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ATC Callsigns

Ian Niblo

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Hi all,


As a pilot I've noticed that some ATC callsigns are 3-character (eg ADR_CTR, JAX_35_APP) while others are 4-character (eg ESOS_1_CTR, HECC_CTR).


Instinct tells me that one could be an IATA code and the other could be an ICAO code but that falls apart for callsigns like LON_CTR because London has no IATA or ICAO codes.


Can anyone tell me where the controllers are getting these callsigns? I wrote a little program to list the current VATSIM ATC positions and it'd be great to be able to add their locations to the list (eg LON_CTR: London). If I knew where they were getting their callsigns I might be able to look them up myself.


Many thanks!



Full size 737 cockpit - https://www.facebook.com/SimAirUK

Windows 7 64 bit, Prepar3d v4, vPilot , FSUIPC v5

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It's really all from local procedures. There only "public" data I could think of that ties a callsign to a location would be VATSpy's database, however using that in your application may be problematic. There's no public list of callsigns and locations to my knowledge.

Josh Glottmann
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Oakland ARTCC
[email protected]

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The accomeap project seems to map sectors pretty accurately, and I remember when I was Operations Director for VATSIM UK they approached me to ask where they could get all our sector/callsign data.


In terms of naming conventions for this side of the pond... you’ll see a lot of position callsigns based on the (ICAO) FIR such as EHAA/LECB/EDWW/EISN, whilst ESOS refers to the Stockholm ACC positions within the ESAA FIR. In the UK, we switched from EGTT/EGPX to LON/SCO respectively so as to enable longer callsigns for bandboxes (LON_SC_CTR can connect but EGTT_SC_CTR can’t) and relief (e.g. LON_C__CTR to replace the outgoing LON_C_CTR).


No nonsense controlling Twitch - HazControl ✈️


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Like others have said, it depends a lot on local procedures. In the US, for the most part, all cab positions start with the ICAO code but dropping the first K. (Ex. Kennedy Tower at KJFK becomes JFK_TWR)


The exceptions are en-route positions where the ARTCC abbreviations are used (NY for New York Center, CLE for Cleveland, etc.) and TRACON facilities separate from the an ATCT facility. New York TRACON is a separate facility from the control towers at JFK, LGA, and EWR and uses the NY callsign. SoCal, NorCal, and Potomac are similar.

New York ARTCC

Instructor // ZNY/ZWY Facility Coordinator

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For the European Division, you can find all login and voice callsigns including their frequencies here: http://api.vateud.net/frequencies


Speaking about ADR_CTR, this is a fictional callsign, as we are building a vACC that is covering multiple FIRs & countries in the ADRiatic region and so we have no ICAO-code to use for our bandboxed station. Additionally, ADR is already the ICAO for Adria Airways with callsign "Adria" and that matched our voice callsign "Adria Radar". Coverage is provided for LJLA, LDZO, LQSB, LYBA, LWSS, LAAA and Kosovo (just in case you want to visit us )

| Enroute Controller |


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