ICAO code

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ICAO codes are used to uniquely identify airports, heliports, airlines and types of aircraft. They are awarded by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) . ICAO codes are used by air traffic control , flight planning and flight operations.

They are not to be confused with the three-letter IATA codes for airports with cruising air traffic, which passengers are confronted with much more frequently because they are used as abbreviations for flight destinations when selling flight services, on reservations, tickets, time tables at the airport, etc. to be used. They are also not to be confused with the aircraft registration numbers .

Character code for airfields

ICAO code: assignment of the first letter to countries

ICAO codes for airfields and heliports consist of four Latin letters. Each code - it is also called " Location Indicator " Document 7910 of the ICAO - is only issued once worldwide.

Structure of the ICAO code: first part

The first letter indicates the region / continent or in some cases the country in which the airport is located.

The second letter usually denotes the country (e.g. ED = Germany, LO = Austria, LS = Switzerland, EG = Great Britain). Germany is one of the few countries to have two first combinations, where ED stands for civil and ET for military airfields. This is due to the fact that ET used to stand for the German Democratic Republic .

Since for southern Europe (first letter L) all 26 letters were already assigned in the second position, the first letter B (actually polar region) had to be used for Kosovo.

Structure of the ICAO code: second part

The last two characters (in the case of countries that are only represented by one letter, the last three ) are used to assign the airports within the respective countries. Their meanings are regulated differently depending on the country.


In Germany , ED has been used for civil and ET for military airfields since reunification . Before that, ED was in use for all airfields in the Federal Republic of Germany and ET for all airfields in the German Democratic Republic.

If there is also a D in the third position for civilian places , then it is an international airport . Example: EDDF - Frankfurt, EDDH - Hamburg, EDDN - Nuremberg, EDDM - Munich.

Until the centralization of the flight information service AIS , the third letter stood for the AIS of the international commercial airport, in whose area of ​​responsibility the place lay. Example: EDFM - Mannheim (area of ​​responsibility: Frankfurt), or EDHK - Kiel (area of ​​responsibility: Hamburg).

After reunification, around 100 places in the new federal states were given the letter combinations ED and then A, B, C, E, O and U as the third letters .

If the letters are not sufficient in a large area, other letters without any particular reference are also selected here, e.g. B. Nordbayern P and Q .

Example : The traffic and special landing areas in the western part of Northern Bavaria still belong to the Frankfurt = EDF area. In eastern northern Bavaria (east of Würzburg and north of Nuremberg) the places have the identifier EDQA - EDQZ (only J, Q, U and V are not assigned as the fourth letter). South of Nuremberg then EDN (for Nuremberg) or EDP and further south from about Straubing then merging into the EDM area (for Munich).

The fourth letter corresponds - if still available - to the first letter of the place (e.g. EDQG for Giebelstadt or EDQZ for (Pegnitz) - Z ipser Berg).

In the case of military airfields, the third letter indicates which armed forces use the area, see examples, including closed facilities:

A for US Air Force ETAR - Ramstein , ETAD - Spangdahlem
E, I, O for US Army ETEK - Baumholder , ETOR - Coleman AAF ( Mannheim ), ETIC - Grafenwoehr AAF, ETIE - Heidelberg , ETIH - Hohenfels AAF, ETOI - Vilseck AAF, ETOU - Wiesbaden
H for army aviators ETHA - Altenstadt , ETHH - Bonn- Hardthöhe , ETHB - Bückeburg , ETHC - Celle , ETHS - Faßberg , ETHF - Fritzlar , ETHL - Laupheim , ETHN - Niederstetten , ETHE - Rheine , ETHR - Roth
M for marine ETME - Eggebek , ETMN - Nordholz , ETMK - Kiel
N for Air Force
Northern Germany
ETNG - Geilenkirchen , ETNH - Hohn , ETNJ - Jever , ETNK - Cologne , ETNL - Rostock-Laage , ETNN - Nörvenich , ETNP - Hopsten , ETNS - Schleswig / Jagel , ETNT - Wittmund , ETNU - Neubrandenburg , ETNW - Wunstorf
S for Air Force
South Germany
ETSB - Büchel , ETSE - Erding , ETSH - Holzdorf , ETSN - Neuburg , ETSA - Landsberg , ETSL - Lechfeld , ETSI - Ingolstadt-Manching
U for UK RAF /
British Army
EDUO / ETUO - Gütersloh , EDUL / ETUL - Laarbruch , EDUR / ETUR - Brüggen , EDUW - Wildenrath
W for the Defense Technology
ETWM - Meppen


In Austria, for example, the third letter at small, non-international airports and heliports indicates the airport that is responsible for the search and rescue service:

  • If the third letter is a G , Graz / Thalerhof Airport is responsible; if he is a K , is Klagenfurt responsible, etc.
  • If it is at the airport by an international airport, this is achieved by a W in.
  • An X is indicated for military airfields only.

