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Y do Canadian airport codes begin with a Y?

Travel Forums General Talk Y do Canadian airport codes begin with a Y?

1. Posted by Buzzcock (Full Member 178 posts) 5y

A curious and yes geekish question

And YYZ, did they run out? If TO gets another airport will it be YZZ?

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7274 posts) 5y

Dang--now I have the bass riff of the song YYZ in my head...

3. Posted by Buzzcock (Full Member 178 posts) 5y

Quoting tway

Dang--now I have the bass riff of the song YYZ in my head...

There's a song???

4. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7274 posts) 5y

Quoting Buzzcock

Quoting tway

Dang--now I have the bass riff of the song YYZ in my head...

There's a song???

By Rush (NOT my favourite band, but anyway). Found this on YouTube. Try not to get that baseline stuck in your head! PA-PA-PA-puh-PA-PA-PA...

5. Posted by Isadora (Moderator 13924 posts) 5y

This is the reason:

Some special interest groups successfully lobbied the government to obtain their own special letters. The Navy saved all the new 'N' codes. Naval aviators learn to fly at NPA in Pensacola, Florida and then dream of going to "Top Gun" in Miramar, California (NKX). The Federal Communications Committee set aside the 'W' and 'K' codes for radio stations east and west of the Mississippi respectively. 'Q' was designated for international telecommunications. 'Z' was reserved for special uses. The Canadians made off with all the remaining 'Y codes which helps explain YUL for Montreal, YYC for Calgary, etc. (The start of the the song YYZ by the band Rush is the Morse code for the letters Y Y Z. Rush is from Toronto.)

Source: Airport ABCs: An Explanation of Airport Identifier Codes

---------------

And what's wrong with Rush??? I happen to like some of their stuff. Okay, not all of it but...

6. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7274 posts) 5y

Quoting Isadora

And what's wrong with Rush??? I happen to like some of their stuff. Okay, not all of it but...

Three uber-talented musicians playing together make for stuff that's a bit too over my head. It's almost like nerd rock or something. Never liked it.

Plus my ex-b/f LOVED them, so maybe that doesn't help. ;)

7. Posted by Buzzcock (Full Member 178 posts) 5y

Thanks for the explanation, Isadora and the link, tway. The bassline hasn't stuck in my head. Maybe somewhere in Black Sabbath's catalogue they have one called BHX, though the bassline would probably pass over me as well.

8. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2634 posts) 5y

A little more on this. There are two types of codes for airports. The three letter code we are all familiar with is called a IATA code, and it is used for the movement of passengers. There is also a four letter code which is called the ICAO code. That is mostly used for flight operations.

The first two letters of the ICAO codes designate the country or the region. For Canada, codes CY, CW and CZ are all designates of Canadian airports. (Actually, technically it is designating the radio transmission broadcast for the navigation equipment). USA codes start with K or W (just like radio stations - thus the link to the radio towers at the airports). At the time, all airports in Canada with a weather station were given CYxx codes, all those without weather stations were given CW or CZ codes.

There is nothing that says ICAO codes and IATA codes have to be in any sort of alignment. Amsterdam's Schipol Airport is IATA AMS and ICAO EHAM (E for Europe, H for Holland, AM for Amsterdam), Heathrow is LHR on IATA and EGLL for the ICAO code.

Canada decided to keep things simple and use the same code for IATA and ICAO, but dropping the first letter in the ICAO code to get the three digit IATA code. That is why CYYZ becomes YYZ, CYVR becomes YVR, etc.

In general, the USA do the same thing (KORD / ORD is Chicago O'Hare, KLAX and LAX is Los Angeles), but because they have the entire range of Kxxx codes, they can be a little more varied in their naming.

Greg