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UnitedIsBae
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M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:33 pm

I was on FlightRadar24 and saw a BA 744 with a "M" after the regular flight number. Anyone know why they have two flight numbers? I have also seen others. Can someone also please tell me what the letters after the flight number mean? ( Flight is BA285/BA11M BTW )
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arcticcruiser
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:38 pm

I assume BA285 is the flight number per schedule and distribution systems. BA11M (or more accurately BAW11M is the callsign.
 
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UnitedIsBae
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:42 pm

arcticcruiser wrote:
I assume BA285 is the flight number per schedule and distribution systems. BA11M (or more accurately BAW11M is the callsign.

Thanks. That makes a lot of sense.
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BWIAirport
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:46 pm

I've seen this rather frequently especially on BA flights, for example BWI-LHR is BA228 but the callsign is almost always BAW22C. It usually has to do with making the callsign over ATC more distinguishable.
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SpaceshipDC10
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:56 pm

UnitedIsBae wrote:
I was on FlightRadar24 and saw a BA 744 with a "M" after the regular flight number. Anyone know why they have two flight numbers? I have also seen others. Can someone also please tell me what the letters after the flight number mean? ( Flight is BA285/BA11M BTW )


If I remember well it's something specific to flights by European airlines, perhaps a way to distinguish them on the screen when there are many flights. LH474 MUC-YUL always displays DLH2C. KLM597 AMS-CPT displays KLM103 since a couple of years. As I've often seen it flying very close to KLM591 to JNB, I guessed it was for the same reason, to help ATC.
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UnitedIsBae
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:57 pm

SpaceshipDC10 wrote:
UnitedIsBae wrote:
I was on FlightRadar24 and saw a BA 744 with a "M" after the regular flight number. Anyone know why they have two flight numbers? I have also seen others. Can someone also please tell me what the letters after the flight number mean? ( Flight is BA285/BA11M BTW )


If I remember well it's something specific to flights by European airlines, perhaps a way to distinguish them on the screen when there are many flights. LH474 MUC-YUL always displays DLH2C. KLM597 AMS-CPT displays KLM103 since a couple of years. As I've often seen it flying very close to KLM591 to JNB, I guessed it was for the same reason, to help ATC.

Thanks. Wonder why its a european thing.
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Deltabravo1123
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:05 pm

They also often use this practice when there's a delayed or cancelled flight. For instance, if BA218 From DEN-LHR was delayed or cancelled the previous day, they could now potentially have two BA218 on the same day. One of the flights would take a different callsign such as BA21C or something as such.
 
ilovelamp
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:09 pm

This isn’t exclusive to any particular part of the world. In the US it’s usually because of a delayed flight with a connecting or return flight of the same flight number. The FAA won’t allow more than one flight plan filed with the same callsign so one ends up being modified.


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atcsundevil
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Re: M in flight number

Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:05 pm

SpaceshipDC10 wrote:
UnitedIsBae wrote:
I was on FlightRadar24 and saw a BA 744 with a "M" after the regular flight number. Anyone know why they have two flight numbers? I have also seen others. Can someone also please tell me what the letters after the flight number mean? ( Flight is BA285/BA11M BTW )


If I remember well it's something specific to flights by European airlines, perhaps a way to distinguish them on the screen when there are many flights. LH474 MUC-YUL always displays DLH2C. KLM597 AMS-CPT displays KLM103 since a couple of years. As I've often seen it flying very close to KLM591 to JNB, I guessed it was for the same reason, to help ATC.

It's definitely not just a European thing. US carriers (mainline and regional) do it relatively often too, albeit with less frequency. It seems to happen more when there's weather or delays of some kind; either they're running extra flights or the original flight is delayed. I'm sure there's an issue with having two of the same flight numbers in their system, but certainly from an ATC perspective, it's an issue. There can't be two active flight plans with the same call sign.
 
Adispatcher
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Re: M in flight number

Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:42 am

ilovelamp wrote:
This isn’t exclusive to any particular part of the world. In the US it’s usually because of a delayed flight with a connecting or return flight of the same flight number. The FAA won’t allow more than one flight plan filed with the same callsign so one ends up being modified.


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I think it is more of an active flight and not necessarily a flight plan issue. Short out and backs with the same flight number will have two flight plans with the same callsign filed at the same time. That's how we do it, anyway.
 
