Aviation Glossary

A

AFT

Toward the back or tail portion of the aircraft.

 

AILERON

Movable control surface hinged to aft edge of each wing, usually adjacent to wingtip, to control rolling movement.

 

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL (ATC)

Provided by an airport control tower for aircraft operating on the ground or in the air in the vicinity of the airport (usually within five statute miles of the airport).

 

AIRFOIL

A suitably shaped structure which, when propelled through the air, generates lift.

 

AIRSPEED INDICATOR

A cockpit instrument showing the speed of an aircraft relative to its surrounding air mass.

 

AIRWAY

A path or route in the air designated by proper authority to be suitable for air traffic...a highway in the sky. See VICTOR AIRWAY.

 

ALPH-NUMERICS

Letters and numbers used to show identification code, altitude, and other information concerning a target on a radar display.

 

ALTERNATE

A second or third choice airport to be used as an alternative if the intended airport is closed due to weather.

 

ALTIMETER

An instrument that records height above sea level.

 

ANGLE OF ATTACK

The angle of the wing in relation to the oncoming air.

 

ANTI-SKID SYSTEM

A mechanical system on large aircraft stopping wheels from locking when brakes are heavily applied which, in turn, keeps the aircraft from skidding down a runway.

 

APPROACH CONTROL

Air traffic control service for arriving and departing IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) aircraft and, on occasion, VFR (Visual Flight Rules) aircraft.

 

APU

Auxiliary Power Unit carried within an aircraft for such tasks as main engine starting; ground air-conditioning; and, the provision of electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic power in the air or on the ground.

 

ARMING THE DOORS

Engaging the mechanism so that the escape slide will inflate when the doors on the aircraft are opened. Usually done by the flight attendants immediately after push back.

 

AVIONICS

Aviation electronics, i.e., autopilot, altimeter, radios, etc.

 

ATIS

Acronym for Automated Terminal Information Service. A recorded message available on a radio frequency stating the ceiling, visibility, winds, altimeter setting, runways in use, so that the information contained need not be constantly repeated on congested tower radio frequencies.

B

BIDDING

A monthly process of selecting a schedule pilots and flight attendants would like to fly.

 

BLACK BOX

Actually, a bright orange, heat resistant box containing cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.

 

BULKHEAD

Forward wall of each portion of the passenger cabin.

 

BURBLE

A gentle bubbling flow; a separation or turbulence in the airflow around a streamlined body, such as a wing, causing a loss of lift and increase in drag.

 

C­

CAA

Civil Aeronautics Administration was the forerunner of the FAA.

 

CAB

Civil Aeronautics Board is a regulatory agency to designate air routes, fares, etc. Now in the process of deregulating and will ultimately go out of existence.

 

CEILING

Altitude of lowest cloud deck. Broken or overcast.

 

CHARTER FLIGHT

A flight arranged for a group or organization (sports team, political group, executives, tour groups, etc.}. It is arranged through the airlines planning department.

 

CHECK LIST

The list of items to be read aloud by first officer and responded to by captain on takeoff and landing. A full reading and response is mandatory on all commercial flights.

 

CHECK RIDE

A flight on which an FAA inspector or an FAA-authorized pilot accompanies the pilot and grades him on his overall flying ability. All airline pilots are required by FAA to pass check rides yearly.

 

CLEAN CONFIGURATIONS

All flaps, slats, spoilers, and landing gear are in retracted or stowed position so exterior of airplane is clean of airflow disturbances.

 

CLEAR AIR TURBULENCE (CAT)

Turbulence encountered in air where no clouds are present; applied to high level turbulence which may be encountered in the vicinity of the jet stream.

CLEARANCE

An authorization by Air Traffic Control giving permission to takeoff, proceed to a specified altitude, change course, or land. Clearance is given from control tower (or radar center) controlling the area's flights.

 

COACH

Two through five abreast seating areas, depending on aircraft type and airline. The seats are smaller than first class with less leg room. There may be meal service and charges will be made for cocktails and headsets for movies and music.

 

COCKPIT

The forward part of the aircraft from which the pilots fly the plane.

