How do I know the aircraft registration number for a future flight?

If I use Flightradar24, it won’t show me the aircraft registration for future flights. The flight number is the same but the registration number is different, why is it so? I thought the aircraft registration will remain unchanged?

FlightRadar24 shows me the flight for tomorrow including the registration number. Also, the airline doesn’t have standard registration number for specific routes because then the airline will have too few planes.

Scheduling is very complicated with major airlines having hundreds if not thousands of routes with hundreds of planes. Therefore it is most cost effective for an airline to rotate planes round to ensure they are always in the air for the highest time possible. That is why it is always different, in regard to not publishing on FR24 what the reg will be that could be for a couple of reasons. Some airlines won’t share their scheduling data with FR24 therefore they only know what plane will be used when it is on the route. Or due to maintenance issues another plane may have to be bought in at the last minute so to stop Av geeks complaining it’s not the special livery or aircraft they had specifically booked they don’t share it.


So, 2 aircraft with the same flight numbers but have different registration numbers are 2 different aircrafts? Can one aircraft have one flight registration for a day and change its registration the next day?

An aircraft is defined by its registration number. Each and every aircraft has a unique one. Similarly each route will have a unique flight number. It is impossible for two aircraft flying in the world today to have the same registration. Aircraft will change the flight number they fly daily but not their registration.


Can someone explain this mind-boggling scenario?

An aircraft with flight number SQ600 with a valid registration leaves Singapore for Seoul. The next day, another aircraft with the same flight number but with a different registration flies the same route. Is it possible that the earlier aircraft will have to change its flight number to fly back to Singapore? Can it do maintenance there?

The aircraft has the registration mark, the route has the route designator.

Often aircraft are swapped and changed right up to the last minute due delays or technical defects.

Also different config aircraft of the same aircraft family might be used so a service (flight number) due to operate with a first class cabin that has no first class seats sold may be subbed out last minute to an aircraft which has no first class cabin.

It changes all the time even for us operating!

It will change registration for the return flight. This is how it always works. So SQ600 will be Singapore to Seoul. Then SQ609 is the return flight. If urgent maintenance is required then they will usually send a spare plane to Seoul on a separate flight number and that will fly SQ609.

The flight out will have one flight number and the flight back will have another. For example Concorde out to JFK was the Speedbird 1 and the return flight the Speedbird 2.

If the aircraft is on the ground for a rotation in a destination where there are multiple flights a day then the flight numbers can be swapped to different registration aircraft.

For a further example an airline might operate 2 flights a day to Hong Kong. Aircraft A flies the early flight with the callsign ‘Air 1’. Aircraft B flies the later flight with the Callsign ‘Air 3’. Due to parking restrictions ‘Air 1’ has been towed to remote parking. As ‘Air 3’ arrives close to the departure time of ‘Air 2’ then aircraft B is now designated the callsign ‘Air 2’ and flies the return leg. Aircraft A is then towed back onto stand to take up the later ‘Air 4’ service.

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If many airlines operate more than one flight, will the airport be able to accommodate every aircraft?

Yep otherwise they wouldn’t be granted the landing slots at the destination.

Often they are towed to remote parking.

That being said, major airports like EGLL, WSSS, KJFK, KLAX, RKSI and YSSY are huuugggeee af!

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