JAGflyer
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Re: M in flight number

Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:56 am

atcsundevil wrote:
It's definitely not just a European thing. US carriers (mainline and regional) do it relatively often too, albeit with less frequency. It seems to happen more when there's weather or delays of some kind; either they're running extra flights or the original flight is delayed. I'm sure there's an issue with having two of the same flight numbers in their system, but certainly from an ATC perspective, it's an issue. There can't be two active flight plans with the same call sign.


European flights often have different ATC callsigns compared to their flight numbers just because the amount of traffic over there means a high potential for similar/duplicate flight numbers (ie. British Airways #203, Lufthansa #203, Ryanair #203, and Easyjet #203) within one region. A different alphanumeric callsign will usually be used for all ATC communication. While not all flights in Europe require it, it seems especially common for flights departing very busy sectors/airports like London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, etc. All commercial (passenger-facing) information such as tickets, FIDs screens, and boarding passes will say "BA203" but the flight plan and ATC filing will be under 'BAW3KV'.

In North America the use an alphanumeric callsigns is done to get around issues with one airline having the same flight numbers for two flights on the same route at one time. A good example (as mentioned above) would be a flight that delayed for many hours and the next day's flight being airborne as well. For example, AA123 from JFK-AMS goes mechanical. It doesn't depart until 8 hours later. As the next day's AA123 will be in the air before the previous day's flight has landed, the delayed flight may be filed as "AA123D" or something else to differentiate it. AFAIK, alphanumeric callsigns are not used in the same way they are in Europe (where it is standard practice).
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atcsundevil
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Re: M in flight number

Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:39 am

JAGflyer wrote:
atcsundevil wrote:
It's definitely not just a European thing. US carriers (mainline and regional) do it relatively often too, albeit with less frequency. It seems to happen more when there's weather or delays of some kind; either they're running extra flights or the original flight is delayed. I'm sure there's an issue with having two of the same flight numbers in their system, but certainly from an ATC perspective, it's an issue. There can't be two active flight plans with the same call sign.


European flights often have different ATC callsigns compared to their flight numbers just because the amount of traffic over there means a high potential for similar/duplicate flight numbers (ie. British Airways #203, Lufthansa #203, Ryanair #203, and Easyjet #203) within one region. A different alphanumeric callsign will usually be used for all ATC communication. While not all flights in Europe require it, it seems especially common for flights departing very busy sectors/airports like London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, etc. All commercial (passenger-facing) information such as tickets, FIDs screens, and boarding passes will say "BA203" but the flight plan and ATC filing will be under 'BAW3KV'.

In North America the use an alphanumeric callsigns is done to get around issues with one airline having the same flight numbers for two flights on the same route at one time. A good example (as mentioned above) would be a flight that delayed for many hours and the next day's flight being airborne as well. For example, AA123 from JFK-AMS goes mechanical. It doesn't depart until 8 hours later. As the next day's AA123 will be in the air before the previous day's flight has landed, the delayed flight may be filed as "AA123D" or something else to differentiate it. AFAIK, alphanumeric callsigns are not used in the same way they are in Europe (where it is standard practice).

I wasn't implying it was used in the US for the same reasons as Europe — I don't know how/why it's done from an airline perspective in general, or how/why it's done in Europe. My point was that air carrier use of letters and numbers in call signs is fairly common practice for US airlines, because I see it often. From an ATC perspective, multiple stored flight plans can exist for the same call sign, but only one can be active. As far as I know, that's the only reason an airline in the US would add a letter to the call sign, so it would only generally happen during IRROPS.

If European carriers do it to prevent similar sounding call signs for ATC, that must get really annoying. Maybe they get used to it, but when things are busy, the last thing a controller needs is a cumbersome call sign. It's easier to say, "United three seventy-one United" (or better yet, just make sure you get the correct read back!) than trying to say "Speedbird three two Kilo Victor". Besides, if that really is their rationale, it shouldn't be necessary for much longer if Europe is moving towards data comm, which I assume they are. Even the US will have data comm implemented by the end of this year, so if Europe isn't there yet, they shouldn't be far behind. LiveATC fans are gonna start getting pretty bored in the not-too-distant future!
 
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Re: M in flight number

Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:45 am

atcsundevil wrote:
It's definitely not just a European thing.


What is specific to Europe is the way it is used as explained since by another member. It can be like LH474/DLH2C but also like LX23 becoming LX23C on screen.
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