 

COCKPIT VOICE RECORDER

Records all cockpit conversation between crew members and all radio communication; may only be played back for accident investigations. Located in the "Black Box."

 

CONFLICT ALERT

A response of certain Air Traffic Control automated systems designed to alert radar controllers to aircraft on possibly converging flight paths.

 

CONTROL ZONE

Controlled airspace which extends upward from surface of the earth to 14,500 feet above sea level. Normally includes one or more airports and five statute mile radius with extensions where necessary for instrument approach and departure paths. Active only in IFR conditions.

 

CONTROLLER - EN ROUTE

Air traffic control personnel providing service to aircraft on an IFR flight, generally by air traffic control centers, when these aircraft are operating between departure and destination terminal areas.

 

CONTROLLER - GROUND

Controller in tower with responsibility of moving aircraft when they are nQ.t on active runways.

 

CONTROLLER - TOWER

Controller in tower with responsibility for aircraft landing, departing, and on active runways.

COWLING

A metal covering for an engine. The removable housing for an aircraft component, used for the purpose of protecting, streamlining, or regulating the flow of cool air.

 

CROSSWIND

See Wind - Cross.

 

CROSSCHECK

Flight attendants positioned across from each other verify that the other has properly complied with a procedure.

D

DECISION HEIGHT

In IFR flight, a specified height at which a missed approach must be initiated if the required visual reference to continue the approach to land has not been established.

 

DECOMPRESSION

A rapid loss of air pressure from a chamber.

 

DEMO POSITIONS

A number of designated places where the Flight Attendant stands to demonstrate the safety equipment on board the aircraft.

 

DEPARTURE CONTROL

A function of air traffic control providing service for departing IFR aircraft and VFR aircraft.

 

DIRECT FLIGHT

A flight (with a flight number) that makes one or more stops on its way to the final destination.

 

DIRTY CONFIGURATION

Flaps, slats, spoilers, and landing gear are extended so airflow is distributed over the wing, slowing the airplane down. "Dirtying" the. streamlining.

 

DISPATCH

Location where aircraft crews check in; current weather data given to pilots for review; quantity of fuel to be loaded on the aircraft is agreed upon, etc.

 

DME

Distance Measuring Equipment. Instrument in cockpit used to measure the distance of an aircraft from a navigation aid.

 

DOORS - JET ESCAPE

Automatically inflated slide attached to door for use in emergencies only.

 

DOORS - MAIN CABIN

Entrance and exit doors for passengers.

 

DRAG

The resistance of an airfoil to its passage through the air, creating a force parallel to the airstream.

 

E

EDDY CURRENT

A non-destructive testing technique used to look for internal stress and fatigue failures in metal.

 

ELEVATOR

A horizontal airfoil on the tail of an airplane for producing controlling up and down motion.

 

ETA

Estimated Time of Arrival of a flight.

 

ETD

Estimated Time of Departure of a flight.

 

EVACUATION SLIDE

An inflatable conveyance, at airplane door exits, used to deploy people from aircraft to ground in emergency situations.

 

EXTRA SECTION FLIGHT

An added aircraft to accommodate need at peak travel periods. Usually found during holiday schedules.

 

F

FAA

Federal Aviation Administration. The part of the United States government responsible for the promotion, regulation, and safety of civil aviation.

 

FARS

Federal Aviation Regulations. Rules developed by the FAA for pilots, aircraft, construction and operation, controllers, mechanics, etc.

 

FERRY FLIGHT

Flight to move an airplane from one point to another, carrying no passengers, only flight crew members.

 

FINAL APPROACH

Flight path of an aircraft which is inbound to the airport on an approved final instrument approach course extending to the airport.

 

FIRST CLASS

Forward cabin area with two abreast seating. Seats are larger than coach seats and there is more leg room. Passengers in this area are served different meals than in coach; they receive free beverage and movie service.

 

FIRST FLIGHT ATTENDANT

Gives most announcements and takes care of all paperwork. He/she usually greets all passengers as they board or assigns someone else to do so. He/she usually works the first-class cabin and is also paid extra for flying this position.

