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Regulations: Rules
   Registration Rules
      
 
These rules were written up by Andreas Gehrs-Pahl, schnars@ais.org.

US Registration numbers: Rules (see FAR 47.15(b)): The rules for registration numbers of aircraft in the USA are:
Description:

Form: N[c][-]n[n][n][X][X]
										see : 1 2  3 4 5  6  7  8
										
  1. N (international prefix: USA)
  2. C/L/R/X (Category, mostly omitted)
  3. - (dash, mostly omitted)
  4. digit (1 to 9)
  5. digit (0 to 9 or nothing)
  6. digit (0 to 9 or nothing)
  7. character (0 to 9, A to H, J - N, P - Z or nothing)
  8. character (0 to 9, A to H, J - N, P - Z or nothing)
min.: N1
max.: NX-999ZZ
1) International Prefix:
N (for USA)

2) Category:
Not part of the Registration nor the Prefix, but is sometimes displayed on the aircraft (especially before 1950s):
  • C = Standard,
  • L = Limited,
  • R = Restricted,
  • X = eXperimental.
3) Separator:
The dash (-) or a space ( ) as a Seperator between Prefix and Registration is in most cases omitted.

4-8) Registration:
1 to 5 characters, allowed are digits (0 - 9) and letters (A - H, J - N, P - Z), exempt are I and O, to not be confused with the digits 1 or 0. The registration can be split into two categories:
  1. numeric: 1 to 5 digits (N1 to N99999)
  2. alphanumeric: (here I have to use examples to be 100% clear):
    1A - 9999A (9999 registrations)
    ...
    1Z - 9999Z (for all 24 allowed characters)
    and
    1AA - 999AA (999 registrations)
    ...
    1ZZ - 999ZZ (for all 24*24 allowed combinations)
Summary: N plus 1 to 5 characters (usually without a dash '-', sometimes with a category letter; first character is always a digit from 1 to 9; can be followed by up to 4 more digits and can end with up to 2 letters, but letters can not be followed by digits; the characters I and O are not allowed; no other rules exist, concerning:
  • military/government ownership,
  • special purpose/prototype/evaluation,
  • aircraft type, or
  • location.
Remarks: A total of 99,999 + 9999 * 24 + 999 * 24 * 24 = 915,399 aircraft could be registered at any given time. (The 1990/91 FAA database contains about 300,000 registrations). NASA owned aircraft have mostly registrations of the form NxxxNA, were xxx is a number from 1 to 999. This is not a rule, and this is not a NASA specific registration form. Government owned special purpose aircraft (like CIA operated U-2s) sometimes use 'fake' registrations, which are not in the register, or fly without any registrations. Without a civil registration, it is difficult to get overflight or landing rights from any other country.


German Registration Numbers Rules: The rules for registration numbers of aircraft in Germany have to be divided into 3 time frames:

  1. pre-1945 - Germany (Deutschland, Deutsches Reich, etc.)
  2. 1945 - 1990 - German Republics
    1. 1955 - 1990 - West Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland)
    2. 1952 - 1990 - East Germany (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR)
      1. 1952 - 1956 (International Prefix DDR)
      2. 1956 - 1981 (International Prefix DM)
      3. 1981 - 1990 (International Prefix DDR)
  3. 1990 onwards - Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland)
This description covers time frames 2a) and 3) - post-W.W.II (West) Germany:

Description:

Form: D-XXXX
										see : 123456
										
  1. D (international prefix: D)
  2. - (dash, sometimes omitted, usually not)
  3. character (0 to 9 or A - C, E - I, K - M, O)
  4. character (0 to 9 or A - Z)
  5. character (0 to 9 or A - Z)
  6. character (0 to 9 or A - Z)
min.: D-0001
max.: D-OZZZ
1) International Prefix: D (for Deutschland)

2) Separator: The dash (-) as Seperator of Prefix and Registration is usually displayed.
3-6) Registration: 4 characters, allowed are digits (0 - 9) and letters (A - Z). The registration can be split into two main categories:
  1. numeric: 4 digits (D-0001 to D9999) for:
    • sailplanes/glider have registrations of this form;
    • the block 9500 to 9999 was reserved for some semi-military, government owned, aircraft during the 1960s;
  2. letter: (4 letters D-xAAA - D-xZZZ), where x stands for one of the following aircraft type categories:
    A - multi-engine, MTOW >20,000 kg,
    B - multi-engine, MTOM >14,000 kg - 20,000 kg,
    C - multi-engine, MTOW >5,700 kg - 14,000 kg,
    E - single-engine, MTOW <=2,000 kg,
    F - single-engine, MTOW >2,000 kg - 5,700 kg,
    G - multi-engine, MTOW <=2,000 kg,
    H - all rotory-wing, (Hubschrauber = helicopter)
    I - multi-engine, MTOW >2,000 kg - 5,700 kg,
    K - all powered gliders,
    L - all airships, (Luftschiff = airship)
    M - all ultra lights, (UL)
    O - all manned free balloons,
    the categories D, J, N, P - Z are not used (at this time).
Summary: D- plus 4 characters; either 4 digits (for sailplanes/glider) or 4 letters; if letter, the first letter depicts aircraft type category; some military/prototype aircraft were registered in the D-9500 to D-9999 series during the 1960s; no other rules exist, concerning:
  • special purpose/prototype/evaluation,
  • location.
Remarks: A total of 9999 sailplanes/glider and 26 * 26 * 26 = 17,576 aircraft in each other type category could be registered at any given time. There are not many civil registered 'war-birds' in Germany, because private individuals are not allowed to possess any armed or ex- military aircraft (exceptions exist). There are some W.W.II era aircraft, like a Ju-52/3m owned by Lufthansa Traditionsflug (a transport plane), and the MBB (now Daimler-Benz Aerospace) owned Me 109, but those are company-owned and not private aircraft.

Disclaimer: No warranty or claims are made or implied regarding the accuracy or worthiness of the information databases included or linked to via the Landings site. We are doing the best we can to ensure accurate information, however, the actual data may not be accurate, up-to-date, or it may be faulty to begin with (If you find formatting problems, please let us know, but if you find inaccuracies please contact the source). Use these sources at your own risk. The FAA is the primary authority as to the "real" information.

Additional Prefix Resources
  • Registration Prefixes: This database contains all known International Registration Prefixes for aircraft, sorted by Country Name.
  • Registration Prefixes: This database contains all known International Registration Prefixes for aircraft, sorted by Prefix Name.

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