If an airline flight is everything that happens in between your starting and ending gates. What is the generic term for each time the plane ascends or descends during an air route? In layman terms, what terminology would define the four '_____?' equally as four separate things.

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If the image below indicates the proper terminology for a flight. What is the hypernym for phase 3/4 and phase 6/7 of the air route?

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    $\begingroup$ The act of going up and down is called a "cycle". In aviation there is no word to describe both the climb/descent sections as far as I'm aware. I guess you could call it a half-cycle... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 20, 2016 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ Are you assuming that there necessarily is such a term? $\endgroup$
    – user13148
    Jun 20, 2016 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


Since a hyperonym can be a word or phrase, I'd go for a non-cruise airborne segment. Or N-CAS, as it'll be known from this moment in history.

The ICAO Common Taxonomy Team (pdf) doesn't have a term for it though.

From that document you can call 4, 5, and 6 (from your diagram) just en-route. And I don't see harm in expanding that term to include 3 and 7 as well (for the purposes of the question).

Also during cruise, some planes continue to climb in steps, it's called a step-climb. In that case you end up with multiple climb and cruise phases.

Which makes me think of stepping.

Officially there's no answer to your question, "en-route" fits in fine and is official, and "stepping" (up or down) would exclude the cruise as you requested, it works from a technical (albeit very broad) standpoint. But it can't be used officially or otherwise if you ask me.

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    $\begingroup$ is this phillia of 3- or 4-letter abbreviations common to all aviation people? It seems so. :D $\endgroup$
    – yo'
    Jun 21, 2016 at 9:03

I would say the hypernym is "transition." You transition from climb to cruise and from cruise to descend. And transition, which is a term used in aviation discussions, fits nicely. To transition from cruise to descend you have to reduce power, retrim the aircraft, and do a number of other things depending on the particular plane. This "transition" from cruise to descent even has it's own check list as does the transition from climb to cruise.


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