 

FLAPS

Usually a hinged portion of the trailing edge surface of the wing which can be lowered partially to increase lift, or fully to increase drag.

FLIGHT DATA RECORDER

Any type of recorder installed in the aircraft for the purpose of complementing accident or incident investigations. Located in "Black Box."

FLIGHT DIRECTOR

An airborne device (altitude indicator) that depicts the horizon, the relative position of the aircraft, and its pitch. It displays every movement the aircraft makes-up, down, left, or right.

 

FLIGHT LEVEL

A level of constant atmospheric pressure stated in three digits representing hundreds of feet starting at 18,000 feet. FL 250 represents a barometric altimeter indication of 25,000 feet.

 

FLIGHT NUMBERS

Eastbound and Northbound trips have even numbers and Westbound and Southbound trips have odd numbers.

 

FLIGHT PLAN

Formal announcement with ATC of an aircraft flight, including aircraft type and number, estimated time of departure, route, altitude, estimated time en route, destination airport, alternate airport if destination airport closed because of weather, etc.

 

FORWARD

Toward the nose of the aircraft.

 

FUSELAGE

Main body of a plane. Includes passenger cabin, cockpit, and cargo compartments.

 

G

GALLEY

Area in aircraft where food and beverages are stored and prepared. There is usually an emergency door in this area, too.

GATE HOLD PROCEDURES

Procedure at selected airports to hold aircraft at the gate whenever departure delays exceed five minutes, or when a delay is anticipated at flight destination.

GENERAL AVIATION

Any aircraft other than military or commercial air carriers.

GLIDE SLOPE

An instrument used in ILS to maintain a constant path taken by an aircraft as it descends for landing approaches.

GPWS

Ground Proximity Warning System is an instrument that warns the pilots the aircraft is too close to the ground and they must pull up.

GRAVITY

Force imparted by the earth to a mass which is at rest relative to the earth.

GROUND SPEED

The speed of an aircraft relative to the surface of the earth.

H

HAND-OFF

Term used when air traffic controller transfers responsibility for an aircraft to next controller as aircraft nears sector for which new controller is responsible.

HEAD WIND

See Wind - Head.

HEAVY

Designation used to indicate probability of wake turbulence on aircraft capable of gross weights of 300,000 pounds and above.

HOLDING

A predetermined maneuver which keeps an aircraft within a specified airspace while awaiting further clearance.

HYDRAULICS

System using fluid to operate or change the position of an object.

 

I

IFR

Instrument Flight Rules. Rules governing aircraft operation when weather is bad and visual contact cannot be made. All commercial turbo-jets use IFR regardless of the weather. IFR gives protection of controlled separation of commercial aircraft, normally a minimum of 1,000 feet vertically when flying assigned routes.

ILS

Instrument Landing System. Permits safe landing in conditions of poor visibility. A system that guides pilots during landing by means of two sets of radio beams transmitted from the ground near the runway. This enables pilots to align aircraft with runway entirely by instruments.

INS

Inertial Navigation System. Incorporates three sensitive accelerometers which continuously measure changes in an aircraft's speed and direction and a computer which works out the aircraft position from this information.

INBOUND CREW

The crew who flies a flight and craft to a destination.

J

JET ENGINE

Operates by heating the air within, which causes the air to expand. As the air expands, it is expelled out the rear of the engine causing the plane to move forward.                ·

JET STREAM

A migrating stream of high-speed winds present at high altitudes (usually flows from west to east).

JETWAY

Enclosed, elevated passageway from terminal to airplane. Also known as jet bridge and passenger loading bridge.

JOINT ACCEPTANCE INSPECTION TEST (JAIT)

Test that all equipment must pass before it can be accepted by an airline.

JUMP SEAT

Seat for crew use only, usually found near cabin doors. Most are spring loaded so they will fold back into wall when weight is lifted off of them.

K

KNOT

Rate of speed in nautical miles (knots per hour). It is a unit-equal to approximately 1.15 statute miles per hour.

 

L

LEADING EDGE

Forward-most part of the wing.

 

LEADING EDGE DEVICES

Portions of the wing which extend to increase lift of the wing.

