Flight Glossary

  1. Aileron: A hinged control surface on the wings of an aircraft that controls the roll or banking motion of the aircraft.
  2. Air Traffic Control (ATC): The ground-based service responsible for directing aircraft movements, providing guidance, and ensuring safe separation of aircraft in controlled airspace.
  3. Altitude: The vertical distance above a reference point, usually measured in feet or meters.
  4. Approach: The final phase of a flight where the aircraft descends and aligns with a specific runway for landing.
  5. Autopilot: An electronic system that automatically controls the aircraft’s flight, including maintaining altitude, heading, and speed.
  6. Aviation Weather: Weather conditions and forecasts specifically tailored for aviation purposes, including information on visibility, cloud cover, wind speed, and temperature.
  7. Bank: The angle at which an aircraft is tilted from its normal flight path during a turn.
  8. Cockpit: The enclosed area of an aircraft where the pilot and co-pilot sit to operate the aircraft’s controls.
  9. Crosswind: A wind that blows perpendicular to the aircraft’s direction of travel, requiring pilots to compensate during takeoff and landing.
  10. Glide slope: A radio signal transmitted from the ground that helps pilots maintain the correct vertical descent path during an approach for landing.
  11. Groundspeed: The actual speed of an aircraft relative to the ground, considering the aircraft’s airspeed and the effects of wind.
  12. IFR (Instrument Flight Rules): A set of regulations and procedures that govern the operation of aircraft under instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) when relying primarily on instruments for navigation.
  13. Landing gear: The undercarriage of an aircraft that supports the weight of the aircraft during landing and ground operations.
  14. Mach number: The ratio of an aircraft’s true airspeed to the speed of sound. Mach 1 is the speed of sound.
  15. Preflight Inspection: A thorough inspection of an aircraft before each flight to ensure it is in proper working condition and safe to fly.
  16. Runway: A designated area on an airport for aircraft takeoff and landing.
  17. Stall: A loss of lift due to exceeding the critical angle of attack, resulting in an abrupt loss of control and a rapid descent.
  18. Taxi: The movement of an aircraft on the ground under its own power, typically to and from the runway.
  19. Throttle: The control lever or knob that regulates the engine’s power output.
  20. VFR (Visual Flight Rules): A set of regulations and procedures that govern the operation of aircraft in visual meteorological conditions (VMC), allowing pilots to navigate by visual reference to the ground and landmarks.
  21. Wind shear: A sudden change in wind direction or speed over a short distance, which can affect aircraft performance during takeoff or landing.
  22. Yaw: The side-to-side movement of an aircraft around its vertical axis, controlled by the rudder.
  23. Zulu Time: Also known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), it is a standard time reference used in aviation, allowing for consistent timekeeping across different time zones.
  24. Airspeed: The speed of an aircraft relative to the air mass in which it is flying.
  25. Baggage Compartment: A designated area in an aircraft for storing passengers’ luggage and belongings.
  26. Center of Gravity: The point at which an aircraft’s weight is considered to be concentrated, affecting its stability and maneuverability.
  27. Clearance: Authorization from air traffic control for an aircraft to proceed under specific conditions, such as takeoff, landing, or change of altitude.
  28. Deadhead: The transportation of an airline crew member as a passenger to or from their duty location.
  29. Enroute: The phase of a flight between departure and arrival, usually referring to the portion of the flight conducted at cruising altitude.
  30. Flaps: Hinged sections on the trailing edge of an aircraft’s wings that can be extended or retracted to change the wing’s shape and increase lift.
  31. Fuel Capacity: The maximum amount of fuel an aircraft can carry.
  32. Ground Control: The air traffic control service responsible for directing aircraft movements on the ground, including taxiing, parking, and pushback.
  33. Holding Pattern: A predetermined racetrack-shaped flight pattern that aircraft may enter and fly while awaiting clearance to land.
  34. ILS (Instrument Landing System): A ground-based radio navigation system that provides precision guidance to aircraft during the approach and landing phase.
  35. Jetstream: A high-speed, narrow, and meandering air current in the atmosphere that can affect aircraft speed and fuel efficiency.
  36. Knot: A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, commonly used in aviation.
  37. Load Factor: The ratio of the load experienced by an aircraft’s structure to the aircraft’s weight.
  38. Magnetic Compass: An instrument that uses a magnetic needle to indicate the aircraft’s heading relative to magnetic north.
  39. NOTAM (Notice to Airmen): A notice containing essential information for pilots, including temporary changes or hazards to navigational aids, airspace restrictions, and airport conditions.
  40. Overhead Bin: Storage compartments located above passenger seats in the cabin for stowing carry-on baggage.
  41. Pitot Tube: A sensor located on the aircraft’s exterior that measures the dynamic pressure of the airflow, used to determine airspeed.
  42. Radar: An electronic system that uses radio waves to detect and track objects, including aircraft, for air traffic control and weather monitoring.
