What is shown at an airport arrival board if a flight is missing or has crashed?

Would they actually say crashed/lost, or simply something like delayed.

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    – JonathanReez
    Oct 12, 2017 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


There's no general standard; it depends on the airport's own procedures, how much information is available, and potentially a snap decision made by the airport manager on duty.

Here is an article, found by Googling “arrival board crashed”, with photos of arrival boards following some famous accidents.

The statuses shown in various cases include Delayed, Go To Info Counter, Cancelled, and nothing at all (blank status field).

  • 7
    It probably also depends on what the software they are using happens to support...
    – Jasper
    Oct 10, 2017 at 19:31
  • 30
    The system has worked! Googling arrival board crashed now points to this questions. Oct 10, 2017 at 20:10
  • 4
    Plz do not link to articles where they show NSFW articles in the sidebar
    – Ferrybig
    Oct 11, 2017 at 19:33
  • 10
    @Ferrybig: I have no control over which other articles they choose to sidebar at any given point in time. Oct 11, 2017 at 19:45
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    @Ferrybig the ads shown are likely chosen to match your recent browsing activity. For example I recently searched for a piece of software and the sidebars on that page are advertising that which I searched for! Maybe you should use private browsing when visiting certain sites in future to avoid your history being accessed by ad networks
    – Darren H
    Oct 12, 2017 at 6:30

TL/DR: What shows is derived from a combination of various data sources and the rules that apply to prioritization and other anomalies. Since, fortunately, aircraft loss is so rare, it is handled in non-standard ways and sometimes incorrectly.

It will depend on the operator of the display, where they get their data and what specific display rules they have in place.

The data itself are merged from:

  • Various government agencies, FAA/EuroControl
  • A GDS like Sabre
  • The airlines themselves
  • Commercial aggregators

The problem is that there is no accepted way to denote this type of situation. Also, it's not unusual that a particular flight drops from the ASDI or ACARS feed for harmless reasons, so the display operator should never assume a missing aircraft has crashed.

This is why it can take some time and have varying results in the situation. The display would never show "Crashed" or "Lost". First, that's just crazy; second, the display isn't free text, it's a code translation.

Much will depend on whose information takes priority. So, if a data supplier is relying only on government sources and the flight drops from the feed, it may just continue to use the last known values until the arrival time has passed, then assume a delay or just time out and get dropped from the display list. There are similar rules to detect diversions, turn-backs and other operations situations.

But if they also have a GDS or airline feed, they can show Cancelled or more specific information. This is also why you'll see differences between the information on boards, particularly between those operated by the airline and by the airport.

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    "the display isn't free text, it's a code translation." - it's not inconceivable that there could be a code for "Lost", though displaying it to the public would be, as you say, 'crazy' due to the insensitivity of letting people find out that way.
    – Random832
    Oct 10, 2017 at 16:24
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    @Random832 Yes, an override is in the mix, but it's one of those "Wait, who remembers how to change this?" situations. I don't even remember if this was part of the FID I worked with (yeah, I kinda know what I'm talking about here ;). Once the install is stabilized, it just runs.
    – DTRT
    Oct 10, 2017 at 16:35
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    @emory AR51 for North America and ER2B in Europe for Uncontrolled Diversion to Space. Passenger disposition is not covered flight telemetry. The delay should be reported normally though.
    – DTRT
    Oct 10, 2017 at 21:38
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    - Attention, Attention! Flight 513 scheduled at 5:25pm is cancelled because it crashed into the ocean.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 11, 2017 at 18:08
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    @RobertColumbia For that, the diversion airport is changed to JIRA, for a black hole it would be DLMN. Though the arrival time is usually way off.
    – DTRT
    Oct 11, 2017 at 19:48

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