Supported character sets
The complete Spottingmode database supports a wide range of characters, not just the standard Latin Alphabet (A to Z) and Arabic numerals (0 to 9). All text fields are generally capable of handling all characters in the UTF-8 set. However, support in the registration and construction number fields is a little more complicated.
Special character support in registration field
All the published planes in the Spottingmode database only use the Latin alphabet and the Arabic numerals in presentation of the serial. No other characters will be used in the main lists. However, there are a number of countries that use other alphabets and numerals for the official registrations. Mostly military, but even some civilians. The Spottingmode database comes with support for those different characters. Registrations can be entered using those characters and the system will translate the characters to the default characters before inserting the sighting. This allows the sighting to be linked to the published plane, but it will still be displayed in personal overviews with the characters as entered.
All the characters displayed in this document can be inserted into the registration field by invoking the special character insert assistant (more info at the help/insert page).
There is no check on when alternative characters are used, nor if these are mixed. In other words, any registration can be inserted using a mix of the below and the sighting will still be linked to the correct plane.
The use of characters from the Greek alphabet is limited. Only the Greek Navy (ΠN) and the Greek Army (ΕΣ) use Greek letters in their registrations. The set of available Greek characters in the insert assistant is therefore also limited to only these four letters.
Many Arab Air Forces use the Eastern Arabic numerals in the registrations on military aircraft. This is opposed to the Western Arab numerals (0 - 9) that are used in most of the world. There is no known example of the Arabic alphabet ever having been used, so the only Arab characters available in the insert assistant are the numerals.
The Cyrillic alphabet (used in Russia and surrounding countries) is only used in very specific cases, however a large part of the alphabet can be found. Especially in older Soviet registrations. The complete alphabet is therefore available in the insert assistant.
There is one oddity in the use of the Cyrillic alphabet. ICAO states that all prefixes used in civil registrations should be written in the Latin alphabet on the plane. This means that the Soviet CCCP is the Latin CCCP and not the Cyrillic СССР (which would be the Latin SSSR). So when entering a Soviet registration, do not use the Cyrillic СССР for the prefix, but the normal Latin CCCP, otherwise the prefix will be translated after which it will not link correctly. Any other letters used in Soviet and Russian registrations generally are Cyrillic.
The Thai Air Force uses several codes and former registrations on their planes, but the real unique registration is a structured registration written completely in Thai. The biggest difficulty is that not all characters can be easily represented in the Latin alphabet and different interpretations are used. The table below indicates how these are used in the Spottingmode database. With one additional note, the first four letters are also sometimes represented in Latin as A, B, C and D. These are the first four characters in the Thai alphabet and are used in the serial system to denote a subversion of a type. For the published planes the below values are used, but A B C D will also link correctly if used in a sighting.
No other alphabets are known to be used in any registration system. However, others might be added when these become known or are newly introduced. It will not work automatically due to the character conversion that needs to take place before insertion into the database. Please get in touch through the contact page with requests for additional support.
Special character support in construction number field
There are only a few known examples of construction numbers containing non-Latin characters (and in fact non with non-Arabic numerals). All the examples use Cyrillic letters, for example some MiG-21s, the An-2s and a few others. The available characters are the same as for the registration field. When the insert assistant is invoked for the construction number field, only the Cyrillic alphabet will be visible, the others cannot be selected.
Special character support in other fields
All other fields are enabled to use all characters within the UTF-8 set of characters. Pre defined values (country names, locations, service) all only use Latin characters, with only in some cases use of language specific accents. Other alphabets are not used in those fields, but can be used for any user input. These characters will not be translated or converted in any way and users should take care of making sure the same characters are used where fields should be identical. Use of the drop down option (for example with unit names) is untested when characters from different alphabets are used.
A full overview of all characters available in the UTF-8 set can be found here: fileformat.info.