WHY ‘N’? – Jeff Hill Sr.

Have you ever been sitting around an airport checking our airplanes and have wondered how to decipher the origins and registration numbers on a specific airplane?  There is a little bit of history behind how aircraft registrations came about.  Here are a few tidbits of information to perhaps better understand aircraft registries.

How did the U.S. end up with ‘N’ instead of ‘US,’ or some other designation, as the prefix for our civilian aircraft registration numbers? After all, Sweden has ‘SE’, Great Britain uses ‘G’, Germany has ‘D’ (Deutschland), and France has ‘F’”.

The origin of the “N” designation in the U.S. registration can be traced back to the Commission Internationale de Navigation Aerienne (CINA) – This was established during the Convention for the Regulation of Air Navigation which was part of the Paris Peace Conference following World War I. A part of this conference was the adoption of the Convention for the Regulation of Air Navigation that laid the foundation of the system of international aircraft identification still in use today.

For a more complete rundown on how the “N” number designation came about, check out this article.

Speaking of registration numbers, have you ever wondered how to look up information on a US registered airplane that you might see at an airport?  The FAA’s Aircraft Registry can be viewed at on this link.  Check it out.  You can often learn a lot about different airplane types as you observe aircraft in the sky and on the ground.