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During my flight training I often heard the term "a company traffic" in radio calls from the ATC like:

N123AB a company traffic is joining downwind runway 24

What does "a company traffic" mean? Why not just mentioning the type of the aircraft like:

N123AB traffic a Piper Archer is joining downwind runway 24

Note: I'm flying in Europe (Switzerland), so maybe it's only used by ATC in my area.

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marked as duplicate by fooot, Sean, David Richerby, Ralph J, Pondlife Apr 4 at 3:37

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  • $\begingroup$ Having listened to some live ATC (feeds from US-based airports) I've always heard that as "a company aircraft" which I assumed to mean an aircraft from the same airline (with the same paintjob). $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Apr 3 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ Okay that would make more sense to me, so I'll change the question. $\endgroup$ – Pascal Ackermann Apr 3 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ Additionally, what I've heard/understood of ATC (admittedly very little, as I'm not a pilot nor in training), is that it is "company traffic", not "a company traffic". Of course, that could be due to listening to native English speaking controllers in the US vs multi-lingual controllers in the EU. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Apr 3 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ @ratchetfreak based on everything I've learned here, that would be the answer. You'll get more magical internet points that you can redeem for rainbows and unicorns if you'll post that as an answer... $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Apr 3 at 11:50
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It means that the traffic to watch out for is from the same airline (and with the same paintjob) as the aircraft ATC is talking to.

Most twinjet airliners look alike from a distance so using the paint job to differentiate them at a glance is preferable over the type.

Using "company" instead of the actual company name makes it clear that there is at least one other aircraft with that paintjob instead of potentially being the same aircraft. (this confusion is more likely when the monitoring system doesn't have full coverage).

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  • $\begingroup$ Same type is possible but I also heard it across different types. But always for aircrafts from the same flight school. $\endgroup$ – Pascal Ackermann Apr 3 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ "company" means having the same operator, which is obvious to ATC if they have the same callsign, e.g. airlines, scheduled cargo, charter, etc. I've even got it a few times for other planes from my flight school, despite not having a callsign, because Tower knew our tail numbers. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Apr 3 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ The last part of this is the most important IMO - it reduces potential confusion: If you're a Delta 737 and ATC tells you "Give way to the KLM and the Delta 737 from the right, then proceed", you could potentially get confused and think you ARE the Delta aircraft being referred to and ATC has gotten confused. Whereas "Give way to the KLM 737 and company 737 from the right" makes it clear that there is another aircraft. $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Apr 3 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ Paint job is not known to Enroute controllers, it just means from same airline. Also some airlines put out special paint jobs with the controller having no idea. The main reason some controllers tell them ‘company’ is so if they communicate with each other they use a company frequency. $\endgroup$ – Bullfrog Apr 29 at 10:55

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