by Aviationer || Category: Airlines, Airplanes

The SELCAL system or Selective Calling system, commonly used in aeronautical communications, is a multiple system that allows the radio ground-based operator to send a signal to the aircraft that wants to establish a communication. In other words, when an ATC want to talk with an airplane flying over the ocean, he pushes a button and the airplane’s crew receive a message. That is kind of worthy in oceanic routes, where HF (High Frequency) communications give a lot of background noise, and pilots usually turn off the squelch until they receive this signal.


In order to identify each single aircraft, a SELCAL code is assigned to each one. This code is made by 2 pairs of letters (using from “A” to “S” excluding “I” and “O”) and each letter has an assigned frequency. Then, when the operator wants to talk with that aircraft, a 4-tone signal is sent with those letters. Everybody who is in that frequency will hear that sound, but only the one with that code will receive a sound alert (bling-blong-like sound) and a light alert.

There are 10920 different SELCAL codes. That’s the reason why there are duplicate codes (two airplanes, same code). Only airplanes operating oceanic routes use that system though. So, when a duplicate code exists, they make certain that those airplanes will operate in widely separate parts of the world.

ARINC (Aeronautical Radio Inc.) issues these codes in the US. You can find real-world SELCAL codes in this website just entering the registration number.

(No Ratings Yet)
 Loading …

3 Comments so far

  1. All Aviation Info.Com » Blog Archive » The SELCAL Code December 3rd, 2008 5:52 pm

    […] In order to identify each single aircraft, a SELCAL code is assigned to each one. This code is made by 2 pairs of letters … Excerpt from:The SELCAL Code […]

  2. joe December 29th, 2008 6:58 am

    In ref to the statement: “Only airplanes operating oceanic routes use that system though.”

    This is incorrect. SELCAL can be and is used throughout the world not just on oceanic routes.

    Also- SELCAL can be used on both UHF and VHF freqs. The SELCAL monitoring device on the aircraft monitors all the freqs currently tuned on the flightdeck. if it detects its specific code it will alert the flight crew and indicate which radio it was detected on. then the crew will report on that frequency : “this is PanAm 123 responding to SELCAL”. The flight crew will then communicate with the facility who summoned them.

  3. Aviationer December 29th, 2008 1:59 pm

    Hey there.
    First of all thx for commenting something. Really appreciate.

    I’m aware that SELCAL device is used because of the high level background noise on HF comms. Pilots using these freq (oceanic and undeveloped countries) turn of the squelch and when they hear that sound they reply. I can’t see any useful application in VHF (I’ve never seen that) or UHF(?¿).

    Cya later!

Leave a comment

name (required)

email ( non sarà visibile ) (required)

sito web


Crossing the Skies © powered by WordPress || Theme by Mukkamu

Leave a Comment