Introduction of alpha-numeric call signs

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) acknowledges the recent introduction of alpha-numeric air traffic control (ATC) call signs by Emirates Airline.

Emirates Airline A380 aircraft

This initiative aims to reduce call sign confusion events where similar sounding or near identical flight numbers have been used to communicate with air traffic controllers within the same airspace or at the same airport.

A scheduled passenger flight’s call sign commonly comprises of the airline’s name or moniker as a prefix followed by the flight number. In Emirates’ case, an example of their previous call sign is ‘Emirates 406’ – the airline’s regular Dubai to Melbourne service. However, with the introduction of the alpha-numeric format, this call sign has now become ‘Emirates 1CR’ (pronounced as “Emirates One Charlie Romeo”).

ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said Emirates’ first flights in Australian airspace using the alpha-numeric call sign format occurred on 25 March.

“The ATSB is supportive of those initiatives designed to improve transport safety and we congratulate Emirates on their introduction of alpha-numeric call signs in Australia for selected flights,” said Mr Hood. “We continue to encourage all airlines and aircraft operators to use call sign de-confliction strategies to help prevent call sign confusion incidents from occurring.”

Alpha-numeric call signs are now being used more broadly by a number of other airlines operating in congested European and Middle East flight information regions.

Last update 02 May 2018