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I have a collection of tail numbers of US aircraft which flew a bunch of domestic flights in the 2000's, but some of them seem to end with @ or @@, or @@@, which are obviously not a valid tail number characters. My question is - are these prefixes of tail numbers with the last character/digit removed? Or are these valid tail numbers if we just drop the @'s?

Examples:

N71@@@
N9346@
N93@@@
N795@@
N796@@
N797@@
N400@@
N401@@
N402@@
N403@@
N3744@
N405@@
N406@@
N404@@
N407@@
N3753@
N3752@
N3756@
N408@@
N409@@
N411@@
N3759@
N3765@
N3766@
N3767@
N3768@
N410@@
N412@@
N413@@
N414@@

Now, I could go look up these numbers in the registry. But - that would look up current data, while I need data from 2001 and 2002. Today, some of these numbers (when dropping the @'s) are registered to private individuals, some to non-airline companies, and some aren't registered at all.

Note: The carriers owning these specific numbers in the list above were Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines.

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    $\begingroup$ Please don't use codeblocks for text that is not code. You could easily list these separated by commas, in a table, or with listing; it only makes illegible the symbols in the sentences. $\endgroup$ – Nij Jan 30 at 12:11
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Having just N71 could be a valid tail #, but airlines almost always use all 5 characters. Most likely, the "@" characters are masking the actual characters in the full tail number.

A site like PlaneSpotters dot net may help, but the search on https://www.planespotters.net/photo/search?tag=N405 gives both 405DX (Delta) and 405WN (Southwest). Further research may reveal if either of those was only active outside your target dates, but there will probably be cases where neither can be ruled out.

In this case, the current N405DX is pretty new, while N405WN first flew in 2001 (link), so that's probably it. But there could have been a different Delta jet flying in 2001 using that registration, so again, more research required to rule that out entirely. Searching Google on the full tail number is often useful that way.

Anything with three masked characters is probably beyond resolving, but with only one or two it may be possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ Whell, the thing is, there are counter-examples to that rule. Like this one: N3768, for Delta Airlines, issued in early 2002. $\endgroup$ – einpoklum Jan 30 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, go with that then. Google those numbers with the @s removed & go with that. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jan 30 at 17:18

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