ICAOs explained

Now that global is here, we have the entire world at our fingertips to fly at. There are constant posts left and right regarding events and the opening/closing of ATC frequencies. Have you ever wondered, where is that airport at? Wonder no more…

The ICAO airport code or location indicator is a four-letter code designating aerodromes around the world. These codes are defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning.

Look at the first letter of the airport code and that will correspond to a particular country/area. That should help you to find out where the airport is located. For example, in the continental United States, all airports start with the letter K. Hawaii you will notice starts with the letter P. S for South America, Y for Australia, and so on. Some areas use the first two characters to identify the region (see 2nd picture/link).

Larger picture HERE
Thanks to Google, and Wikipedia.


Might be worth explaining this a little more Chris.

Ye, what do all the letters stand for?

Sorry my post cut it off, I added it.


Cool topic. I think that information will benefit a lot of people!

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Very informative topic, thanks Chris :).

this helps alot, thank you for posting this, I didn’t know it was this simple.
I thought it was rocket science.

Also, some areas have a two letter location, example: Hawaii - PH and Alaska - PA.


Yep - although they are still part of the P area, e.g Northern Europe is the E area, but England is EG, Germany ED, Belgium EB, Holland EH, etc


That’s what I was saying

I edited and added that info, thanks!

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@Chris_S. MaxSez: Ya beat me to publishing Chris, all the bases covered.
Suggest those Fledlings with out a good grasps of world geography download ICAO 7910 or the Google Seach ICAO Airport Codes and load it in memory for ready recall. The IF Global Chart does not display National Boundries, utilizing the ICAO Codes with a handy Code List your able to identify geo locations, FIR’s and oriantate with ease. Here’s another Well Done Flag Set Chris!!!



This is kinda weird. Let’s try & decipher some codes McKay.
EGLL. E=N. Europe, G=Great Brian, L=London (both times because it’s the main airport.)
EGLC. EGL=ditto, C=City
KIAD. WTF K=USA, IAD doesn’t say anything about Northern Virginia. It’s just the IATA code. Why do all USA airport use the IATA code instead of something to do with it’s location. WHY! A better code for Dulles would be KVWD. K=USA, V=Virginia W=Washington, D=Dulles. So that makes sense.

That’s not how ICAOs work 😉. The 1st 1 or 2 letters are an area code but the last 3/4 are not dependent on anything. In the US, the last 3 are the airport’s IATA, but in England, they are not anything specific

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Trivia time: What is the main, if only group of countries to share the first 2 letters of their ICAO’s?

England Scotland and NI if you count them as seperate countries (tho obviously not seperate sovereignty states)?

There are also exceptions to the rule, such as SAR (Special Administrative Regions) Macau and Hong Kong, which are technically part of China, but for ICAO codes they use V.

That’s really cool, thanks

Is there a website which converts IATA codes to it’s ICAO counterpart? Since I’m more familiar with IATA codes. I know for the US its just K-IATA code. But for the rest of the world it’s a bit confusing and will take some time to remember the smaller airport names.

Nope, the answer was the Central Asia region (Turkmen-, Uzbek- Tajik- Kyrgyz- istan)

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