Change Indian Aircraft nationality mark 'VT' to remove 'Queen Victoria' Tag

Change Indian Aircraft nationality mark 'VT' to remove 'Queen Victoria' Tag

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Petition to
Hon'ble Minister, Civil Aviation Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia

Why this petition matters

Started by Amit Singh

Jai Hind,

Fellow citizens, this petition has a common interest for all and that is to get rid of the colonial tag which every Indian registered aircraft bears as a mark of nationality.

In 1912 as a commemoration of the recent death of Queen Victoria, the callsign letter V was used as a prefix to the nationality mark on aircraft in many Commonwealth countries. E.g. The nationality mark for Australia was G but was changed to VH. Similarly British India was allocated VT.

Australia was sharing the letter 'G' which had been allocated to Great Britain but in 1912, Australia was moved to using 'VH' as a nationality mark on her aircraft.

Nationality marking of Australia was changed from 'G' to 'V' and the history is available in the link.

Aircraft registered in India bear the mark "VT" which is the nationality mark affixed or painted thereon. We need to change this mark to another mark to get rid of the colonial past (V for Victoria) that has been tagging our sovereign nation, since 1919 when it was allocated to India under the country name "British India".

The fact is that the markings were regulated by a Convention Relating to the Regulation of Aerial Navigation, signed in 1919 (“Paris Convention”). Chapter II – Nationality of Aircraft and Annex A to the Paris Convention described the rules and specifications for aircraft nationality and registration.

Section VII, Identification Plate

All aircraft shall carry affixed to the car ( or basket ) or to the fuselage in a prominent position a metal plate , inscribed with the names and residence of the owner and the marks of nationality and registration.

Section VIII, Table of Marks

The marks allocated to each State apply to the aircraft of its Colonies , Protectorates and Dependencies or of countries governed by it under a mandate of the League of Nations , unless individual marks are allocated to them in the Table of marks .

Section IX, Call sign

The nationality and registration marks of an aircraft and its call sign shall be identical . 

The fact is that "VT" is not identical to the post independence nationality for India. India was clubbed with all the British colonies, Protectorates and Dependencies, all of which were allocated the marking beginning with letter "V", which the rest of the group elects to maintain till date. The table of markings in Annex A lists India as " Indes Britanniques" in French which translates to "British India", the Mark as "VT" followed by 3 letter combination.

A list of all countries starting with the letter "V" is given later in the petition.

Since the mark "I" is allocated to Italy, India must change the aircraft marking to another one under the provision of ICAO Annex 7 which gives the state the right to choose the nationality marking. The mark 'IN' and "BH" have been allocated to Italy and China country.

The Government of India has been unable to determine the source of this nationality mark on the aircraft. After extensive research, I have found the source of the prefix V as a nationality mark that the government machinery couldn't do in 75 years with all their resources put together.

The International Telecommunication Union assigns call signs to all radio operators , HAM radio operators and other radio users. Nationality marking is painted on the aircraft body and the call sign is allocated to the radio user and the two have a common link wherein the first or the first two letters of the radio call sign are also used as the nationality mark on the aircraft. For example, former prime minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi who was an avid amateur HAM radio user had been allocated the callsign for his radio as "VU2RG", Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar call sign 'VU2 RCI', Mr Amitabh Bachchan call sign "VU2 AMY".

The nationality however remains VT followed by a 3 letter combination from AAA-ZZZ for aircraft and HAA-HZZ for helicopters in India.

The government was ill advised about the subject by their experts and the statement made in the parliament on this issue was out of context and poorly drafted.

Parliament Question and Answer.

There has been a lot of discussion on the subject and the origin of the mark VT. Finally the Government of India made a statement in the Parliament on 20th Dec 2021 to a question from Mr. Harnath Singh Yadav "whether Government has taken cognizance of the fact that during the British Rule, the aircraft of India had been given the VT code, by the International Air Transport Association which means "Viceroy Territory", if so, the details thereof; (b) whether Government has taken any action for acquiring any code displaying nationalism (Indian sentiments) to replace "VT", the symbol of slavery;" stating the following:

Answer by Hon'ble Minister

"International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has allotted three series of call signs to India i.e. ATA-AWZ, VTA-VWZ and 8TA-8YZ. Call sign could be the 1st one or two letters of the series. As per the provisions of Annex 7 of the Chicago Convention, our country had the options to choose its call sign from above three series for Indian registered aircraft. The call sign VT was assigned to India during International Radiotelegraph convention of Washington, 1927 signed at Washington on 25th November 1927. "VT" does not mean "Viceroy Territory" and call signs close to India or Bharat such as I, IN, B, BH, BM or HT are already assigned to other countries. However, if VT call sign is changed, all documents have to be reissued, aircraft will have to be repainted and cannot fly till such time that all markings are changed. The aircraft will remain grounded during the whole process and will also have a huge financial implication on the airlines and the civil aviation sector."

 Background and current international standards

The concept of nationality for aircraft was adapted from maritime law where the national flag is used to indicate a ship’s country of registration. The issues of aircraft nationality and registration were considered during the International Air Navigation Conference held in Paris in 1910. Despite the absence of a final signed agreement at the end of that Conference, the principles of the nationality of aircraft and its registration were formally incorporated into a Convention Relating to the Regulation of Aerial Navigation, signed in 1919 (“Paris Convention”). Chapter II – Nationality of Aircraft and Annex A to the Paris Convention described the rules and specifications for aircraft nationality and registration.

Nowadays, the principles of aircraft nationality are reflected in the Convention on International Civil Aviation (“Chicago Convention”). Pursuant to the Chicago Convention, aircraft have the nationality of the State in which they are registered. All aircraft engaged in international air navigation shall bear appropriate nationality and registration marks in order to permit identification. Annex 7 – Aircraft Nationality and Registration Marks sets out Standards and Recommended Practices for the allocation, assignment and display of nationality, registration and common marks. It also sets the format of the certificate of registration.

In accordance with Annex 7, the nationality mark is selected by States from the series of nationality symbols included in the radio call signs allocated to the State of Registry by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Once the nationality mark is selected, the State notifies ICAO. The registration mark is assigned by the State of Registry and comprises of letters, numbers, or a combination of letters and numbers.

Current list of registration marking of states beginning with the letter 'V'.

VH Australia

VP-A Anguilla (United Kingdom)
VP-B, VQ-B Bermuda (United Kingdom)
VP-C Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)
VP-F Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (United Kingdom)
VP-G Gilbraltar (United Kingdom)
VP-L Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
VP-M Montserrat (United Kingdom)
VQ-H St. Helena/Ascension (United Kingdom)
VQ-B, VP-B Bermuda (United Kingdom)
VQ-T Turks and Caicos (United Kingdom)
VT India
V2 Antigua and Barbuda
V3 Belize
V4 Saint Kitts and Nevis
V5 Namibia
V6 Micronesia (Federated States of)
V7 Marshall Islands
V8 Brunei Darussalam

Finally, 'VT' may not stand for 'Victoria Territory' or 'Viceroy territory' but it  represents the colony of Britain by the name 'British India' and is a prefix allocated to commemorate the death of Queen Victoria (V). This tag must be deleted.

It is a one time exercise and display of nationalism. 

Jai Hind

Capt. Amit Singh FRAeS

Capt. Jagjit Sandhu


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