PALS New Call Sign

Reminders on the proper usage of our PALS HOPE "PLZ" call sign from the Pilot and Safety Committee:

  • The only call sign to be used on a PALS flight is “PLZ” aka “PALS HOPE.” This call sign can be used while the patient/passenger is onboard the aircraft and only for the leg that the patient is onboard the aircraft. It cannot be used otherwise.
  • Your transponder must match your assigned call sign. If you were assigned “PLZ123” and you file your flight plan using your call sign as PLZ123, your transponder must match.  Please see your transponder manual for instructions on how to change it, or contact your trusted avionics shop for directions. Please remember to change back to your normal “N” number after the PALS leg.    Per the FAA: “Aircraft Identification – The proper use of authorized call signs and telephonies is essential to ensuring the safety and security of the NAS by providing distinct aircraft identification for ATC. The authorized call sign designator, together with a flight number, serves as the aircraft identification for the ATC system and is used instead of the aircraft registration number for ATC security and operational purposes. The FAA authorized telephony, when stated in conjunction with the flight number, serves as the aircraft identification in radio communications with ATC.”
  • If your transponder cannot be reprogrammed, you must use the N number of the aircraft both in the flight plan and in the telephony with ATC.
  • For PALS Pilots flying PALS flights, usage of “Compassion Flight or CMF” is NOT to be used. PALS is a member of the Air Care Alliance, however, PALS has our own unique call sign, and PALS is not authorized to use CMF which is unique to those Volunteer Pilot Organizations which are authorized under the Air Care Alliance. You are not permitted to fly a PALS flight using an unauthorized call sign. From the FAA: ” FAA ATO must ensure that every call sign is properly authorized, clearly related to the type of operation permitted, and is used within the NAS in accordance with its authorization.” PALS is responsible for making sure that call signs are properly utilized and can be cited for violations of improper usage
  • If you are not sure of your call sign PLZ number, are a new pilot to PALS or would simply like more information, please contact the PALS office at 631-694-7257

PALS New Call Sign

PALS has been assigned a unique ICAO call sign to be used for PALS missions, PALS HOPE.  

The 3 letter designator (3LD) for air/ground communications will be PLZ followed by a unique number assigned by PALS based on your PALS Member ID. You can find your number in the Pilot Community or day-of flight email which includes your itinerary.

The call sign and instructions for use of the call sign were issued by the FAA.


To use the new call sign:

File your flight plan with your PALS call sign PLZ426 (for example), and put PALS HOPE and your usual tail number, for example, N345GW in the Remarks.

Change the transponder ADS-B Flight ID to PLZ426

– File a flight plan with whatever software you are currently using.

– For instructions on how to change the ADS-B Flight ID consult the following:

Your shutdown procedure should include changing the Flight ID back to the previous setting. For rental aircraft, it is imperative that you change the call sign back to the previous setting.
This ICAO call sign shall be spoken in group form, i.e. PLZ426 spoken as PALS HOPE FOUR TWENTY SIX
The call sign shall be used only on the passenger carrying leg of the mission and only for PALS flights

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can we drop the HOPE from PALS HOPE?

A. FAA rules state it should not be a one-syllable word, typically 2 to 3 syllables is best

Q. Why can’t it be PALS FLIGHT?
A. FAA rules prohibit the word FLIGHT

Q. How did PALS choose the PLZ and PALS HOPE?
A. There are over 5,000 3LD Designators already in use. We needed to choose one that was not in use.

Q. The ATC called it PALS or PALS FLIGHT, can I call it PALS or PALS FLIGHT?
A. For the first call out, you should use PALS HOPE. If Controller truncates, you can repeat back what they said. This is new for the controllers, they may not have updated telephony codes. It will not cause issues if they call you PALS, and they will get used to the PALS HOPE.

Q. I forgot to listen for PALS HOPE – I need to get used to it.
A. It may take time for you to grow accustomed to listening for the new call sign. If you do not respond, the controller may say “Papa Lima Zulu” to get your attention. The more you use it, it will grow on you. You may want to keep a Post-it on the dashboard while you are starting to use it.

Q. How are the air traffic controllers made aware of the new call signs?
A. Air traffic controllers mostly become aware of new call signs through usage. New call signs are added all the time. Call signs are kept in a book and digital information system.

Q. Can we change our call sign number? Can we use fewer digits than what is assigned?
A. No. These numbers were assigned based on PALS member ID. We have to be able to provide frequent updates to FAA of the call sign numbers, and this system is the simplest way to ensure recordkeeping and compliance.

Q. What if the plane is rented?
A. You can reach out to the place you rent the plane from and ask them to add the function on the transponder to change the call sign. At least one pilot has had success with this.

Q. What if I change the call sign in the flight plan, but not in the transponder?
A. They must be the same. This is a very important requirement. You should not change the call sign in the flight plan without changing the transponder – you will not be ADSB compliant.

Q. Do I have to use my PALS call sign? What is the benefit to using it?
A. You do not need to use it if you do not want to. Some pilots report getting more direct routing based on using the call sign, which can be helpful if the passenger is uncomfortable. This is a courtesy. The call sign does not give you emergency routing. If you are unable to change your transponder, please do not use it in the flight plan.

Q. How to file flight plan with the new call sign?
A. There are a few ways.

  • File with tail number, flight plan in ID put PLZ####
  • File under PLZ###, remarks PALS HOPE N####
  • In, enter call sign PLZ### and put in the remarks PALS HOPE and the tail number N#####

Here are the FAA Rules for Choosing a Call Sign that PALS had to follow:

Among other rules, telephony is further vetted by ICAO and FAA to confirm it:

  • Is not already in use
  • Is not similar-sounding to telephony already in use –ex. BIG BEND/BIG BEN
  • Is not socially or politically controversial or offensive
  • Is not similar to known real or fictional military or government call signs –ex. Ghostrider, Maverick, Night Hawk, etc.
  • Is not the brand name of an aircraft –ex. Global Hawk, Cessna, Piper, Raptor, Eagle, etc.
  • Is not the name of a mascot (names like Buckeye, Sun Devils, and Cowboy are invariably in use already by local, state, or federal government, law enforcement, or the military, and may even be trademarked names)
  • Does not contain words or phraseology used in ATC communications –ex. Flight, Turn, Climb, Descend, Fly, Takeoff, Cleared, etc.
  • Does not contain any numbers
  • Does not contain the words “WING” or “FLIGHT.”
  • Does not contain the name of any City, County or State that is also part of the name of an ATC Call Sign -ex. BOSTON TOWER, BOSTON APPROACH, and BOSTON CENTER are ATC Call Signs, so a request for a Call Sign like BOSTON JET cannot be approved
  • Is not a one-syllable word, typically 2 to 3 syllables is best
  • Can be easily read, understood, and spoken by non-native English speakers
  • Complements the requested 3LD, if possible – ex. GRN/GRANDE, YEL/YELLOWSTONE
  • 3LD is not already taken and does not match any major airport 3LD or major VOR, and does not contain any numbers.