A Glossary Of Flying Terms
A complete glossary of all aviation terms is beyond the remit of this site. However you will find here all of the aviation terms you are likely to encounter as you start to fly.
AFISOAerodrome Flight Information Service Operator. A type of air traffic controller who is authorised to give information but not instruction
AileronFixed to the wing tip, this moving aerofoil is there to allow the areoplane to turn left or right.
AltimeterAn aneroid barometer instrument calibrated to indicate height above a given datum. Can be set to give height above ground, altitude (height above sea level) or a flight level in accordance with the International standard pressure setting.
AltitudeHeight of Aircraft above sea level - this is not the same as height above the ground!
Angle of AttackAngle between the chord line of an aerofoil and the relative airstream
AOPAAircraft Owners & Pilot's Association
ApronAn area of the aerodrome designed to facilitate the safe movements of aircraft on the ground
Artificial HorizonThe master instrument, operated by gyroscope to give the pilot information about aircraft attitude - essential when flying in poor visibility or at night.
ATCAir Traffic Control
ATCOAir Traffic Controller
ATPLAir Transport Pilot's Licence
C of ACertificate of Airworthiness (refers to the aircraft not the pilot!)
CAACivil Aviation Authority
CamberThe curvature of the surface of an aerofoil that causes lift
Centre of GravityThe point in the aircraft through which the sum of the weights of the parts which make up the aircraft may be assumed to pass whatever the attitude of the aircraft. This will become very important when you start making calculations to carry passengers.
CFIChief Flying Instructor
Control ColumnMay be yoke or stick type, operates the ailerons and elevator
CPLCommercial Pilot's Licence
DragThe total resistance of an aeroplane along its line of flight
DriftThe movement of an aeroplane in a horizontal plane through the influence of a cross-wind
DualFlight and flight time recorded when under instruction
E. 1Flight Engineer
ElevatorControl surface hinged to the trailing edge of the tailplane to provide longitudinal control. Movement of the tail plane causes the aircraft to climb or descend
FixThe point of intersection of two position lines drawn on a map to determine the location of an aeroplane
FlapA hinged surface, usually at the trailing edge of a wing, used to increase the lift of a wing at slow speeds, to steepen the glide and to act as an air brake during the approach and landing
FlareThe action of "holding the aircraft off", to reduce the descent rate, during landing
GFTGeneral Flight Test
Great CircleThe shortest line joining two points on the earth's surface
Ground SpeedThe speed of an aeroplane relative to the earth's surface
IASThe airspeed as shown by an airspeed indicator
IATAInternational Air Traffic Association
ICANInternational Commission for Air Navigation
IFRInstrument Flight Rules
ILSInstrument Landing System
IMCInstrument Meteorological Conditions
Induced DragWing drag associated with lift
International Standard AtmosphereAn imaginary atmosphere that assumes at mean sea level a temperature of 15° C and a pressure of 1,013·2 millibars, and a fall in temperature of 6·5°C per 1,000m of increased height from sea level up to 11,000m, above which height the temperature is assumed constant at 56·5°C
IsothermA line on a weather map drawn through points of equal temperature
JAAJoint Aviation Authority
JARJoint Aviation Requirements
Katabatic WindA local wind produced by the downward motion of cold air off high ground
KnotA nautical unit of speed being equal to one nautical mile (6,080ft) per hour
Laminar FlowAirflow free of turbulence
LandingThe act of bringing an aeroplane under full control into contact with the ground
Landing RunThe distance between the first point of contact with the ground and the point at which the aeroplane comes to rest
Lateral AxisStraight line through the centre of gravity that runs parallel with the line that would run from wing tip to wing tip
Leading EdgeThe forward edge of a streamline body or aerofoil
LiftThe component in a vertical, upward direction in straight and level flight of the resultant force created by the relative wind acting on the lifting surfaces of an aeroplane
Longitudinal AxisStraight line through the centre of gravity that runs parallel with the line that would run from nose to tail
Magnetic CourseThe angle (measured in a clockwise direction) between the course of an aeroplane and Magnetic North
Magnetic Track AngleThe angle (measured in a clockwise direction) between the track of an aeroplane and Magnetic North
METMeteorological information (weather reports)
MonocoqueA method of construction in which the skin carries the whole or the greater part of the main loads. Most modern training aircraft are of a monocoque design
N. 1Navigator responsible for the navigation of the aircraft
N. 2Navigator acting under the supervision of the Pilot in Command
N. U/TNavigator under training
NATSNational Air Traffic Service
Navigation LightIdentifying lights on an aircraft can be used to identify the presence of an aircraft and its direction of movement, especially at night. A complete set of navigation lights comprise a red light on the port wingtip, a green light on the starboard wingtip and a white light at the tail
NDBNon Directional Beacon
NFTNavigation Flight Test
NOTAMNotice to Airmen
NPPLNational Private Pilot's Licence
P. 1Pilot in Command
P. 1/SPilot in Command Under supervision
P. 2Second Pilot exercising the privileges of his licence as a required member of the operating crew
P. U/UStudent Pilot; Pilot under training
PitchThe angle by which the nose of an aircraft is inclined up or down from the horizontal
Pitot TubeA tube with an open end, exposed to the airstream. This is part of an airspeed indicator.
PortThe left side (looking forward) of the aircraft.
PPLPrivate Pilot's Licence
PPRPrior Permission Required
Profile DragSum of the drag caused by surface friction and pressure
QDMRequest magnetic heading to steer towards…..with no wind
QDRRequest magnetic bearing from
QFESetting on the subscale of the altimeter so that the instrument shows height above the reference elevation being used
QNEThe indicated reading on an altimeter when the subscale is set to 1013.2
QNHSetting on the subscale of the altimeter so that the instrument shows elevation or altitude above sea level
QTETrue great circle bearing to an aircraft from a station
RudderNormally hinged to the fin, this vertical moving surface is for directional management and blance of the aircraft.
SATCOSenior Air Traffic Controller
SoloFlight and Flight time recorded when unaccompanied by a supervising pilot
SquawkTransmit via Transponder
StallThis is nothing to do with the engine! The wing of an aeroplane is said to stall when the smooth flow over the top surface breaks down and degenerates into turbulence. The amount of lift generated suddenly drops as does the wing. It is essential that pilot's learn how to recover from a spin.
StarboardRight-hand side of an aeroplane when looking forward.