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Questions tagged [terminology]

For questions about words, phrases, and definitions that are specific to aviation or used in a different way in aviation. (Questions about standard words, phrases, and abbreviations used by pilots and ATC specifically in radio transmissions should usually use the [phraseology] tag instead.)

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55 votes
3 answers
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What are the differences between Bearing vs Course vs Direction vs Heading vs Track?

This answer from English.SE does not focus on aviation, and does not explain 'Track'. In basic, simple English, would you please compare and contrast all 5 terms in my question's title? The ...
user avatar
52 votes
3 answers
6k views

What is a "runaway supercharger"?

During World War 2, my uncle was a navigator for a B-17G bomber based in the UK. On return from a bombing run over Frankfurt, the crew was forced to bail out over Belgium at 3000 feet altitude. My ...
Steve Kaz's user avatar
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48 votes
4 answers
14k views

What is a running rabbit?

My father used to work as an air traffic controller, and often I heard mention of a 'running rabbit'. Obviously, vermin on the runways of airports can be a bad thing, but I don't think he was ...
David Wilkins's user avatar
45 votes
4 answers
23k views

Why is the autopilot called "George?"

The autopilot of an airplane is frequently referred to as "George" (for example, in this answer). When did this nickname enter common usage, and what is its origin? Please cite sources if possible!
TypeIA's user avatar
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41 votes
2 answers
6k views

What does the letter G mean in a runway identifier?

Boulder Municipal Airport (KBDU) has runways 8 / 26 and also runways 8G / 26G. What is the significance of the letter G following the runway numbers?
slantalpha's user avatar
  • 4,223
38 votes
2 answers
16k views

What do jet pilots say during the takeoff as they are speeding down the runway?

I was watching a documentary on youtube and the pilots always say something that sounds like "B1E" when they have enough speed to take off. What exactly are they saying, and why do they say it?
cowboysaif's user avatar
38 votes
3 answers
107k views

What is the difference between "flight level" and "altitude"?

I have seen references to "FL180" and "FL300", and I know that they stand for Flight Level 180 and Flight Level 300. I've also seen references to "an altitude of 18000ft" or "an altitude of 30000ft". ...
FreeMan's user avatar
  • 16.4k
34 votes
7 answers
8k views

What does “Ground loops are costly. Fly them until they stop” mean?

In one of the earliest scenes of William A. Wellman's 1942 film Thunder Birds, a sign can be seen in a room of a USAAF base (some relax or briefing room, apparently), which says: Ground loops are ...
DaG's user avatar
  • 959
33 votes
3 answers
14k views

Why do we call moving an aircraft on the ground "taxi"?

We all know what "taxi" means to general public -- a car which carries you from A to B in exchange for your paying a fare. "Taxi" also means to drive an aircraft on the ground. Why do we call it that?...
kevin's user avatar
  • 39.8k
32 votes
2 answers
184k views

What is the difference between centre of pressure, aerodynamic centre and neutral point?

I have just started learning some aerospace concepts, and I am not able to understand the difference between the three terms centre of pressure, aerodynamic centre and neutral point. What are their ...
Tarun Mohandas's user avatar
28 votes
6 answers
11k views

What is the difference between a flow and a checklist?

Use of checklists is a 'special emphasis area' during FAA private and commercial checkrides but there are a lot of comments in pilot forums about using flows instead, often - but not always - in the ...
Pondlife's user avatar
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27 votes
2 answers
9k views

What is a rubber engine?

I hear it a lot in engine design , I think that belongs to some phase about we can change the engine parameters according to requirements but I am not sure about it.
deniz can elçi's user avatar
26 votes
7 answers
8k views

At what point does an aircraft become an airliner?

For me, the term 'airliner' conjures up an image of a passenger jet that is capable of hosting a large number of passengers¹ but I'm finding it difficult to source a reputable definition or etymology ...
user avatar
26 votes
5 answers
95k views

What does the term "trimming" most commonly mean in aviation?

Why does an airplane need trim, and what does it do during the flight? Does an autopilot adjust the trim automatically?
Haris's user avatar
  • 1,037
25 votes
10 answers
68k views

What's the difference between a balked landing and a go-around?

Is there a difference between a balked landing and a go-around? If there is, what exactly is a balked landing?
user1640841's user avatar
25 votes
1 answer
4k views

What do the 3-character aircraft type codes mean?

On some aircraft lists, including Eurocontrol's Aircraft Performance Database, aircraft have a 3 character code as their type. For example, an Airbus A320neo has a type of "L2J", a Boeing ...
Rowan Richards's user avatar
23 votes
4 answers
32k views

What is it called when an airplane has to circle because it can't land?

