Contradicting information about 'Flight of x' in callsign

I think we both were wrong @Jan_Polet

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One final question. How does ATC know which one is the lead?
Let’s say you’re on your way from EGLL to EGBB and somewhere along the way Birmingham Approach becomes active? Is the lead always in front? So if the they change places there’s another lead?

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My above replies are just how I learned it, so I am sorry if my information was wrong.

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Ideally, you would have:

Hawk 1 Flight of 4
Hawk 2 Flight of 4
Hawk 3 Flight of 4
Hawk 4 Flight of 4

Hawk 1 is lead. Technically others are just referred to as Hawk 2, 3, 4 without the Flight on the end. ATC may refer to the flight as Hawk Flight, Hawk Flight of 4, or address the lead directly.


Makes sense!

In IF they don’t need to have the same callsign. So how does it work?
When both aircraft have ‘Flight of 2’ as a suffix. Who’s the lead?

In IF you can make your callsigns whatever you want. You can also land an A380 on a municipal dirt strip. It doesn’t mean it is right.

I understand, but since we can do it right, I’d like to know how.
The example in the tutorial had two aircraft with different callsigns and both of them had ‘Flight of 2’ as a suffix. How do you know who the lead is?

It would be whichever contacts ATC and says they are flight of 2. ATC will then refer to the flight by that callsign.

You guys decide that between your selves but only one contacts. Typically the person in front

Sure, but that’s not what I meant.
Let’s say you’re on your way from EGLL to EGBB and somewhere along the way Birmingham Approach becomes active!
Approach will send the following message: “You’re in an active airspace. Please contact Burmingham Approach at [frequency]”. But to which aircraft? How will Approach know who’s the lead?

Honestly, in my own opinion as a controller, I don’t really care who in the flight contacts me- I just need to know if you guys are in a group or not. Whoever decides to tune into ATC and request services for the group is the one who will stay in touch with the controller at all times- throw some dice, draw the short stick, or play rock, papers, scissors on who is going to contact me- whatever floats your boat.

I wouldn’t melt some synapses and worry too much about this- we, as controllers, will usually be able to tell if you’re flying with others (clues give it away), so we’ll work you guys in as best as we can. The “flight of” system can get confusing for some people, but ultimately, as long as you can get the point across in some sort of way, you’ll be fine. No worries.

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You guys should all be on the frequency to hear the instructions but only one makes the calls ;)


So Approach might call one of them, who’s not the lead. The one contacted is able to answer by choosing one of the amber colored options. The lead doesn’t have that option since he wasn’t contacted.

This is just an unfortunate unrealistic limitation in IF.

Yes, I understand that.
How do you work around it?
What’s the right procedure when it happens?

Just as @Brandon_Sandstrom and @StikLover2 said, whoever is contacted should respond to ATC. I guess they would now be the lead.

The correct way is to have everyone in the flight with the same callsign in ascending order, tagged with the correct number in the flight.


Thunder01 Flight of 4
Thunder02 Flight of 4
Thunder03 Flight of 4
Thunder04 Flight of 4

When flying, only Thunder01 is communicating with ATC or the UNICOM, although the entire flight is tuned into that frequency so they can follow the instructions. When ATC is working this flight, they’re treated as one aircraft and they’re responsible for their own separation within the flight. If they want to land side by side, one by one, close in trail, etc, that’s up to them. They may land on the runway at the same time. For separation purposes, you’re separating from the lead and trail aircraft.

Although there are many different ways a formation may be configured, they still must remain within a certain set of boundaries.

Standard Formation: Within 1NM laterally and 1000ft vertically from the flight lead.
Non-Standard Formation: Anything other than standard.

Hope this helps clear things up!