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Find / track AA / US registration / "tail" number, flights (consolidated)

Find / track AA / US registration / "tail" number, flights (consolidated)

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Old Apr 22, 20, 9:04 am   -   Wikipost
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How to find the registration / "tail" number on AA (and other) planes and flights


Numbers commonly associated with commercial aircraft include:
  • Registration (or "Tail") Number (in the US, begin with "N"), which may change with aircraft ownership and certainly so if ownership is also a change of registration country, comparably to an automobile's license number. Some refer to this as a "tail number", though it is generally found on the aft portion of the fuselage under or near the tail, and some aircraft sport the fleet number on the actual tail.

  • Fleet Number or "nose code", a shorter identifying code, that is normally associated with the Registration Number, often only two or three (alphanumeric) characters; it may reflect some of the registration numbers or not, and may include other information (e.g. "ETOPS"). This number would be analogous to a company's auto fleet number.

  • Manufacturer's Serial Number: (MSN or msn) or Construction Number (cn or c/n), which is like an automobile's Vehicle Identification Number or VIN - this number is issued to the hull itself and does not change, from construction to wrecking yard (with very few exceptions, such as a rebuild from multiple aircrafts). This number will also often appear on an affixed plate within the fuselage. This is the "gold standard" for identifying a specific aircraft, as Registration Numbers can be assigned to more than one aircraft at different times.

  • Line Number: The constructor / manufacturer also assigns a Line Number that represents the order in which it was built relative to others of the same model on the production line.
E.g. AA Boeing 777-223ER registered in the US as N761AJ carries a fleet number 7BW on the nose gear door and was issued the Construction Number 31478 by Boeing, and it is the 393rd 777 built by Boeing. In some databases or photo sites, this will be represented as "N761AJ / 7BW (cn 31478/393)".

AA shows the Reg number in the FIL in Sabre.

For aircraft you can see, the registration number is generally painted on the aft fuselage near or before the tail root (not on the tail). If you can not see that, the fleet number is usually painted on the nose wheel door. (If you have that, you can easily determine the aircraft registration number.)

The numbers are also on a small metal plate affixed to the bulkhead near the first port (left) door. (It's best not to look for and read this when boarding with a queue behind one .)

Various sites where the aircraft and flight data are archived or displayed are discussed in the ensuing posts.

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Old Jan 2, 06, 9:55 pm
  #1  
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Find / track AA / US registration / "tail" number, flights (consolidated)

I like to keep a log of the planes I've flown, so I try to get the tail #s.

I've asked the flight attendants, and none seem to know what the tail # of the aircraft we're flying is.

Normally I just look at the tail through the window before boarding, but sometimes I'm coming in on a quick connection and leaving on one and don't have time/forget.

Once, I asked a gate agent who replied to me with some hostility: "we can't give that information out for security reasons."

Not sure, but is there any way to find this information out online or somewhere else?

Last edited by JDiver; Jun 25, 13 at 12:37 pm Reason: deleted mod note, moved content to wikipost
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Old Jan 2, 06, 10:25 pm
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On some flights JFK-LAX, I've seen a sticker with the tail # posted in the J class galley.
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Old Jan 2, 06, 10:33 pm
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Originally Posted by chaneytexas
I like to keep a log of the planes I've flown, so I try to get the tail #s.

Not sure, but is there any way to find this information out online or somewhere else?
Goto: http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_...ledStatistics/

You can look up your flight information from there, which will include a tail number (with a few exceptions). Usually there is a 2-3 month delay in the information being accessible online. Also, I've noticed that for some AA aircraft (MD80s if I remember correctly), they do not have their tail number listed (N****), but rather a fleet designator (e.g. 3AT) corresponding to what is found on the nose gear door. I used to know of a database that would then let you find the tail number from the fleet number, but it recently went offline.
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Old Jan 2, 06, 10:36 pm
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Perfect! Thank you!
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Old Jan 3, 06, 2:21 am
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Also look on the "sill" of the door as you get on and off... there is a metal plate riveted there with the tail number stamped on it.

Or, you can look out of the terminal window
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Old Jan 3, 06, 9:52 am
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There is also an FAA permit (paper about 5x7) mounted near the entrance door. Location vaires depending on aircraft. Easier to read then the metal plate. There are 2 numbers. The N (tail number/FAA number) and the AA plane ID number that is on the front wheel door. This is a 3 digit number. For 777 it is 7XX (it started at 7AA) for 757 it is 5XX (started at 5AA). They do not use I,O and Z in this ID. Not sure of the rest.
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Old Jan 3, 06, 11:04 am
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Originally Posted by Bill_Luv2Fly
Goto: http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_...ledStatistics/

You can look up your flight information from there, which will include a tail number (with a few exceptions). Usually there is a 2-3 month delay in the information being accessible online. Also, I've noticed that for some AA aircraft (MD80s if I remember correctly), they do not have their tail number listed (N****), but rather a fleet designator (e.g. 3AT) corresponding to what is found on the nose gear door. I used to know of a database that would then let you find the tail number from the fleet number, but it recently went offline.
Hmm, thanks! Just wondering, is it only MD80s that have a fleet desginator instead of tail # on the BTS site? There's a few #'s I'd like to know the aircraft for such as (mostly STL-MCO flights)
N5FCAA
N5TAAA
N526AA
N4WYTW
N4XATW
N3CEAA
Does 5 mean 757? What do 4 and 3 mean?
I've tried looking these up on Airliners.net and can't find any aircraft matches.
Thanks! And by the way, is there a site that gives the aircraft registration # for international flights, like TWA STL-YVR (back in 2000!)?
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Old Jan 3, 06, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by bursa
Hmm, thanks! Just wondering, is it only MD80s that have a fleet desginator instead of tail # on the BTS site? There's a few #'s I'd like to know the aircraft for such as (mostly STL-MCO flights)
N5FCAA
N5TAAA
N526AA
N4WYTW
N4XATW
N3CEAA
Does 5 mean 757? What do 4 and 3 mean?
I've tried looking these up on Airliners.net and can't find any aircraft matches.
Thanks! And by the way, is there a site that gives the aircraft registration # for international flights, like TWA STL-YVR (back in 2000!)?
I could be completely wrong about this, but if I remember correctly, for the fleet numbers 3=737, 4=MD80, 5=757. Like I said before, I don't know of a complete online database anymore that allows cross referencing between fleet numbers and tail numbers. I'd say your best bet is to google "3CE American 737", which refers you to a page that has both the fleet number and tail number (look at the cached page if it does not load). Such a technique may not always work, though.
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Old Jan 3, 06, 2:02 pm
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tail number on regional jets