  43. Rudder: A movable control surface on an aircraft’s vertical stabilizer that controls yaw or the aircraft’s left and right movement.
  44. SID (Standard Instrument Departure): A published departure procedure that provides a standard routing for aircraft departing from a specific airport.
  45. Terminal Control Area (TCA): A controlled airspace surrounding major airports, typically with defined altitude and communication requirements for aircraft.
  46. Uncontrolled Airport: An airport that does not have air traffic control services. Pilots communicate with each other using common radio frequencies.
  47. VFR Corridor: A designated airspace route for visual flight rules aircraft to fly through controlled airspace without requiring a specific clearance.
  48. Wake Turbulence: Turbulent air currents produced by an aircraft’s wingtip vortices, which can pose a hazard to following aircraft, especially smaller ones.
  49. X-wind: Abbreviation for crosswind, referring to a wind blowing perpendicular to the aircraft’s direction of travel.
  50. Yoke: The control column or wheel in the cockpit that pilots use to control the aircraft’s pitch and roll movements.
  51. Zero Fuel Weight: The total weight of an aircraft, including its structure, systems, crew, passengers, and cargo, but excluding fuel.
  52. Aerodrome: A term used to
  53. refer to an airport or airfield, including its runways, taxiways, and associated facilities.
  54. Ballast: Additional weight carried in an aircraft to maintain proper balance and stability, especially during flight testing or when cargo is not evenly distributed.
  55. Clearance Delivery: The air traffic control frequency or service responsible for providing initial clearances to aircraft before departure.
  56. Direct-To: A navigation instruction given to pilots to fly directly to a specific fix, waypoint, or destination without following a predefined route.
  57. Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT): A device installed in an aircraft that, when activated, transmits a distress signal to aid in locating the aircraft in case of an emergency.
  58. Flight Data Recorder (FDR): A device installed in an aircraft to record various flight parameters and data, often referred to as the “black box.”
  59. Glide Ratio: The distance an aircraft can travel horizontally for a given change in altitude during unpowered flight.
  60. Headwind: A wind blowing opposite to the aircraft’s direction of travel, resulting in increased groundspeed and extended flight time.
  61. Instrument Rating: An additional qualification beyond a private pilot license that allows a pilot to fly an aircraft using only instruments for navigation and guidance.
  62. Jet Bridge: An enclosed, movable walkway that connects the terminal building to an aircraft’s door, allowing passengers to board and deplane directly from the terminal.
  63. Mach Trim: An automatic system that adjusts the aircraft’s control surfaces to maintain stable flight at high speeds, accounting for changes in air density.
  64. NOTOC (Notification to Captain): A document providing information about the location and nature of dangerous goods or hazardous materials being carried on an aircraft.
  65. Pilots-in-Command (PIC): The pilot responsible for the safe operation and navigation of an aircraft during a flight.
  66. Runway Incursion: A situation where an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle, or person enters an active runway without proper clearance, posing a collision risk.
  67. Stall Speed: The minimum airspeed at which an aircraft can maintain level flight before it experiences a stall.
  68. Tailwind: A wind blowing in the same direction as the aircraft’s travel, resulting in increased groundspeed and potentially reduced flight time.
  69. Unicom: A non-towered radio frequency used for pilot-to-pilot communications at airports without air traffic control services.
  70. VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions): Weather conditions that allow for flight under visual flight rules, characterized by good visibility and clear skies.
  71. Wake Turbulence Separation: Minimum time or distance required between aircraft to avoid encountering the turbulent wake generated by larger aircraft.
  72. Yaw Damper: An electronic or hydraulic system that helps stabilize an aircraft’s yawing motion caused by various factors, such as engine torque or wind gusts.
  73. ZFW (Zero Fuel Weight): The maximum weight of an aircraft excluding fuel, but including passengers, cargo, and other operational items.
  74. Angle of Attack: The angle between the oncoming airflow and a reference line on the aircraft’s wing, determining its lift characteristics.
  75. Base Leg: The segment of the traffic pattern flown at a constant altitude and constant distance from the runway, before turning onto the final approach.
  76. Center of Lift: The point along the wing’s chord line where the total lift force acts, influencing the aircraft’s balance and stability.
  77. Dead Reckoning: The process of estimating an aircraft’s position by calculating its heading, groundspeed, and elapsed time since the last known position.
  78. Elevator: The primary control surface on the tail of an aircraft that controls its pitch or nose-up/-down movement.
  79. FBO (Fixed-Base Operator): A commercial business located at an airport that provides various services, such as fueling, aircraft maintenance, and pilot amenities.
  80. GPS (Global Positioning System): A satellite-based navigation system that provides precise position information for aircraft navigation.
  81. Holding Speed: A specific airspeed at which an aircraft is flown while in a holding pattern, usually expressed in knots or nautical miles per hour.