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."

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ some interns at FAA maybe $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ lol @ ITUNE MUSCC DWNLD $\endgroup$
    – Speldosa
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 11:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For an Airplane! sequel. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ I find it interesting that some of the fixes on the KMSP ILS 35 approach are JAMEZ, OBERR, and STARR. Jim Oberstar was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at the time the approach was commissioned. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


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.


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)

  • $\begingroup$ The ICAO 5LNC database link appears to be broken. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling it seems public access has been removed unfortunately. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 6:45

Note, my answer that follows is per the US, and having been involved and discussed various naming of fixes and routes. Paid sponsorship doesn't happen. Usually it's the ATC facility that suggests names, and check the existing and reserved names lists.. For SIDs/STARs, the divide is usually the TRACON names the SIDs and the Center names the STARS. For random fixes that don't have to be as pronounceable(lots of RNAV approach fixes/intermediate fixes on arrivals), they can just be randomly assigned as long as they stand a chance of being able to be pronounced.

Controllers have a sense of humor and will see what they can get away with in terms of naming fixes. They have been named for people, both controllers, or people from the area. They can be a joke like the above mentioned ITAWT ITAWA PUDYE TTATT. Though a lot of the more historical fixes on Victor and Jet Airways are named for towns or features they're near.


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