 

LIFT

That component of the total air force which is perpendicular to the relative wind-opposed to gravity.

 

LINE

A system of public conveyances.

 

LINE OF FLYING

As it relates to a schedule, a line covers all the days of a month and tells what days off pilots and flight attendants will have and exactly what trips they will be flying. They are awarded according to seniority.

 

LOCALIZER

A radio transmitter placed on the far end of the runway to give the pilot directional guidance for landing between 3 and 6 degrees. Part of ILS System.

 

LOGBOOK

The record of a specific aircraft's exact time for each flight; length of time airborne of the airframe (skeleton of the plane), engines, and components; and, mechanical discrepancies noted by pilots and mechanics.

 

LOSE AN ENGINE

A term used to indicate the loss of power from an engine. Often a power shut down by the crew as a safety measure to avoid engine damage.

M

MACH NUMBER

Ratio of true airspeed to the speed of sound.

 

MARKER

Electrical device that transmits a directional signal to aircraft flying overhead along an airway or on the approach to an instrument runway. Both a light and sound signal are received in the cockpit on passage over the marker beacons.

 

MARKER - MIDDLE

About 3,500 feet from runway threshold and 200 feet above the touchdown zone.

 

MARKER - OUTER

Indicates position at which aircraft should intercept instrument approach glide slope about f1Ve to seven miles from threshold of the runway.

 

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT LIST (MEL)

Written by the aircraft manufacturers and approved by the FAA and ATA, the MEL lists various components on the aircraft that must be operative for safety.

N

NAUTICAL MILE

Distance measurement (used in aviation as well as in shipping) equal to 1.15 statute miles.

 

NAV AID

Electronic equipment to give navigational guidance: VOA, non-directional radio beacon, localizer, etc.

 

NAVIGATON

The science or art of ascertaining the position and directing the course of an aircraft in flight.

 

NOISE ABATEMENT

Alternatives used by airports, airlines, and their pilots to keep aircraft noise to a minimum. May include, but is not limited to, reducing power as soon as safe after takeoff; not using particular runways, approaches, or departures during quiet hours if safe to do so; using selected areas for running up or testing engines, etc.

 

NON-STOP

No stops between departure of a flight until it arrives at its destination.

 

NTSB

National Transportation Safety Board whose responsibility it is to investigate all commercial aviation as well as any public transportation system accident, determine causes, and make recommendations for change to the appropriate Federal agency.

 

O

OFFICIAL AIRLINE GUIDE

Listing of flights flown by all airlines. There are domestic and international guides.

 

OMEGA

A long-range navigation system utilizing very low frequency signals providing fixing accuracy within plus or minus two nautical miles anywhere on the surface of the earth.

 

ON THE GAUGES

Flying with reference only to instruments in the cockpit and no reference with the ground (IFR).

 

OUTBOUND CREW

The crew taking the flight out to the next stop.

P

PARALLEL RUNWAYS

Two or more runways at the same airport whose centerlines are parallel. In addition to runway numbers, they are designated R (right) and L (left).

 

PARASITIC DRAG

Resistance produced by any protruding portion of the aircraft as it moves through the air.

 

PIERS

A long arm of an extending airport terminal at which air carriers park their airplanes to embark and disembark passengers. Also known as concourses.

 

PILOTS - CAPTAIN

Officer in command of the aircraft. He/she sits in the left front seat and usually has four stripes on the sleeves. Among other things, a Captain flies the plane and monitors the flight instruments. He/she has final responsibility for everything that happens on board the aircraft.

 

PILOTS - FIRST OFFICER

(Co-Pilot) Second in command officer who sits in the right front seat. He/she normally has three stripes on the sleeve. Responsibility, among other things, is to fly the plane and monitor the flight instruments.

 

PITCH

The movement of an aircraft around its lateral axis, i.e., nose up or nose down.

 

PNEUMATIC

System using air to operate or change the position of an object.

 

POSITIVE CONTROL AREA

Airspace in which all aircraft must operate under instrument flight rules (IFR). Starts at 18,000 feet Mean Sea Level and continues upward.

