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Old 10-25-2007, 05:58 AM   #1  
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Joined APC: Oct 2006
Position: 777 Capt
Posts: 403
Default Safe Skies (Fall 2007) - Level Bust - Call Sign Confusion

Did anyone else find it ironic that the Safety and Standards departments would publish an article in the latest Safe Skies (p. 42) that describes how to increase safety by reducing call sign confusion after repeatedly ignoring safety reports concerning similar-sounding call signs? How many times have we heard other flights answer each others ATC calls because of the similar call signs the bean counters insist we use?

The article states on pages 44-45, "The best defense against call sign confusion consists in eliminating, or reducing to an absolute minimum, the chance of having two (or more) aircraft with phonetically similar call signs monitoring the same RTF frequency at the same time." And, "In allocating call signs, aircraft operators should, where possible, observe the following recommendations:
(a) Avoid the use of similar numeric call signs within the company. Effectively, this means do not use commercial flight numbers as call signs.
(d) Do not use call signs involving four digits..."

Time and again pilots have written safety reports about the numerous MEM AM inbound 1400, MEM PM inbound 1200, IND AM inbound 3600, IND PM inbound 1600 flights using similar sounding call signs. ONE THOUSAND, three-digit call signs to choose from and the bean counters still insist the flight department use these similar sounding four-digit call signs that cause confusion.

Yeah, they've shortened a lot of the MEM inbound and outbound call signs to three digits, but many of them start with the same digit, and they're still not randomized.

Of course, the article ends with recommendations for how flight crews can deal with call sign confusion. As usual, management is ignoring their own safety studies and this article, and laying the problem at the pilots' feet to solve, when simply randomizing three-digit call signs would all but solve all of the call sign confusion we deal with every day domestically. Amazing!
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