Do privately owned charter planes and jets require a mandatory three digit or four digit flight number with a flight naming convention similar to Commercial airlines carriers following IATA or ICAO rules and regulations?

Do the above naming rules & regulations apply to Private Owned Helicopters?

If yes, what are the flight naming conventions?

If no, what are the reasons?

enter image description here


  • 2
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As you noted, most intl airlines use IATA/ICAO flight numbers and call signs, but when talking of private/charter, you need to specify a country, as those rules would not necessarily apply to them. If USA, then it's a duplicate to the above question, which is worth checking anyway. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Oct 18, 2021 at 5:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. Can you specify private jet charter planes call signs for "India" with examples? $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2021 at 6:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "privately owned charter planes & Jets", is nor very clear, your question seems more about "how are charter flights from small operators numbered in India compared to scheduled flights from large operators having a 2- or 3-letter ICAO operator identifier". $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 18, 2021 at 13:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ At least at the airports I'm familiar with, private jets (and at least some charters) don't use the passenger terminal at all. At my home airport, they're mostly at FBOs on the opposide of the field. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Oct 18, 2021 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


A "call sign" is a business' name plus the (typically) three or four digit flight number.

In all ICAO member countries, private pilots use the airplane's registration number when communicating with ATC. There isn't a flight number, nor is there a company name, so the plane's registration number is all that's available to identify the flight.

Similarly, the big commercial carriers always use call signs. The "business name" is typically registered with the government, but the numbers themselves are assigned by the airline in whatever system they want to use. Usually, the only rule is that you can't have two planes with the same call sign in same airspace simultaneously (although some countries do have stricter rules than that).

For charters, small commuter airlines, etc., there is a lot of variation between countries, so I can't get more specific without knowing which country you're asking about. For instance, the FAA allows any corporation that's registered as an airline and certain charity organizations to request to be allowed to use call signs, but it's not required; they can continue to use airplane registration numbers if they so choose.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. Can you provide some examples to illustrate "Call Signs"? $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2021 at 6:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PrashantAkerkar it could basically be anything, as long as it's approved by aviation authorities and doesn't conflict with other operators. That's also why such things aren't that common on international flights as the approval would have to be obtained from all countries where the aircraft enters their ATC zones. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Oct 18, 2021 at 7:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Prashant here is an example or three $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Oct 18, 2021 at 9:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PrashantAkerkar If you want a quick example, British Airways is a pretty distinctive and ubiquitous one - there you hear ATC referring to BA flights by the callsign "Speedbird". $\endgroup$
    – J...
    Oct 18, 2021 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ @J: A call sign is not the same as a flight number, and 'speedbird' will be used only on voice exchanges, not for air traffic management systems. "British Airways flight 238 would display [...] BA238 on passengers’ boarding cards[...]. To the air traffic controllers it appears as BAW29G and when the controllers and pilots communicate via radio, you would hear ‘Speedbird Two Niner Golf ’" (more). See Call sign Confusion $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 20, 2021 at 14:22

The (very fuzzy) screenshot in your question only shows IATA 2-letter/digit airline codes. Those are only used in airline booking systems, so they are only assigned to airlines. This code is followed by a flight number (assigned by the operator) of one to four digits.

ATC uses 3-letter ICAO codes and associated callsign, and those are available to any operator that does the paperwork and pays the fees. This code is followed by a flight number (assigned by the operator) that is up to four numbers and letters. This often matches the IATA flight number, if any, but this is not required.

For a list of ICAO codes/callsigns and what companies they belong to, see FAA JO 7340.2K, Section 3. Note: the final letter of that changes over time as the document is updated.

Operators who don’t have an approved code/callsign must use the tail number of each plane.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Do the above naming rules & regulations apply to Private Owned Helicopters? $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2021 at 1:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PrashantAkerkar They apply to all aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Oct 19, 2021 at 4:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .