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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