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Author Topic: UK Callsigns?  (Read 4583 times)
ect76
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EGPH


« on: May 05, 2008, 01:42:26 AM »

Hey. Relative newbie, so apologies if this is a completely stupid question.
US aircraft seem to use only their flight number as their callsign - Eg Continental 36.

In the UK, aircraft have different signs. Ones I frequently hear include Jersey 228F, Shuttle 8H, Flyer 46K, Midland 8EH...Well, anyway you get the point.

My question is how to these alphanumeric callsigns work? Are they simply assigned to a flight in place of its' flight number? Or an aircraft? I find it really hard to track these flights on flightstats.com when I hear them on the scanner as I don't know the flight number! If anyone could shed some light on it it'd be greatly appreciated as it's been bugging me for ages but I didn't want to ask in case it was too stupid a question!!


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petervee
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2008, 08:10:55 AM »

It is not only UK airlines that use tactical alphanumeric callsigns; many airlines use them such as Lufthansa, Austrian and others.
I asked a Lufthansa pilot about this just yesterday when I flew through FRA and he explained that this was done to avoid misunderstandings between ATC and pilots when similar flight numbers from different airlines fly in the same busy ATC sector. So to avoid having to deal with Lufthansa 4350 and Speedbird 4350 at the same sector at the same time, these special seemingly random callsigns have been implemented (mainly in areas where these is much traffic).
 
As you say, for listeners this makes it hard to follow such flights, but one can get a database update at www.acarsd.org that translates alpha callsigns to flight numbers.
Peter
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ect76
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EGPH


« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2008, 09:55:45 AM »

Ah, thanks for that! Seems to make a lot more sense now that I know it's to avoid similar callsigns. I'll definitely have a look at your link - Thanks for your reply!
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tyketto
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2008, 01:49:18 PM »

It is not only UK airlines that use tactical alphanumeric callsigns; many airlines use them such as Lufthansa, Austrian and others.
I asked a Lufthansa pilot about this just yesterday when I flew through FRA and he explained that this was done to avoid misunderstandings between ATC and pilots when similar flight numbers from different airlines fly in the same busy ATC sector. So to avoid having to deal with Lufthansa 4350 and Speedbird 4350 at the same sector at the same time, these special seemingly random callsigns have been implemented (mainly in areas where these is much traffic).
 
As you say, for listeners this makes it hard to follow such flights, but one can get a database update at www.acarsd.org that translates alpha callsigns to flight numbers.
Peter


this is very interesting, and absolutely different to how it is handled in the US. If there were similar callsigns under a given controller's control, ATC will advise them both of the similar callsign:

"United 732, be advised that a Frontier 732 is also on frequency."
"Frontier 732, be advised that a United 732 is also on frequency."

Then to further alleviate callsign confusion, ATC may repeat the company name after their callsign:

"United 732 United ...." "Frontier 732 Frontier ...."

Why change the callsign altogether, outside of if another flight with the same company callsign is in the air, is unusual.

BL.
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petervee
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 05:13:08 AM »

Well, you should keep in mind that language is a major issue for ATC. For example, in France most of ATC is in French, with the pilot leading the language choice.

So you can have an AirFrance "trois cent neuf" [309 - read as: three hundred nine] and a Speedbird three-zero-nine which could get confused specially with cockpit noise. Add the various accents and you can have a mess. On top of it, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and some countries in Eastern Europe as well as Russia operate in their languages with very little english knowledge and see how confusing it gets. See below for details:

In Canada, a French speaking quebec pilot may choose French, but numbers are read each number at a time with French use apporaching direct English translation (listen to the CYUL feed). This is why most French flights use English in Canada while Quebecers use French!!

In France. numbers are read as per usual French use (thousands are read as three thousands forty three in case of a flight number 3043). And most of it is in French. And their english accent is not the best; after all English is not their language.

In Italy, most of it is in Italian and the english accent is not exactly top of the line (this depends on the controller's knowledge).

In Spain it is the same. Portugal as well.

In Eastern Europe, they are slowlly switching to English (Lithuania, Latvia, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Estonia) but not in Byeloruse or Russia where altitudes are given in  meters and Russian is prevailing. Altitudes are read as "climb to altitude 7 thousands eight hundred" for example, in heavily Russian accented english. You can feel the change because as the flight approaches the border area, the plane either rises or descents to follow meter altitudes (in flight, whether it is meters or feet or fingers makes no difference since it expresses separation space but maybe Russia doesn't agree with this explanation).

Greece is mostly in English (good for holiday listening). In the Balkan states, since most of their flights are overflights, are all in English.

Morocco and Algeria flights are all in English even though their languages are French and Arabic, and use English even when they fly over France (don't know why).

All of Scandinavia is in English and so is Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Switzerland is in English too but take a listen to the Geneva feeds to see some exceptions for flights coming from France.

Hope this helps. Try and listen to the European feeds and you will see.

Take care,
P.

 
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Casper87
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2008, 02:49:03 PM »

Adding to the above.

The letters used in callsigns can also define "types" of flight (so to speak). E.g BAW23P.....the P on the end shows this as a positioning flight. "T" for training etc.

RE; the English language stuff above. ICAO have brought out an English Language proficiency requirement for all ICAO states.
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Casper87
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2008, 06:37:34 PM »

Also just for banters sake.....Thomas Cook and My Travel merged

Now use the TCX ICAO code and KESTREL callsign

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