Sometimes, a plane is required to circle around an airport repeatedly because for whatever reason, it is not able or permitted to land just yet. This state in which a plane is stuck in the air in ...
TheEnvironmentalist's user avatar
23 votes
3 answers
5k views

What does the term "tanker" mean when used in regards to a passenger airliner?

In a comment on this answer: Airlines will tanker fuel if it's substantially cheaper at another airport I've wondered what that term meant before, and now this comment leads me to think that ...
Steve's user avatar
  • 2,218
23 votes
3 answers
10k views

What exactly is the meaning of "detent" in aviation?

I come across it in many different situations e.g. "settings changed to flight detent" or "landing altitude changes at first detent". There are other scenarios which I came across in the past, but I ...
kg1913's user avatar
  • 581
23 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why is the "Dutch" roll called so?

Why is the "Dutch" roll called so? When did this name enter common usage, and what is its origin? Please cite sources if possible!
Raj's user avatar
  • 2,088
22 votes
1 answer
17k views

What does "Boeing" mean?

We know about the existence of Boeing planes like the 737, 747, and other planes. But where did the name "Boeing" come from?
JeanExtreme002's user avatar
22 votes
5 answers
25k views

What exactly do "captain", "pilot", "co-pilot" and "first officer" mean?

I know the co-pilot sits beside the pilot. But it's not clear for me, who is the captain and who is the first officer? And where they are sitting during the flight? Who is in right seat and who is in ...
AirCraft Lover's user avatar
22 votes
1 answer
21k views

What is the difference between aviation "accident" and "incident"?

When I hear speaking about aviation crashes, sometimes I hear about "accidents" and other times about "incidents". What distinguishes them? Is there an international standard that determines how ...
Federico's user avatar
  • 32.6k
22 votes
3 answers
33k views

What is the difference between a fix, a waypoint and an intersection?

It seems these terms are used interchangeably. Are they the same thing? Do they all refer to the points in space that are given 5-letter names?
TomMcW's user avatar
  • 28.6k
21 votes
3 answers
52k views

What is the difference between GPS, GNSS and RNAV?

I would like to know the fundamental difference between GPS, GNSS and RNAV. How are they related each other? Are all/some of them synonyms?
Francesco C's user avatar
  • 1,537
21 votes
2 answers
22k views

Why do we call it an apron?

Where did the term apron come from? Follow up question as suggested by @Pyritie.
TomMcW's user avatar
  • 28.6k
20 votes
6 answers
7k views

What is a "pickle switch" in civil aviation?

In an episode of "Air Crash Investigation" the term "pickle switch" was used. I tried to search this term in all the resources available to me and I didn't find any citation, ...
Christian Vincenzo Traina's user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
11k views

What is the difference between fail-safe and fail-soft?

I have heard the following terms related to safe system design but I cannot really see a difference between fail-safe and fail-soft (graceful degradation). To get a common understanding I will just ...
MrYouMath's user avatar
  • 649
20 votes
3 answers
23k views

What are the differences between various simulator levels?

I've heard of level A, B, C, and D simulators, (as well as FTD and AATDs) but know nothing about them. What criteria is used to certify a sim as a particular level?
Steve V.'s user avatar
  • 23.3k
19 votes
5 answers
9k views

Is there a difference between "aerobatic" and "acrobatic" flight?

I hear and read both the terms "aerobatic" and "acrobatic" used to describe the more extreme maneuvers such as spins, rolls, loops and more. My questions is about the terms themselves. It seems that ...
ryan1618's user avatar
  • 14.9k
19 votes
3 answers
4k views

How exactly should I understand the term "accidental hull loss"?

How can the IATA claim that the year 2015 saw no accidental hull losses, if we had the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident? Even if this one is not considered "an accident" then there are a few others (...
trejder's user avatar
  • 4,160
19 votes
5 answers
2k views

What exactly is a "drone"?

I was under the impression that things like this: and soon this and even this Are drones. When and how did the media and the general public get the idea that these: Are also drones? I'm not ...
Keegan's user avatar
  • 6,897
19 votes
2 answers
9k views

Why do we call it a ramp?

Airport ramps are close to level, not inclined. What is the history and etymology of this aviation term?
Greg Bacon's user avatar
  • 5,710
18 votes
8 answers
4k views

What would be a technical or slang term for 'in the air'?

