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Canadian air force investigating 'inappropriate and unapproved' call sign broadcast on U.K. flight

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is investigating an ‘inappropriate and unapproved’ call sign that was transmitted electronically from one of its aircraft on Monday.

RCAF identifiers, otherwise known as call signs, contain four letters and two numbers. They are assigned to pilots and usually remain unchanged, but on Monday it appeared one was tweaked when a CF-18 Hornet on a flight in the United Kingdom was broadcast globally as ‘D*CK69.’

In a statement issued Monday a spokesperson for RCAF told CTV News Toronto they were “aware of an inappropriate and unapproved aircraft identifier that was transmitted electronically by one of our CF-18 Hornets currently deployed to the United Kingdom.”

The circumstances behind the change remain unclear. The RCAF said it could not provide further details as the incident remains under investigation.

A CF-18 Hornet flight in the United Kingdom broadcast the call sign 'D*CK69' on Monday in an incident under investigation by the Royal Canadian Air Force (Adsbexchange flight tracker)

The blunder drew attention online later Monday morning after being shared to X, formerly Twitter. The post garnered more than 10,000 views in about six hours.

“In a globally publicly viewable demonstration of poor judgment and lack of situational awareness, a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot of a CF-188 Hornet seems to have set the plane's Mode-S transponder to broadcast a callsign of #DICK69, rather than their assigned callsign of BLDE11,” user Steffan Watkins wrote in the tweet.

Within its statement, the force said it expects all its members to display the “highest standard of integrity and professionalism, and to exercise good judgment at all times.”

As of 4 p.m. Monday, the identifier was still displaying on at least two flight tracking websites.

In 2022, two senior RCAF officers were handed reprimands and minor suspensions after an offensive call sign was assigned to another pilot.

With files from The Canadian Press. Top Stories

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