The fourth letter is usually identical to the first letter of the geographical location to which the airfield is assigned, with a few exceptions. Examples:

  • LOAM = Vienna Meidlinger Kaserne Heliport of the flight police (the heliport belongs to the Vienna air traffic control center.) But since a W stands for international airports, an A is used for Vienna in such cases to avoid confusion. (The A comes from the abandoned Aspern Airport in Vienna )
  • LOGK = Kapfenberg ( L = Southern Europe, O = Austria, G = Graz Airport, K = Kapfenberg)
  • LOGU = Graz Unfallkrankenhaus / LKH West ( L = Southern Europe, O = Austria, G = Graz Airport, U = UKH / LKH West Graz)
  • LOWS = Salzburg ( L = Southern Europe, O = Austria, W = international airport, S = Salzburg)
  • LOWW = Vienna Schwechat ( L = Southern Europe, O = Austria, W = international airport, W = Vienna)
  • LOWZ = Zell am See ( L = Southern Europe, O = Austria, W = exception, no international airport, Z = Zell am See)
  • LOXN = Wiener Neustadt military airfield ( L = Southern Europe, O = Austria, X = military airfield, N = Neustadt)


In Switzerland , the so-called FIR ( Flight Information Region ) LS is divided into two roughly equal halves. These are the information areas of Zurich and Geneva. The third letter is assigned either to one of these sub-regions or to private, helicopter or military sites. The last letter is usually the initial of the airport.

Airports within the Zurich region are supplemented with LS Z _, in Geneva with LS G _. (Examples: LSZH = Zurich Airport , LSGG = Aéroport International de Genève ). There are also LS P _ (private), LS X _ (helicopter) and LS M _ (military) airfields. A specialty is the binational EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg, operated jointly by Switzerland and France . Since this is located on French territory and is assigned to France, it has the ICAO code LFSB (B for Bâle-Mulhouse), but also has the LSZM code (assigned to Switzerland) called "Special AFTN Address".

United States

In the US , the IATA code of the airport is generally added to the first letter (K) to form the ICAO code (example: KJFK for New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport ). However, the reverse is not permissible: Since there are many small airports or places that have not received an IATA airport code at all, the American aviation authority FAA has assigned its own 3-letter codes for such airports without comparing these codes with the IATA. (Example: KNRN is the ICAO code for the Norton Municipal airport in Kansas / USA with the FAA code NRN. The IATA, on the other hand, has assigned the letter combination NRN to Niederrhein / Weeze airport north of Düsseldorf.)

Codes for airports in the states of Alaska and Hawaii are in the North Pacific region and therefore begin with PA and PH, respectively.

Particularly large states

  • India uses V (South Asia) plus the first 4 vowels, i.e. VA, VE, VO, VU.
  • The PR China uses Z and all (?) Letters in the 2nd position, except K and M (ZK = North Korea, ZM = Mongolia).

Airline character code

The ICAO also has coding for airlines. It currently consists of three letters (e.g. DLH for Deutsche Lufthansa , AUA for the Austrian Airlines Group or SWR for Swiss International Airlines ) and is specified in ICAO document 8585 (Designators for Aircraft Operating Agencies, Aeronautical Authorities and Services) . They are not based on a system like the airport codes.

Similar to the airports, passengers are more familiar with the IATA codes, which consist of two letters or numbers (e.g. LH for Deutsche Lufthansa , OS for Austrian Airlines and LX for Swiss International Airlines). However, some companies use their ICAO 3 letter code, be it because they do not have an IATA code or for marketing reasons. For example, the airline easyJet primarily uses its concise ICAO code EZY instead of the IATA code U2.

The code system for airlines was introduced by the ICAO in 1947 and was originally based on a two-digit system that was also used by the IATA in the same form . At the time an airline in the scheduled flight Association IATA she was at that time tens of ICAO (officially called "two-letter designator" than) unchanged as IATA code. At that time it was not possible to identify whether an airline was a member of IATA based on the code alone. For example, the scheduled airline Lufthansa originally used the abbreviation LH as the ICAO code and as the IATA code. In contrast, the abbreviation DZ only stood for the ICAO code of the charter airline Calair , because it was not an IATA member and therefore did not have an IATA code. Due to the increased number of airlines, the 3-digit code system was introduced by the ICAO in 1982. After a five-year transition phase, it came into force on November 1, 1987 and replaced the 2-digit code system.

Character code for aircraft types

In addition, the ICAO assigns four-digit codes consisting of letters and numbers for aircraft types (example A332 for the Airbus A330-200 ), see list of aircraft type codes . All aircraft are given an ICAO code, which can be looked up in Document 8643 (Aircraft Type Designators). This code must be used, for example, when submitting a flight plan .

Character code for machine-readable travel documents

In addition to pure air traffic signs and sign are determined by the ICAO machine readable (: English travel documents machine-readable passport - MRTD ) awarded, which in turn comprise Countries character codes. These country codes are described in document 9303 / MRTD of the ICAO.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. jp aircraft markings, jp airlines-fleets international, Edition 1966 - Edition 1988/89
  2. Yearbook of the United Nations, Volume 41, 1987, Chapter X, p. 1259.