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Aircraft use nav fixes as waypoints or reporting points along their routes. I have noticed some interesting combinations.

Some make sense, like LUCKI to LYNDI on the LYNDI arrival into San Diego International, known as Lindbergh Field, or KSINO LUXOR on the GRNPA arrival into Las Vegas.

Some are more interesting, like HIMOM KALME on the FRNCH arrival into Denver, or ASTAH LVSTA ADYOS on the ADYOS departure from Albuquerque.

Some get downright suspicious, like ITUNE MUSCC DWNLD on the LOWBO arrival into Albuquerque.

So my question is: how do these points get named? These combinations are memorable, but are they also allowed to be sponsored? Or is this a case of "Any resemblance to actual entities is entirely coincidental."

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some interns at FAA maybe –  ratchet freak Mar 28 at 21:13
    
lol @ ITUNE MUSCC DWNLD –  Speldosa Mar 29 at 11:51
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In the US, they are assigned by a division in the FAA called Aeronautical Information Management (AIM), per FAA Order JO 7400.2J (Procedures for Handling Airspace Matter), section 3-3-2:

a. Service area office are responsible for assigning and changing names of NAVAID and aeronautical facilities, and must follow the instructions contained herein and in FAAO JO 7350.8, Location Identifiers, Chapter 1.

b. AIM is responsible for issuing five−letter names for radio fixes, waypoints, marker beacons, and compass locators. Five−letter names must be issued by AIM to the Terminal Procedures and Charting Group, Major Military Commands (MAJCOM) and Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) for future assignments.

It's conceivable they accept suggestions from ARTCCs or other entities. I don't know. I doubt paid sponsorship is approved but have no first hand knowledge there. Suggestions are probably casual and intormal.

They are often quite amusing, like ITAWT ITAWA PUDYE TTATT. Very often enroute fixes are named for small towns or other points of interest near the fix.

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A particularly interesting collection of waypoints on the FRDMM STAR into Washington: flightaware.com/resources/airport/ADW/STAR/FRDMM+TWO+(RNAV)/pdf –  newmanth Apr 1 at 19:58
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As well as the FAA's part mentioned in dvnrrs's answer, they are also part of ICAO's 5LNC (Five-Letter Name-Code) system, which records available pronounceable 5 letter codes (they don't have to be words).

While these are meant to be unique, there are several cases where different countries have duplicate names from legacy naming systems. As of February 2014, there are 130 codes that are duplicates of others in other countries.

Usually, there is usually some form of selection to prevent similar-sounding names from being used as a 5LNC in the area. For example, the UK Civil Aviation Authority states that (emphasis mine):

Where a significant point is required at a position not marked by the site of a radio navigation aid, the significant point shall be designated by a unique five letter pronounceable ‘name-code’ (5LNC). This name-code designator then serves as the name as well as the coded designator of the significant point and shall be selected so as to avoid any difficulties in pronunciation by pilots or ATS personnel when speaking in the language used in ATS communication. The name-code designator shall be easily recognisable in voice communications and shall be free of ambiguity with those used for other significant points in the same general area. The name-code designator assigned to a significant point shall not be assigned to any other significant point. (Reference B)

ICAO has parts of its 5LNC database available to view publicly here.

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