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BA Call Signs

Old 26th Sep 2005, 17:35
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BA Call Signs

As one of those evil people who use a scanner, can anyone tell me the difference between "speedbird", "shuttle" and "British" when applied to BA liveried aircraft.
As an aside, listening to airband radio has given me tremendous pleasure and knowledge and I have nothing but respect and admiration for those involved. Particularly when listening for Concorde at LHR, so that we were in the right place at the right time.
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Old 26th Sep 2005, 18:18
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Hi Nfield750.

SPEEDBIRD is the British Airways callsign and goes back to the old B.O.A.C. days. They had a Gold speedbird emblem on the tail. This was prior to the merger with BEA who used the callsign Beeline to become B.A. Other smaller airlines were also swallowed up like Cambrian.

BRITISH is the callsign of B.A. Cityexpress flying ERJ145, Dash8 and Bae146/RJ100 aircraft.

SHUTTLE is also B.A. aircraft ( I think only 737 and A319/A320 aircraft ?) and on a few routes like Heathrow-Birmingham / Manchester etc but I may be wrong.

I am also an airband enthusiast for over 35 years now, also recent G.A. pilot.

Hope this helps and someone can add to the SHUTTLE callsign.


Last edited by swp53; 26th Sep 2005 at 18:35.
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Old 26th Sep 2005, 18:24
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Shuttle used to be the preserve of BA LHR routes to MAN,GLA,EDI & BFS(when BA used to do that route).It was Speedbird on the other LHR domestics(to NCL,ABZ)& on all BA mainline out of LGW.

From last winter(if i remember)it was changed for some reason to take into account ALL BA domestic flights out of LHR & LGW - to MAN,NCL,EDI,GLA & ABZ.

British is indeed for BA Regional flights.

Speedbird for long haul(possibly European flights as well??)
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Old 26th Sep 2005, 18:26
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....which leaves me wondering why LGW-JER doesn't use the "Shuttle" c/s?
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Old 26th Sep 2005, 18:29
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From what I understand:

Shuttle: Mainline BA domestic routes as mentioned below to MAN, EDI, GLA etc etc, including NCL etc.
British: Callsign for BA Citi express division.
Speedbird: Mainline BA

Also in BA Livery are:

BMed: British Mediterranean
GeeBee: GB Airways
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Old 26th Sep 2005, 18:35
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LGW - JER may use a Speedbird callsign because it operates as a European flight (i.e. with two classes of service instead of the single on domestics).
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Old 26th Sep 2005, 18:37
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And of course:

Logan: Loganair
SunScan: Sun-Air Scandinavia
Commerical: Comair

BA also used to use "Santa" for their Xmas charter flights to Lapland although that hasnt been used for a good few years.
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Old 26th Sep 2005, 18:38
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Also, Jersey ain't domestic...

The Odd One
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Old 27th Sep 2005, 00:06
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Shuttle used to denote the specific 'Super Shuttle' service that was introduced in the seventies. This was the good old days when you just turned up without a reservation and if the plane (usually a Trident) was full they would fire up a back up. They even advertised the fact that you might be the only one on that flight but I bet it never happened...

These flights linked Heathrow with Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Manchester. (Other domestic flights used the Speedbird callsign) Each route had a specific number which someone sadder than me might correct me but I think it was 2/3 to/from MCR, 4/5 to/from BFS, 6/7 to/from GLA and 8/9 to/from EDI. Hence LHR-GLA might have been Shuttle Six Alpha or SH6A - the Alpha being the first shuttle of the day, the next being Bravo, Charlie and so on. GLA-LHR would have been SH7A. (I think the letters lost their significance at some stage and were allocated on a random basis).

Alas, there wasn't a Shuttle One service. This would have given rise to the possibility of the callsign Shuttle One Tango or SH1T for short. That possibility finally went when the two letter SH prefix became a three letter SHT prefix.

Now, as previously stated, the shuttle callsign is applied to all domestic services (apart from Jersey apparently...).
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Old 27th Sep 2005, 09:14
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...well remember the "proper" Shuttle "turn-up-and-take-off" service during the 80's. Used to use LHR-MAN a lot and BFS occasionally.

Can only remember one occasion when I ended up on the back-up, at MAN, a T2 backing-up the scheduled 75' - this was not long before their retirement.

Also rememeber all those L1011 flights to BFS at Xmas.
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Old 27th Sep 2005, 14:17
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One thing I could never understand was the back up ariving at its destination before the original flight which seemed to happen quite regularly.

I guess Heathrow slots are worth far too much now to allocate some to back up services
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Old 27th Sep 2005, 20:14
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Used to operate "shuttle back-up" with BAC 1-11's from MAN. Quite often the numbers turning up for a popular departure would definitely fill the T-bird and so our little 1-11 was certain to be used - thus we would "Irish" the back -up by departing with a full load as soon as poss leaving the groundgripper to leave on time with the rest of the pax...........
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Old 27th Sep 2005, 20:58
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Ah ETOPS, thanks for the explination, it is something that has troubled me for years

They used 1-11s as back ups to Glasgow as well but having any old aeroplane hanging around an airport was quite useful. One of my first fam flights (remember them???) was a hop to Aberdeen. Unfortunately, the Budgie was bust so they used the Trident that was there as the shuttle back up. It took about 20 minutes.
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Old 28th Sep 2005, 13:06
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As another, sometimes puzzled, scanner listener can I ask about suffixes to callsign.

I can work out that the 'T' suffix (probably) stands for training, but I frequently hear the 'P' suffix, and I'm not sure about that one?
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Old 28th Sep 2005, 13:16
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Understand "P" is for positioning.


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Old 28th Sep 2005, 14:27
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Q. Which call sign is missing?

A. Bealine (although you'll only hear it on the ground at LHR)
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Old 28th Sep 2005, 16:23
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Did BA use the c/s 'Albion', or was that another company?
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Old 28th Sep 2005, 19:58
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Understand "P" is for positioning.
Although this really only applies to UK airlines. Most European (East & West) tend to use the suffix 'Foxtrot" on their callsigns for positioning flights

Fried Chicken
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Old 28th Sep 2005, 20:03
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"SHUTTLE is also B.A. aircraft ( I think only 737 and A319/A320 aircraft "

Also the good old 757 i have seen + heard before!

Justy thuoght i'd throw that in!

OMG my typing is terrible! lol \
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Old 28th Sep 2005, 20:53
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Yes Albion was used for a while; mid 1970s if memory serves.
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