 

PREFLIGHT

The physical act of inspecting the exterior of the aircraft for anything unusual, i.e., fuel seepage, loose, or missing bolts, etc. Usually done by Second Officer.

 

PRESSURIZATION SYSTEM

Mechanical system on aircraft allowing the altitude or pressure inside the cabin to be greater than that outside the aircraft, i.e., outside 35,000 feet and inside 8,000 feet.

 

R

RADAR

Radio Direction and Ranging is a device which measures the time interval between transmission and reception of radio pulses and provides information on range and elevation of objects in the path of the transmitted pulses.

 

REDUNDANCY

The existence of more than one means of accomplishing a given task, where all means must fail before there is an overall failure to the system.

 

RESERVE

A stand-by status. A pilot or flight attendant on reserve knows what his/her scheduled days on and off are but does not know where flights will be going. Must sit by phone or let whereabouts be known in case he/she is assigned a trip.

 

REVERSE (ERS)

Redirects the jet exhaust forward on landing roll-out to slow down the aircraft.

 

ROLL

Rotation of an aircraft about its longitudinal axis.

ROTATION

The act of pulling up the nose of an aircraft to take off.

RUDDER

The vertical control surface at the rear edge of the vertical stabilizer or fin. Part of the tail assembly.

RUNWAY NUMBERS

Compass headings with the last digit eliminated, i.e., Runway 28 is compass heading of 275 to 284 degrees.

S

SECTOR

Three-dimensional piece of air space in which an air traffic controller is responsible for all air traffic.

 

SEGMENT

Each time a flight takes off and then lands is called a segment.

 

SENIORITY

According to date graduated from training school for pilots and flight attendants.

 

SEPARATION

In air traffic control, the spacing of aircraft to achieve their safe and orderly movement in flight while landing and taking off.

 

SIMULATOR

A computerized duplicate of an aircraft's cockpit that moves, feels, and reacts and operates exactly like the real aircraft. These are used extensively for initial and recurrent training of pilots. Even though they each cost millions of dollars, they save money and are safer to train in than a real airplane.

 

SKIN PAINT

The coat of paint right next to the metal skin of an aircraft. It is removed totally during major overhauls of an aircraft when all parts are removed.

 

SLATS

Leading-edge devices on the wings extended to increase lift at slower speeds.

 

SLIDE PACK

Attached to main cabin door for use in emergencies and contains inflatable slide.

 

SPEED - CRUISE

Most heavy aircraft cruise between 0.73 and 0.83 Mach in today's fuel crunch (555 to 632 mph). (Varies with each aircraft and load.)

 

SPEED - LIFTOFF

Most heavy aircraft take off at about 120 knots (138 mph). (Varies with each aircraft and load.)

 

SPEED - LANDING

Most heavy aircraft land at about 130 knots (150 mph). (Varies with each aircraft and load.)

 

SPOILERS

Control surfaces on top of the wings used to destroy lift by interfering with the airflow.

 

SPOOLING UP

Revving up the engines before landing so they are at 70 percent power at 500 feet above the ground on final approach in case a go-round is necessary (takes approximately five to eight seconds).

 

SST

Super Sonic Transport is an aircraft that can travel beyond the speed of sound.

 

STALL

Loss of lift due to excessive angle of attack and/or insufficient speed.

 

STATIC WICK

A flexible metal which is attached to the trailing edges of wings to allow built-up static electricity to escape harmlessly.

STICK SHAKER

An electronic device that shakes the controls used to maneuver the aircraft to warn the pilot of approaching stall speed.

 

SUPERSONIC

Traveling faster than the speed of sound (Mach 1.0).

 

SYSTEM TIMETABLE

Listing of all flights flown by one airline.

T

TAIL WIND

See Wind - Tail.

 

TAXI

Time from engine start to the takeoff and from landing to arrival at gate (ground travel).

 

TCA

Terminal Control Area is an area of airspace around and over a high-density air traffic area in order to land within this area, the aircraft must have a two-way radio, an encoding altimeter, and be flown by a pilot with at least a private pilot rating. All aircraft in the area must be under a controller's direction. Generally, a TCA is shaped roughly like an upside-down wedding cake.

