NASA’s Ingenuity is no longer just the world’s most expensive hobby helicopter. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has given an official flight designator and call-sign codes for the robotic rotorcraft and the Wright Brothers Field in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet.
The US$85 million Ingenuity made history when it lifted off from the floor of Jezero Crater on April 19, but it still looked like an aerospace engineering student project, it also had as little official recognition.
Now, the ICAO has told NASA and the US FAA that it has given Ingenuity and Wright Brothers Field, where it operates from, official designations. The first flight has been given Ingenuity the IGY three-letter designator and the call sign INGENUITY. In addition, Wright Brothers Field is designated as JZRO for Jezero Crater. These have been assigned by the ICAO’s Designators for Aircraft Operating Agencies, Aeronautical Authorities and Services to NASA.
Beyond recognition of the innovation and incredible achievement of taking flight on another planet, there’s not much use for a call sign on Mars – at least not for a while yet. If there were any other aircraft on the Red Planet, the designators would be used by Martian air traffic control, if there was one, and would show the Ingenuity is operating with a government agency or in an international operation. In addition, JZRO is an airfield and would be used for flight planning applications.