I also keep a log of the aircraft that I have flown on. I add to this the name of the F/A on the regional jets and a few notes on aircraft condition, etc.

If you do not get the tail number on a RJ before takeoff, its also located on board on the inside of a galley cubby door. The uppermost cubby on the right hand side. (two seat side of the plane) Just ask the FA to read it to you and then simply rcord it on your palm pilot. As the FA's are typically younger on the RJ flights, you get great service
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Old Jan 3, 06, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by JGR01

Step onto plane.
Put carryon down on the floor.
Set roll-aboard upright making sure it does not tip over.
Get reading glasses from pocket.
Get pen and paper from pocket (being a prepared EXP they are not in the carryon).
Read the Tail Number of the plate.
Write it down.
Take reading glasses back off and stow pen/paper.
Pick up everything set down.
Greet Flight Attendant or cockpit crew who are now coming out to check what this pax is doing.
Proceed to seat.
Oh but why right it down, take a piece of paper and a pencil with you and get a rubbing of each time (like going the vietnam wall) and keep the actual rubbings for posterity. If you think writing it down gets looks this will REALLY get you looks!
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Old Jan 3, 06, 2:24 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by chaneytexas
...Once, I asked a gate agent who replied to me with some hostility: "we can't give that information out for security reasons..."
I've gone off on several FT rants about agents reciting "security" like a mantra when something has no possible security connection, but this is a situation where it actually might. Specifically, someone bent on mischief might want to confirm that the aircraft is the one where an accomplice left something behind on purpose - perhaps one of two components to a device, each of which is benign by itself but which, when combined, could be nasty. So, while there are (as noted in several previous posts) lots of ways to get this information, all of which are equally available to mischief-makers, they might be a bit suspect of someone who thinks it's important to find out.

(When I did some consulting for a railroad a few years back, they were pretty contemptuous of hobbyists who wanted to know locomotive numbers and that sort of thing. Security was not their concern, though their getting in the way was to a degree. The term for them was "FRNs," for "Freakin' [substitute a similar word for complete accuracy] Railroad Nuts." Bottom line is that railroad, or airline, employees may not sympathize with this compulsion.)
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Old Jan 3, 06, 3:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Bill_Luv2Fly
I could be completely wrong about this, but if I remember correctly, for the fleet numbers 3=737, 4=MD80, 5=757. Like I said before, I don't know of a complete online database anymore that allows cross referencing between fleet numbers and tail numbers. I'd say your best bet is to google "3CE American 737", which refers you to a page that has both the fleet number and tail number (look at the cached page if it does not load). Such a technique may not always work, though.
thanks- seraching in that format works great & often yields airliners.net pics!
Usually if I have time I write down the registration # of the a/c just for kicks & keep it in an Excel log, but sometimes I can't see it or I'm in a rush (to clear immigration & catch a connection in 61 minutes, for example). Is there a BTS-equivalent website for aircraft registration numbers for international flights O/D US?
Well, even if there isn't, I'm a happy camper. There is a lot of (somewhat) useless knowledge here on FT!
PS: Next time, repeat steps listed above and then kiss the frame of the aircraft door or registration # plate when you walk in, especially if the lead F/A or pilot is watching. Mutter something about heavy metal love...
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Old Jan 3, 06, 3:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Bill_Luv2Fly
Goto: http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_...ledStatistics/

You can look up your flight information from there, which will include a tail number (with a few exceptions). Usually there is a 2-3 month delay in the information being accessible online. Also, I've noticed that for some AA aircraft (MD80s if I remember correctly), they do not have their tail number listed (N****), but rather a fleet designator (e.g. 3AT) corresponding to what is found on the nose gear door. I used to know of a database that would then let you find the tail number from the fleet number, but it recently went offline.
WAY COOL!

On SOME RJs there is a plack on the wall outside the galley naming the plane after an Employee of the Month and listing the N-number.

Here's another FAA site where you can enter an N-number and get the ergistration information.

BTW, N526AA was a "FALCON-XP" from 05/15/1985 until 04/17/1991 and has been a Bell OH-58C helicopter since 02/19/2003.

And guess who uses N1KE in eaverton, OR?

Last edited by mwhitted; Jan 3, 06 at 4:00 pm
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Old Jan 3, 06, 4:07 pm
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Am I just hallucinating, or did ExpertFlyer used to have the tail number in the comments section of the Flight Status info, but it seems it doesn't anymore?
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Old Jan 3, 06, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by Lehava
Oh but why right it down, take a piece of paper and a pencil with you and get a rubbing of each time (like going the vietnam wall) and keep the actual rubbings for posterity. If you think writing it down gets looks this will REALLY get you looks!
Should we start a thread about 'rubbing' on planes??
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