I'm writing a sci-fi story involving aircraft and space craft. I'm struggling to get the terminology right for referring to a pilot being 'in the air' either on a mission or a training exercise. I ...
tommypyatt's user avatar
18 votes
3 answers
4k views

Is it still "landing" in a seaplane?

This probably sounds like a silly question, but I was watching floatplanes land on Lake Union, Seattle, and it got me wondering whether a plane that touches down onto water is still talked about as "...
Azor Ahai -him-'s user avatar
18 votes
5 answers
54k views

What is the difference between slice, segment and leg?

I have heard of the terms slice, segment and leg. Since I am a newbie in travel industry, I would like to know and understand the basic differences between the three. Could someone please explain ...
djames's user avatar
  • 283
18 votes
3 answers
12k views

What's an "altitude engine"?

FAR 91.205(b)(8) says that you need a manifold pressure gauge for each "altitude engine", whatever that means. What's an "altitude" engine?
Steve V.'s user avatar
  • 23.3k
18 votes
2 answers
68k views

What is the history of "Joker" and "Bingo" fuel terms?

Why do we use, in military aircraft, the words "Joker" and "Bingo" to indicate the fuel status of the aircraft? What is the history of these two terms?
Carlo Nava's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
17k views

What is the difference between "sensitive" and "non-sensitive" altimeters?

In this answer reference was made to "sensitive" and "non-sensitive" altimeters. What is the definition of each, what are the differences, and why would one be used in preference to the other? And ...
FreeMan's user avatar
  • 16.4k
17 votes
2 answers
10k views

What does it mean to "firewall" an aircraft engine?

I (think) I understand what a firewall is (at least, in a single engine aircraft where the engine is at the front of the fuselage), but what does it mean "to firewall" an aircraft's engines, as ...
user7645895's user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
73k views

What is the difference between a nacelle and a cowling?

I see these terms used almost interchangeably. To my understanding they both refer to the covering of an engine. Is there a technical difference between the two?
jskypilot's user avatar
  • 3,839
17 votes
1 answer
3k views

What does the abbreviation "SCMOH", related to an engine overhaul, mean?

Scrolling through controller.com. I noticed this, "121.3 SCMOH". Does anyone know what this means?
Boeing787's user avatar
  • 6,484
17 votes
2 answers
24k views

What exactly is a QRH?

In this question about aircraft dumping fuel I was told that there may possible be guidance in the QRH. I know that there are a lot of guidelines given to pilots, but I've never heard of this one. ...
Jae Carr's user avatar
  • 24.2k
17 votes
1 answer
1k views

If an airplane touches down short of the runway, and doesn't reach it, is it still a runway excursion?

In light of the two recent incidents where aircraft landed roughly 1000 ft short of their intended runways, Air Canada AC-624 at Halifax and Asiana OZ-162 at Hiroshima, I started thinking the ...
falstro's user avatar
  • 11.8k
16 votes
2 answers
4k views

Does a Boeing 747-830 exist and if it does, is there any difference to a 747-8 (748)

Two years ago I've uploaded a video of the Lufthansas Boeing 747 "D-ABYA" to Youtube. I am currently receiving some angry comments on that video because the title reads "747-830 with ...
Marv's user avatar
  • 263
16 votes
4 answers
12k views

What is a canard?

While browsing this Stack Exchange, I regularly come across mentions of canards. I am not familiar with this term, and Google only gives information about ducks when I search for "canard". So, what is ...
Nzall's user avatar
  • 892
16 votes
2 answers
9k views

What is meant by "Fox Two"?

Numerous Movies, Video Games, and TV shows featuring fighter pilots depict the pilots calling out "Fox Two" on the radio as they fire a missile. The transmission (as depicted, I'm not sure ...
abelenky's user avatar
  • 30.8k
16 votes
6 answers
22k views

Are "Tally-ho" and "no joy" acceptable ATC terms for civil operations?

I keep meaning to ask this question. I heard "Tally-ho" used for the first time by a pilot on Liveatc.net. I know these are pretty standard phrases in military aviation but I wondered if civil pilots ...
TomMcW's user avatar
  • 28.6k
16 votes
3 answers
10k views

Why is it called "Dry Thrust"?

When reading the specifications of a jet aircraft anywhere on the Internet, it usually states that its engine produces X pounds of "dry thrust". Why is it called "Dry" Thrust? As opposed to what?
Taher Elhouderi's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
82k views

What is the origin of the term "pax"?

Pax in commercial transport is used as something like persons or passengers, in the context of counting people, e.g. 150 pax onboard. (Amadeus capture, source) I observed that in German writers tend ...
mins's user avatar
  • 75.3k

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