FlightAware Discussions

Type inconsistence among E75L aircrafts in PiAware

There are lots of Embraer EMB-175 in the air, e.g., from SkyWest. On my ADSBx feeder map, they are all displayed as type E75L. But on PiAware SkyAware maps, they are either displayed as type E170, such as SKW5998 (A06F5A) or no type code at all, such as SKW5448 (A82AA8). Meanwhile, on linked FlightAware flight site and linked Airframe.org site, they are all displayed as type E75L.

Is this just a case of PiAware database out of date? (I understand that ADSBx feeder map is operated on server side.) Where does type code E170 come from?

The static piaware database derives aircraft type from FAA registration data for US-registered aircraft, i.e. data similar to this:

This registration data is very, very, not normalized, so there’s a lot of ad-hoc pattern matching that goes on to try to work out the aircraft type from the reg data. It doesn’t always get it right. I created a ticket to fix this particular case.

This makes me realize that the correct question to ask is: Where does type code E75L come from? I followed all the way to https://registry.faa.gov/AircraftInquiry/Search/NNumberResult?nNumberTxt=127SY. The page only lists Model as ERJ 170-200 LR - which kind of explains E170, but there is absolutely no mentioning of code E75L.

Yet code E75L is so prevalent, not only does it appear on airframes.org and ADSBx, but also on FA’s live flight pages, e.g.,


Note in the red circle, code “E75L” is linked to https://flightaware.com/live/aircrafttype/E75L.

It is the ICAO aircraft type designator. See https://www.icao.int/publications/doc8643/pages/search.aspx

If ICAO already has a standardized designation, that should be preferable to ad hoc code extracted from aircraft’s model number. On the practical side, as the server-side live flight page is already automatically applying the ICAO type, the same automation could be used in PiAware DB maintenance and not add any cost.

While we are onto type, I also want to ask about icon on SkyAware map. I used to think that the icon is selected based on type code. But then, I notice that some military helicopters are displayed with winged icons. I thought that was because type code was absent.

Then today, I notice this N220PD that also does not have type code, yet is displayed with a helicopter icon. What is the magic?

In an ideal world, perhaps. In the real world, the registration information does not include the type designator, and we have to derive it from the model description; as I said above, the registration data is irregular, so this isn’t even a case of “just match on the model”.

The flight page has access to data sources that SkyAware does not, notably schedule and flight plan information that commonly includes type designators. This information is associated with the flight, not the aircraft (and can be unreliable)

It is selected based on (in rough order of preference) aircraft type designator, generic species / engine count information derived from the registries (e.g. “landplane, 2 jet engines” - L2J), and ADS-B emitter category information (“rotorcraft”, “fixed wing, light”, etc)

If you are interested in the mechanics of this, then you should really take a look at the source.

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