Extraneous flights reported with my call sign

Occasionally, a flight other than my own will be reported by FA as using my call sign. I’ve been trying to figure out why this happens, is it a common or unusual experience with other pilots? Usually, only a segment of the flight will appear in the track record.

Do you have an example?

Here is an example: N6NG Flight Tracking and History 08-May-2022 (KMIA-KPDK) - FlightAware

My airplane is a Long-EZ and it’s never been outside of CA this year, in this particular case it appears as a Pilatus PC-12 flying out of MIA. I can see that only the first segment of the flight appears as a solid green track, the rest of it is broken grey which may mean that the transponder was turned off after departure or the call sign was changed. Is there any way to determine what the call sign was for the remainder of the flight and arrival?

You are probably suffering from the curse of having a “short” N-number. A common error we see in the data we receive from the FAA is that we receive positions that are actually from, say, N126NG, but which the FAA data claims are from N6NG. I believe this is because it’s somewhat common to abbreviate the callsign when talking to ATC (i.e. N126NG identifying as just “six november golf”) and if that makes its way into the FAA’s systems without correction, we then think it’s you that’s flying.

edit: here is probably the real aircraft/flight for the case you posted above (tracked by our own ADS-B network rather than FAA data): N846NG Flight Tracking and History 08-May-2022 (KOPF-KPDK) - FlightAware


Thanks for the response. The info for the flight you provided matches the tracking info I received and it clears up the mystery.

A couple of questions:

  1. If there is complete ADS-B data why is FA using FAA data for some flight segments?
  2. When it happens again, would I be able to identify the actual flight info as you’ve done in this case and how do I go about it?

We fuse data from many different data sources to produce flights. In this case we had two sets of data:

  1. ADS-B data from our terrestrial network, giving positions for N846NG
  2. Positional data from the FAA (this is likely to be a combination of radar, ADS-B, etc - but we don’t have visibility into exactly what), giving positions for (allegedly) N6NG

Usually, when we have both FAA data and ADS-B data for the same aircraft, we’d prefer to use the ADS-B positions. But in this case the positions appeared to be for different aircraft, so we created two separate flights.

Identifying the real aircraft mostly involves some guesswork about what sort of error has been made. In this case I assumed that the FAA had the aircraft type correct but the tail number was an incomplete suffix of the full tail number. So I filtered the FAA registry data for PC-12s with a tail number ending 6NG which produced a dozen or so results, then I checked each by hand looking for a flight at about the right time / location.

(Filtering the FAA registry unfortunately involves some work. We’ve already done the work to import the registry data so it was just a simple database query for me; if you wanted to reproduce that you’d need to download the data from https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/releasable_aircraft_download/ and then do your own filtering)

Wow! The filtering process sounds like a lot of work and I thank you for the detective work, I think this solves a mystery that has been puzzling me for a while and the previous airplane owner for years. I had even contacted my local FSDO for help but that may no longer be needed.

Would it be possible for you guys to exclude my airplane from reports derived from FAA data? I’ll always be using ADS-B and I don’t expect radar data to contribute much more. Also, exclude if the airplane type doesn’t match mine, or perhaps some other form of filtering such as transponder Hex code which I can provide.

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