FlightAware Discussions

Why are New Zealand regional callsigns still all messed up?

In New Zealand, regional airlines are currently showing (and have been for some time actually) as a hybrid of the ICAO and IATA callsigns. For instance, flightaware.com/live/flight/RLK8077

This flight doesn’t exist. RLK is Air Link, which is the ICAO callsign for Air Nelson. The IATA flight code is NZ8077, but the callsign used on the radio and on the radar is RLK77, or perhaps RLK077.

Mount Cook Airlines is another good example:
flightaware.com/live/flight/NZM5221 NZM (Mount Cook) 221. The correct ICAO callsign is NZM221. The correct IATA callsign is NZ5221. But the CORRECT callsign is NZM221.

So, why is the data showing on here a blend of the two callsigns, creating one that is incorrect on both counts? What was wrong with the old way, which was to always display the ICAO code that came straight from the feed provided by Airways New Zealand?

This is actually by-design. That particular flight indeed operated with a callsign on ATC as RLK77, but we have published flight schedule information from the airline that specifically lists the flight number from CHC-IVC as being flight number 8077. Therefore, we combine the data together and use the official flight number that the schedule information is published as using.

This is the same case. We have actual flight schedule information from the airline that says their AKL-PMR flight is numbered 5221, even though the callsign that they operate over ATC might be 221.

It’s common for airlines to use a slight variation of their flight number when generating the callsign used with ATC. Sometimes it’s a variation that involves removing digits or sometimes it is appending extra letters. This is typically done for brevity or to avoid a confusing conflict between similarly numbered flights that might be operating at the same time. Since our users are typically interested in finding the flight based on the scheduled number that they booked their ticket using (not off of the ATC callsign), that is what we canonicalize our flight idents to. We have plans to store the original ATC callsign and allow users to search for a flight using either, but that’s not quite ready yet.

This happen a while ago but after contacting flight aware the problem has being solved

Hmm, so it is. But now I’m more confused. First it’s suggested the hybrid IATA/ICAO callsigns (creating something that never exists in real life) is by design, and now today I see it’s back to how it used to be and would be for anyone looking at a radar screen (and should be, in my opinion) - ICAO only. I’d love to celebrate… but I’m worried it’s going to revert back to the hybrid callsigns any moment now.

I have watched and found using flightaware tracking these codes are used ZK-NZM then you find out it was EAGLE or it’s air new zealand’s aircraft yet ANZ use NZ131 NZ135 NZ5 NZ1 etc. Where as years ago it was TE5 TE124 TE22 that’s when they had DC8’S DC10’S in there fleet then when the B742’s came in it was changed for the call sign or code to NZ. But at the moment FLIGHTAWARE have fix the problem.

Alas, it’s now broken again. I see we now have the awful hybrid callsigns that are apparently ‘by design’. RLK8331. Flightaware, if you’re wanting to make it easy for members of the general pubic to follow their flight and you think the ICAO callsigns are too hard for them to understand, then please, at least use the IATA callsign in it’s entirety. What you’re doing at the moment is awful for both groups.

If I’m a non-aviation-fan member of a the general public and following NZ8331, I won’t see it on FlightAware. Instead, I’ll see RLK8331, and I’ll think it’s a different aircraft. But really… the elephant in the room here is that non-aviation fans probably don’t spend all that long here. So why not cater to the aviation fans and just stick with the ICAO callsign?

Just to reiterate:

ICAO Callsign: RLK331
IATA Callsign: NZ8331
FlightAware Hybrid callsign: RLK8331

Issue occurring again Estimated positions duplicating actual flight - RLK