the UK and Italy(?), but other countries seem to just use the last two letters for the airport with no further grouping/classification, and in Germany I think the third letter is the type of airport, not a geographical area. Some countries, such as India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, have multiple second letters while sharing their first letter with other countries in their region, and Australia joins the US as having a unique first letter and using multiple second letters.
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Goldenshield
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:20 pm

Not every airport in the US with an IATA code has the same ICAO code.

KCRQ = CLD -- Carlsbad, CA.

I'm sure there are others out there, but you get my point.
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aerorobnz
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:40 pm

ICAO codes make so much more sense. They are easy to identify by country/region/geographic region then airport. It is far more logical than the three letter codes and far easier to track down quickly by geographic location. You would probably also have less errors with baggage etc. Having been a Travel Agent, a Ticket consolidator and now a CSA I wish they would abolish the three letter IATA codes for the industry wide standard ICAO codes.
NZAA is a far better code than AKL, YSSY than SYD etc.
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bond007
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:27 pm

Quoting Biggles (Reply 17):
Quoting N1120A (Reply 16):
Not every airport carries an ICAO code. Smaller airstrips only carry the code of their local aviation authority, and that is always 3 digits (not always letters)



Quote:

Very true. The USA has lots of them...and those codes are not listed as IATA codes.

Well, not always 3 digits in the US. In fact if it's often 4 with sometimes the 2 letter state abbreviation. for example 23FL. There are too many airfields in the US alone for ALL of them to have 3 letter codes.



Jimbo

[Edited 2005-04-30 14:28:37]
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LAXintl
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sun May 01, 2005 5:10 am

Like people have mentioned ICAO is indeed a agency of the UN. ICAO is primarily concerned with the with development of standards and practices for safety, navigation, security in aviation. ICAO also was the sponsor of famous aviation agreements including the Warsaw and Chicago Conventions.

IATA on the other hand is an airline trade organization. Both small and large airlines from across the world are members.

Interestingly both organizations are based in Montreal.

Each organization has developed its own coding system. IATA using 2 letter airline codes, 3 letter airport codes and 3 digit airline ticketing codes.
While ICAO using 3 letter airlines and 4 letter airport codes

Due to the lack of available combinations, IATA has been forced into the usage letter/numeric combinations to avoid duplication. ie Jetblue = B6

There was talk in IATA (especially in the 90s) of switching away from the IATA system and adopting the ICAO coding system. The organization realized its own system had become too limited. Based on massive costing estimates to its members an official switch was not adopted, however airlines and airports are free to use the ICAO coding system on a voluntary basis. This can be seen by some airports and airlines for instance that use the ICAO 3 letter airline codes on flight info screens, timetables versus the IATA 2 letter coding.

An eventual switch to the ICAO system is likely sooner or later as the IATA system cannot handle additional airports nor airlines without duplication.

The ICAO system in my opinion is preferable as its both simpler and logical. Airport codes are easy to comprehend once one understands ICAOs geographic coding system. Also airline codes can be much more logical then the restricted recent IATA method of having to assigning letter/number combinations. ie - Jetblue = JBU
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bond007
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Sun May 01, 2005 7:19 am

Quoting Laxintl (Reply 22):
The ICAO system in my opinion is preferable as its both simpler and logical. Airport codes are easy to comprehend once one understands ICAOs geographic coding system. Also airline codes can be much more logical then the restricted recent IATA method of having to assigning letter/number combinations. ie - Jetblue = JBU

Yes, I agree, PLUS both systems must be used in the majority of cases anyway (i.e. flight plans, ATC, dispatch systems, etc. all use ICAO), so why not standardize by using the one that does make more sense.

..and as you mentioned, the 2 character airline, and 3 character airport codes simply do not allow enough combinations...so there really is little option in my opinion.

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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RobK
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Mon May 02, 2005 6:48 am

Yes, the ICAO codes for me too. Talking of JetBlue I thought that their IATA code would be JB but I was pretty amazed to see that it's B6 - how ridiculous is that ?!!! Doesn't even bare any significance whatsoever.

For those nayers that are stuck in the past with the IATA codes and who moan about those of us who say things like CSH876 KBFI-PHNL-PKMJ etc, there are plenty of online sources to tie them up and they really aren't that difficult to work out.

Cheers,

Rob K  Wink

[reporting live from near EGNM ]
 
N1120A
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Mon May 02, 2005 7:07 am

Quoting RobK (Reply 24):
Talking of JetBlue I thought that their IATA code would be JB but I was pretty amazed to see that it's B6 - how ridiculous is that ?!!!

That is because Helijet Airways of Canada had JB first.
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JGPH1A
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Mon May 02, 2005 3:53 pm

Quoting Biggles (Reply 7):
Only airline ground staff and aviation wannbe's use IATA codes.

Shouldn't that read "The entire airline universe is 100% familiar with IATA 3-letter codes except cockpit crews and flight-sim wannabes" ?  Smile

Quoting Aerorobnz (Reply 20):
wish they would abolish the three letter IATA codes for the industry wide standard ICAO codes.



Quoting Laxintl (Reply 22):
There was talk in IATA (especially in the 90s) of switching away from the IATA system and adopting the ICAO coding system. The organization realized its own system had become too limited. Based on massive costing estimates to its members an official switch was not adopted, however airlines and airports are free to use the ICAO coding system on a voluntary basis. This can be seen by some airports and airlines for instance that use the ICAO 3 letter airline codes on flight info screens, timetables versus the IATA 2 letter coding.

NEEEVER gonna happen. If IATA changes, it will be to 5-character city codes, as used by rail and ferry operators - the first 2 characters are the ISO country code, followed by a 3-character station/port code. This will greatly facilitate intermodal transportation. ICAO codes are good for aviation only, what with GDS's etc offering more and more ground content (ferries, trains, hotels, tours etc) it will be easier to standardise around 5-character codes than ICAO.

Re 3-character airline codes. Most industry standard messaging and systems already support 3 character airline codes.
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bond007
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Mon May 02, 2005 10:49 pm

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 26):
Shouldn't that read "The entire airline universe is 100% familiar with IATA 3-letter codes except cockpit crews and flight-sim wannabes" ?

Well, I have an office full of people, most who have been in the airline/aviation industry for 10-15 years, and most here could not tell you many IATA codes at all! we all work with ICAO.

Your "entire airline universe" means generally any person/department that deals with the public. Aviation includes a whole lot more than the airlines, and the 3 character IATA code simply doesn't work for non-airline use, especially in the USA, so we end up with two 'standards'.

Hey, nothing is gonna change in the near future. Things like this take generations to implement!

Jimbo
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cornish
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RE: Icao Vs. Iata

Tue May 03, 2005 7:08 pm

Quoting Laxintl (Reply 22):
Interestingly both organizations are based in Montreal.

Well yes IATA does have a large base in Montreal, but the real head office is in Geneva - always has been. Montreal's importance increased significantly when the last IATA director general, a French Canadian, increased its profile, but the current DG has been reversing this considerably

Geneva is where the DG spends the bulk of his time, and is also where all of the most important senior directors are based.

The montreal office is also across the road from the ICAO offices.
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