When to use Super and Heavy suffixes in Call Sign.

Read the dialogues below:

The “heavy” and “super” designations after a call sign is a US thing only. Overseas they don’t use anything other than the airline name and flight number with ATC. The “Qantas 12 Super” that leaves LAX tonight will be “Qantas 12” with Sydney on arrival. As for why we use it and others don’t, I have no idea… maybe someone else does though.

Source: http://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=762427

I’m afraid you’re not completely correct there. The wake turbulence categories are defined by ICAO by and large, and are used in the separation of aircraft - they are more than just something which gets added on the end of a call sign, so even if an aircraft isn’t required to append its wake turbulence category to its call sign, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a wake turbulence category.

Here in Australia the details are given in AIP ENR 1.4.9. Super (J) is defined as “A380 Aircraft”, whereas Heavy (H) is defined as “All other types of a 136,000 KG maximum take off weight or more”. I’m pretty sure this is in line with the ICAO definitions. You are required to append “Heavy” or “Super” to your call sign on initial contact with approach or tower (this requirement is repeated in AIP GEN

When Qantas 12 contacts Sydney Approach on arrival, it will indeed be “Qantas 12 Super”. Now, I believe the difference with the USA is that we are not required to continue appending the call sign with the wake turbulence category after initial contact.

I would speculate that “SUPER” applies to the A380 now because controllers have more to worry about than just separation for wake turbulence. As one example, if an A380 declares an emergency and requests a diversion, a controller would be well-suited to know it is an A380 with its enormous turning radius on the ground. While it might land safely on a particular runway length, it might not be able to exit that runway if the taxiway connectors are not filleted or wide enough for its gear.

Wake turbulence and separation

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide-body_aircraft

Aircraft are categorized by ICAO according to the wake turbulence they produce. Because wake turbulence is generally related to the weight of an aircraft, these categories are based on one of four weight categories: light, medium, heavy, and super.

Due to their weight, all current wide-body aircraft are categorized as heavy, **or in the case of the A380 in U.S. airspace, super.

A wide-body aircraft is a jet airliner with a fuselage wide enough to accommodate two passenger aisles, also known as twin-aisle aircraft, with seven or more seats abreast. The typical fuselage diameter is 5 to 6 m (16 to 20 ft). In the typical wide-body economy cabin, passengers are seated seven to ten abreast, allowing a total capacity of 200 to 850 passengers.

By comparison, a typical narrow-body airliner has a diameter of 3 to 4 m (10 to 13 ft), with a single aisle, and seats between two and six people abreast.

Wide-body aircraft are also used for the transport of commercial freight and cargo and other special uses.

The biggest wide-body aircraft are known as jumbo jets due to their very large size; examples include the Boeing 747 (“jumbo jet”), Airbus A380 (“superjumbo jet”), and upcoming Boeing 777X (“mini jumbo jet”). The phrase, “jumbo jet”, derives from Jumbo, a famous circus elephant in the 19th century.

The wide-body age began in 1970 with the entry into service of the first wide-body airliner, the four-engined, partial double-deck Boeing 747.[16] New trijet wide-body aircraft soon followed, including the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. The first wide-body twinjet, the Airbus A300, entered service in 1974. This period came to be known as the “wide-body wars”

The wake-turbulence category also is used to guide the separation of aircraft. Super- and heavy-category aircraft require greater separation behind them than those in other categories. In some countries, such as the United States, it is a requirement to suffix the aircraft’s call sign with the word heavy (or super) when communicating with air traffic control in certain areas.


I think super is also used for the AN225. I might be wrong.

(although it isn’t even in IF so I don’t think we have to worry about it)


The 757 also uses the Heavy appendix. It’s MTOW is less than the required level, but has ad issues with it’s wake turbulence affecting other aircraft.

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So far I found out these ones can use the suffixes as of below:

B777 family
B787 family
B747 family

Super: A380


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