What makes an ICAO airport identifier...

Jason spent 24 years as an air traffic controller at Los Angeles Center, and recently moved east to work in DC in the Airspace office as an air traffic subject matter expert. He is a Sport Pilot, owns a Rans S12XL E-LSA, and got his >87 knot endorsement so he can rent a C162. He's here to answer your questions about ATC procedures and rules, in a strictly unofficial capacity.

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What makes an ICAO airport identifier...

Postby Flim63 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:24 pm

A discussion in another thread about aircraft designations got me thinking about airport identifiers and the conceptions pilots had of them.

So the wisdom bantered around is to make the ICAO version of an airport, add a K to the front, e.g. LAX becomes KLAX. Does that make W13 become KW13? and why is Maui (OGG) PHOG?

There are really only 2 rules to explain all of it. First, an ICAO airport designator can NOT have any numbers in them, so all the airports such as W92 and CL13 have no ICAO identifier available. To file an ICAO flight plan to them you usually file to the nearest navaid and put the destination airport in remarks, getting a revised clearance when in domestic airspace.

Second rule, all ICAO prefixes are 2 letters... even in the US. We just asked for all K series from KA to KZ, so to make LAX ICAO-fied, we took the KL prefix, added the AX and you have KLAX. Hawaii prefix is PH and Alaska is PA, but that doesn't make figuring out the ICAO easy so you just have to know those.

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