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Old 10-25-2007, 06:58 AM   #1  
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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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Old 10-25-2007, 07:10 AM   #2  
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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!
I think the problem stems from the actual random-ness of the call sign assigned. To really fix this one needs to de-conflict (in a methodical, NON-random fashion) similar call signs to minimize potential same time use of two similars in the same ATC sector. Pretty sure the Co. doesn't designate anyone to reassign these prior to airline scheds releasing their trunk schedule.

As to why this isn't done, or still is a problem...well maybe the Enders folks had the answer.
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Old 10-25-2007, 07:20 AM   #3  
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I sometimes fly flt 357 to (I think) FSD. My proposal is for us to start using callsigns for flights. For instance:

Us: "Memphis Center, FDX 357 passing 16,000 for 230. We need you to refer to us for the rest of the trip now as MAGNUM"

Center: "huh?"

Us: "Yeah....we ain't gonna answer anything but "MAGNUM" for the next 80 minutes, so pass it on down the sectors, okay?"

I can assure you'd we'd never miss a MANGNUM call.

The fun part would be naming each flight.... some ideas:

1818= "legal/legal"

1478 (TLH) = "seminole" or (poor taste I know) "bushwacker"

You get the idea. Have some fun naming your favorite trips. I'm sure we'd have some GREAT trips going into the Orient with some pretty cool names like "happy ending" and "long time".

Remember--its all about SAFETY, legality, and reliability....oh...and pride.
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Old 10-25-2007, 08:39 AM   #4  
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Quite a few years ago I was working a week of NRT-PEK-NRT night flights. I think we did four of them. I can't remember the exact trip number but it was something like 86P. Every night we worked the inbound back to NRT 86R would also show up on one of the freqs that Tokyo was using. And one night we had 86P, 86R and 86S all on the same freq at the same time. One crew (not us, thank God) had a tough time figuring out who the controllers were talking to. The captain I was working with wrote a safety report on it. It was obviously a very effective safety report.
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:53 PM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Albief15 View Post
I sometimes fly flt 357 to (I think) FSD. My proposal is for us to start using callsigns for flights. For instance:

Us: "Memphis Center, FDX 357 passing 16,000 for 230. We need you to refer to us for the rest of the trip now as MAGNUM"

Center: "huh?"

Us: "Yeah....we ain't gonna answer anything but "MAGNUM" for the next 80 minutes, so pass it on down the sectors, okay?"

I can assure you'd we'd never miss a MANGNUM call.

The fun part would be naming each flight.... some ideas:

1818= "legal/legal"

1478 (TLH) = "seminole" or (poor taste I know) "bushwacker"

You get the idea. Have some fun naming your favorite trips. I'm sure we'd have some GREAT trips going into the Orient with some pretty cool names like "happy ending" and "long time".

Remember--its all about SAFETY, legality, and reliability....oh...and pride.
FNT= "Rusty"
SAN = "smoke"
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:56 PM   #6  
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BTR= Red stick
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:35 PM   #7  
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SFS = dogpile
PEK = asthma
DEL = montezuma
BOM = leper
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:36 PM   #8  
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here's another

MSY=levee
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:03 PM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperone View Post
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.
Don't wat the bean counters to have to change their spreadsheets!
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Old 10-25-2007, 04:50 PM   #10  
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EWR = F you
BHM = Toothbrush (notice not teethbrush)
PHL = wheels up time
ALA = student aid
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