I hear so many times over frequency "cathay.. uh.. xxx" and always wonder if they have some kind of reason why pilots cant seem to memorize it.


1 Answer 1


Commercial pilots rarely fly the same flight number twice in a row, they may be on flight 010, then 218, then 037. Commercial airplanes have a place to put the flight number in the cockpit so the pilots can read it, sometimes a pilot will start to transmit and realize they can't remember the callsign and they have to look at the piece of paper, which is why they pause.

The same is true with GA airplanes, I belong to a flying club with 10 different planes, each with a different registration, and I may fly any one of them on a given day. The registration is generally placarded on the dashboard, I have more than once started a call and had to refer to it.

  • $\begingroup$ yes sir I understand, I fly for airlines also, and we use a memory aid on the yoke where we can set the flight number. It's pretty conveniently located so you can see it easily, which is also why im wondering $\endgroup$
    – Dededkd
    Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ Nobody knows for sure @Dededkd, there's many competing scientific theories on memory. My personal view is that when Aviating, Navigating and Communicating in a complex and challenging environment callsign is a low priority for mental processing. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ It is a abstract number with little or less meaning to some existing memory, while a city as destination should have already some mapping in the brain to existing information. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 12:16

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