 

THROTTLE

The mechanism in the cockpit that controls the amount of power the associated engine produces (a.k.a. thrust levers, power levers).

 

THRUST

The pushing or pulling force developed by an aircraft engine.

 

THRUST LEVERS

See Throttle.

THRUST REVERSER

A device or apparatus for reversing thrust, especially of a jet engine. Thrust applied to a moving object in a direction opposite to the direction of the object's motion.

 

TRAILING EDGE

Back edge of the wing. Flaps and ailerons are located in this portion of the wing.

 

TRANSPONDER

An electronic aid by which a controller can determine an aircraft's exact position. When device is activated by a controller, it triggers the airborne transmitter which gives a two­ slash blip on the controller's radarscope.

 

TRIP

A flight or series of flights crew members will fly upon leaving their base until they return. Each trip includes:

  • Lay Over-Amount of time spent free from duty at a hotel/motel away from home base.

  • Flight Time-Number of hours spent in the air each day, including taxi time (block to block).

  • Total Flight Time-Sum of all flight time for the trip.

  • Ground Time-Time spent on the ground either on the plane or in the terminal building while still on duty.

  • Duty Time-From time a crew member reports for a flight each day until finished each day. Maximum duty time is usually 15 hours.

  • Meal Expenses-Money allotted for meals for the entire time away from base.

 

TRIP TRADE

Flying another crew member's trip while he/she flies yours (with approval of the office).

 

TURN AROUND

A one-day trip where a crew member flies from his/her base to a certain destination and back to the base again.

V

V Speeds

  • V1: A critical speed during takeoff. Below V1, the takeoff must be abandoned if an engine fails. Above V1, the takeoff must be continued.

  • V2: The speed required by an airliner to climb safely at the desired angle after takeoff.

  • VR: Velocity Rate. The speed at which an airliner must be traveling along the runway when its nose is pulled up to take off.

 

VECTOR

A heading issued to an aircraft to provide navigational guidance by radar.

 

VERTICAL STABILIZER

A fin on the tail of the aircraft that is fixed to the fuselage and cannot move. It keeps the airplane on a straight course.

 

VFR

Visual Flight Rules means the pilot must fly with constant reference to the ground and maintain separation from other aircraft using the ·see and be seen· guidelines.

 

VICTOR AIRWAVES

“Highways in the Sky" Each airway is based on a centerline that extends from one navigation aid or intersection to another navigation aid (or through several navigation aids or intersections) specified for that airway.

 

VOR

Very High Frequency Omni Range is a radio aid to air navigation that allows an aircraft to obtain its bearing to or from it within one degree of accuracy.

 

VORTEX GENERATORS

A number of fixed metal strips on the surface of an aerodynamic body that may be used as spoilers to redirect the airflow.

 

W

WAKE TURBULENCE

A disturbance of air caused by air flow off the wing tip. (Also called wing tip vortices.) It is more pronounced at slow airspeeds.

 

WEATHER RADAR

A type of radar on an airplane that can indicate the best route around storms. It does not pick up other aircraft on its scope, however.

WHEEL WELLS

The large enclosures on the bottom of the aircraft fuselage used to house the landing gear when it is in the retracted position.

WIDE-BODY AIRCRAFT

An aircraft having two aisles.

 

WIND

Air blowing through the atmosphere.

  • Cross -Wind blowing across the flight path which, if strong enough, causes the aircraft to be blown off course. The pilot compensates for the situation.

  • Head-Wind blowing toward the nose of the airplane during flight, slowing the plane's progress over the ground.

  • Shear-A change in wind speed and/or direction in a given space. It can exist horizontally or vertically and occasionally both.

  • Tail-Wind blowing toward the tail of the airplane (from behind) during flight, speeding up the plane's progress over the ground.

 

Y

YAW

Movement of an aircraft's nose to left or right around the vertical axis.

YOKE

The control column of an aircraft. In an automobile, it would be-the steering column and steering wheel.

 

Z

ZERO-ZERO

Weather condition of no forward or vertical visibility.

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