08/19/2010

easyJet is tops!

For all regular flights leaving Geneva airport the pilot should set a callsign starting with the airline's ICAO code. Sometimes they make mistakes: errare humanum est!


The callsign for the flight will be typed in by the pilot before takeoff. It will normally be the three-character ICAO identifier of the airline, followed by characters to indicate the particular flight. An example is that of flights of the airline Swiss, whose callsign begins with SWR (yes, that goes back to the days of Swissair!).

Sometimes, perhaps in the haste to depart, the pilot forgets to put in any callsign: an example is the easyJet flight EZS1345,to Rome yesterday, 18 August. At other times he may experience what we often expperience oursselves on a (ccompputer) keyyboard, namely a double tap. One example out of many would be the Swiss flight with callsign SSWR22B, instead of SWR22B, one day in July.

Sometimes the pilot replaces the 3-character unique ICAO code with the IATA two character code, not always unique, which you may see on airport noticeboards. Thus, the flight SAS618 once became SK618.

Pilots also sometimes omit the 3-character ICAO identifier, just typing the particular flight identifier. Two examples from yesterday are 50V, instead of KLM50V (flight KL1926 to Amsterdam) and 931E, instead of RAM931E (flight AT931 to Casablanca).

All of this is of little consequence: the passengers know what the flight code is, whilst the air traffic controllers can ask the pilot to identify his aircraft. It does make it sometimes difficult for users of the ARAG Geneva Aircraft Movement Enquiry system GAME to identify correctly what is the flight, but when necessary a little detective work can find all the answers.

My favourite error was, however, the pilot of the easyJet UK flight from Gatwick to Geneva on 5 July, who set the callsign TOPS8570 instead of EZY8570 (hence the title of this blog!). We cannot be quite sure if he was making a statement or just having fun. However, he might care to remember that, although many people think that the phrase following the Latin "errare humanum est" (to err is human)  is translated as "to forgive, divine", in reality this continuation, attributed to Seneca the Younger, is

errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum

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