Aircraft Description (ICAO Doc 8643)

Aircraft Description (ICAO Doc 8643)


ICAO Doc 8643 provides data on aircraft such as the Manufacturer, Model, Type designator, etc. One of the items is called Description and is a three-symbol code containing basic data about the aircraft:

  • The first symbol describes the aircraft type:
    • L - Landplane, e.g. A320. Note: A floatplane, which can temporarily be converted to a landplane or vice versa, is described as a landplane and not a seaplane or amphibian in ICAO Doc 8643.
    • S - Seaplane, e.g. HARBIN SH-5 (ICAO designator SH5)
    • A - Amphibian, e.g. LA4
    • G - Gyrocopter, e.g. A002
    • H - Helicopter, e.g. A109
    • T - Tiltrotor, e.g. V22
  • The second symbol specifies the number of engines 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 or C, where C means that two engines are coupled to drive a single propeller system (e.g. C08T). The C symbol is only used for fixed-wing aircraft.
  • The third symbol specifies the engine type:
    • J - jet
    • T - turboprop/turboshaft
    • P - piston
    • E - electric
    • R - rocket


  • L2J - a landplane with two jet engines
  • H2T - a helicopter with two turboprop/turboshaft engines
  • S1P - a seaplane with one piston engine

Related Articles

  • ICAO Wake Turbulence Category
  • Approach Speed Categorisation

Further Reading

  • ICAO Doc 8643
  • ICAO: Aircraft Type Designators, online version of ICAO Doc 8643 (Note: The database is regularly updated and contains more than 10,000 aircraft. It may take some time to load.)

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