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6 Answers

Aircraft Type Versus N Number

Asked by: 4281 views , , ,
Airspace, FAA Regulations, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

When calling ATC, what’s the rule for when to use your aircraft type (e.g., “Bugsmasher 1234 Alpha”) vs using your registration number (e.g., “November 1234 Alpha”)? AIM references appreciated.

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6 Answers



  1. Jim Foley on Apr 09, 2011

    I learned to contact with “tower, Cessna 1234, request …..”  That was at a small Class D that the controllers knew all of our callsigns.
    The best place to referance for your particular situation would be AIM 4-2-3 Contact Procedures and AIM 4-2-4 Aircraft Call Signs

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  2. Earl Kessler on Apr 09, 2011

    Hi Koehn,
    Make your first call up to ATC – “Bugmasher 2345C”.  After the first call you may abbreviate to the last 3 digits, such as “Bugmasher 45C”.  Its a good idea to mention your type so that others know what to look for and ATC knows your performance envelope.  For instance, there are a lot of Cessnas out there.  If you ID yourself as Skycatcher 1288C (instead of Cessna 188C) then they know the Cessna behind you (Citation 7654D) will need a much wider birth to keep you both properly separated.  I let ATC use the N number ID but I always call myself by type.  Make sure on each handoff to a new frequency you start with your entire call sign again.
    Also, if there are 2 similar call signs on the frequency (such as Skyhawk 2345D and Skylane 8645D), use your entire callsign of each call up to avoid confusion.
     

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  3. James MacGregor CFI on Apr 09, 2011

    I use my type and reg on initial contact, i.e.Stinson 1234, then after contact I just use my reg 1234, if ATC abbreivates it to 34 or Stinson 34 then I mimic that.
     
     It helps the ATC figure sequencing by knowing the type of aircraft you, If ATC sees a target heading in at just under 100kts and know it’s a Stinson they know shes going as fast as possible, where as if it were a Arrow they could ask the pilot to put a little steam on.

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  4. Matthew Waugh on Apr 10, 2011

    Jim has the flick – the AIM sections he cites will give you the full rundown.

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  5. Brian on Apr 10, 2011

    Form 7110.65 for air traffic controllers also addresses this topic.
     
    Section 2-4-20: Aircraft Identification (The link, for some reason, links to 2-4-19. Just scroll down a half a page for the applicable section.)
     
    (a) (1) – Civil. State the prefix “November” when establishing initial communications with U.S. registered aircraft followed by the ICAO phonetic pronunciation of the numbers/letters of the aircraft registration. The controller may state the aircraft type, the model, the manufacturer’s name, followed by the ICAO phonetic pronunciation of the numbers/letters of the aircraft registration if used by the pilot on the initial or subsequent call.
     

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  6. Kent Shook on Apr 10, 2011

    I never use “november” as a pilot (though if flying in a foreign country I’d be giving type *and* november), but controllers will sometimes say “november” when calling you if they don’t remember what your specific aircraft type is called – All they’re seeing is your 4-character type designator. So, if you’re flying an Arrow it should be in their system as “P28R” but they may call you “Cherokee” or “November” instead of “Arrow.” They probably all know what a C172 is, but when their screen has 10 airplanes and they’re H25B, LNC4, D1, B209, M7, PA24, M20T, B06, T34P, and F2TH, when you show up in your Duchess and they don’t remember what a BE76 is they may just end up calling you November.
     
    BTW, for the curious: Those designators – Hawker, Lancair IV, Wing Derringer, Messerschmidt-Bolkow-Blohm BO209, Maule MX7-235, Piper Comanche, Mooney M20K, Bell 206 JetRanger, Beech A45/Mentor, and Dassault Falcon 2000EX – All of which are based at my home field, along with plenty of military, airline and corporate traffic plus an active flight school. So I don’t mind when they call me “November.” LOL

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