Previously, only turboprops bore HB-A registrations. Now the Swiss authorities are also classifying large commercial aircraft like that. There is a shortage of available registrations.
They’re like license plates for planes. Aircraft registrations can be used to uniquely identify any aircraft in the world. The alphanumeric code always begins with the country code (such as D for Germany, N for the USA or G for the United Kingdom). Separated by a hyphen, it is followed by the national registration, which can consist of letters and numbers.
In Switzerland, there is a strict system for aircraft registration numbers. The first letter after the country code HB- indicates in which category an aircraft belongs. HB-B stands for hot air balloons, HB-C for Cessnas, HB-X and HB-Z for helicopters, and so on. HB-A stands for twin-engine turboprops with a maximum take-off weight between 5.7 and 15 tons.
Not enough J’s left
Or rather: it did stand for that. The Swiss aviation authority has had to adapt the strict regulation. Recently, ATR 72 from Zimex Aviation with a maximum take-off weight of 22 tons were classified as HB-A by the Bundesamt für Zivilluftfahrt Bazl (Federal Office of Civil Aviation). The first Embraer E190-E2 from Helvetic Airways with 54 tons also recently received HB-A registration: HB-AZA. Big jets like that usually get HB-I and HB-J.
There is a good reason for the exceptions to the rule. «Since there weren’t many free license plates with J left, we unfortunately couldn’t give Helvetic Airways this option,» a spokesman for the Federal Office of Civil Aviation told aeroTELEGRAPH. The airline will add twelve of the new planes to its fleet.
More cases like that
Besides HB-I and HB-J, HB-A is «the only letter used for commercial aircraft», and therefore «we have decided to attach the E190- E2 there», says the BAZL-spokesman. This ist likely to happen even more often in the future, because the growth in aviation is leading to a shortage of license plates.