Aviation A-Z

Friday, January 13, 2023

When it comes to the aviation industry, there are many terms and abbreviations commonly used and it seems as though the industry has its own language. Below we take a look at some of the most used terms and what they mean.

An auxiliary power unit (APU) is commonly found at the tail of large aircraft. It is used to provide the aircraft with electricity whilst on the ground. It is commonly recognisable by an exhaust seen at the tail.

B - Bulkhead
Bulkheads can be found throughout an aircraft and are used to divide it into different classes or sections. Typically it is a wall but it can also be a curtain or a screen. The aft pressure bulkhead or rear pressure bulkhead is the rear component of the pressure seal in all aircraft that cruise in a tropopause zone in the earth's atmosphere. It helps maintain pressure when stratocruising and protects the aircraft from bursting due to the higher internal pressure.

C - Cowling
A cowling covers the engine of the aircraft and needs to withstand intense in-flight environments. The main purpose is to ensure the flow of air from outside of the aircraft is streamlined and also to aid the cooling of the engine. They are removable to allow inspections and repairs to the engine.

D - Drag
Drag is generated by every part of the aircraft and will cause it to slow down. To increase the rate of descent of slow the aircraft down, commercial pilots will usually deploy speed brakes to increase the drag.

ICAO defines an Emergency locator transmitter (ELT) as equipment which broadcasts distinctive signals on designated Emergency frequencies and, depending on application, may be automatically activated by impact or be manually activated. Aircraft are fitted with an ELT that is either fixed or which can be portable.

F - Fairing
Fairings are used to create a smooth surface to the aircraft and aid in reducing drag incurred during flight. They tend to cover gaps and spaces and also aid in improving the appearance of the aircraft.

G - Groundspeed
This is the actual speed of an aircraft over the ground and is adjusted to take into account the speed of the wind and the direction that the wind is traveling in.

H - Hold Short
Air Traffic Control will instruct you to wait, staying away from a taxiway or runway. Once it is safe to continue, the flight team will receive clearance to proceed.

The Instrument Landing System (ILS) provides pilots with a vertical and horizontal approach through two radio beams during the approach to a runway for landing.

J - Joystick
Formally known as Sidestick. This is the main device of control in the cockpit of many aircraft similar to a Yoke. It often contains multiple switches to operate various functions within the aircraft as well as being manoeuvrable to control the aircrafts movements.

K - Knots
Knots is used to measure the speed of aircraft. It is based on the length of a nautical mile, which is closely linked to the longitude and latitude coordinate system.

L - Lift
Lift is required in flight to counteract the weight of the aircraft, it is created by the effect of air travelling over the wing.

MTOW is the Maximum Take Off Weight is usually specified in kilograms or pounds and is the maximum weight that an aircraft is certified to take off at.

N - Noise Abatement
Noise Abatement procedure is a procedure used by aircraft at an airport to minimize the impact of noise on the communities surrounding an airport. Aircraft operating at low altitude near populated areas must comply with local Noise abatement procedures, such as using different power settings and reducing noise emissions.

The Operations Control Centre (OCC) is the central coordination hub for all items relating to both the fleet or aircraft and the aircraft movements.

P - Pitot tube
A pitot tube is most commonly found on the fuselage and the edge of the wings on an aircraft. They work as sensors to monitor both the pressure and speed of air during flight, the difference between the two values is used to calculate the airspeed.

QNH is used to determine an aircraft’s altitude above sea level whilst in flight via the barometric altimeter.

R - Rudder
The rudder controls the planes movement and is used by the pilot to turn an aircraft during flight. It is also used to keep the plane in line with the runway during take-off and landing when experiencing crosswinds.

This is a term commonly used by air traffic control to describe the type of radio signal which is being emitted by the transponder of the aircraft. It is a four digit code, each of which is a number between 0 and 7.

T - Transponder
A transponder is a system onboard an aircraft to provide aircraft identification and altitude to ATC to enable them to both monitor the aircraft during flight and ensure safe spacing with surrounding aircraft.

U - Upwind
When you are flying against the direction as the wind, you are going upwind and so the aircraft will be experiencing a headwind, essentially slowing them down.

V - V-speed
V-speeds are used by aircraft manufacturers or designers to define important airspeeds to the aircraft. For example, the speed at which take-off should no longer be aborted, maximum operating speed limit or maximum operating manoeuvring speed.

W - Weight & Balance
This relates to how heavy the aircraft is and where the centre of gravity of the aircraft is to allow it to be balanced. If this is calculated incorrectly with passengers and cargo it could mean that the aircraft is unable to get off the ground.

X - XC (Cross Country)
An XC flight (cross country)is defined by the EASA as "a flight between a point of departure and a point of arrival following a pre-planned route, using standard navigation procedures."

Y - Yoke
The yoke of an aircraft is the control column which controls the aircrafts movement, pitch and altitude, similar to aircraft fitted with a Joystick or side stick.

Z - Zulu Time
Zulu time is another term for UTC which is used to avoid confusion which may arise from local time differences. By using this standard time there is a generic reference to work from globally.