Insurance Aviation Terms Glossary

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Insurance Aviation Terms & Definitions

Insurance Aviation Terms Glossary

Insurance Aviation Terms Glossary. Insurance professionals faced with the prospect of dealing with aircraft owners and/or operators are also exposed to the unique language that accompanies the world of aviation.

Aviation uses and exposures consist of a wide variety of activities, both personal and commercial (not to mention government or military) ventures.

The Insurance Aviation Terms Glossary should help you with some of the jargon and legal ease used in the aviation insurance industry.

Read the Insurance Aviation Terms Glossary to better understand aviation insurance policy language and coverages.

Insurance Aviation Terms Glossary And Definitions

Following are aviation terms and definitions used, alphabetically organized.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


AAF - Army Airfield.

above ground level - Altitude measurement above a specific land mass.

absolute ceiling - Under Standard Air Conditions, this is the highest (above sea level) altitude at which an aircraft can fly levelly.

ACAS - Airborne Collision-Avoidance System

accessory group - Generic reference to any devices that are mounted on and essential to the operation of an aircraft engine.

AD - See airworthiness directive.

ADC - See air data computer.

adcock range - A radio navigation system, predecessor to the omnirange system.

ADDR - See air data dead reckoning.

ADF - See automatic direction finder.

Adiabatic Lapse Rate - A measure of how air cools or heats as it ascends or descends in the atmosphere.

ADIZ - See Air Defense Identification Zone.

adverse yaw - Refers to drag generated by lifted the moveable panels (ailerons) on a wing. The drag or yaw induces a plane to turn in that direction.

aerodynamics - A field of fluid dynamics that studies how gases, including air, flow and how forces act upon objects moving through air.

Aeronautical Information Manual - A manual published by the FAA with operation instructions to pilots on the United States' National Airspace System.

aeronautics - The study of flight and the science of building and operating an aircraft.

aerodynes - Craft that are heavier than air.

aerostats - Craft that are lighter than air.

AFB - Air Force Base.

AFCS - See automatic flight control system.

A/FD - Airport/Facility Directory.

AFTN - Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network.

AGL - See above ground level.

aileron - The movable parts of a wing that are used to control various aircraft movement.

AIM - Aeronautical Information Manual.

air data computer - A navigation device with sensors that measure air pressure, temperatures and, typically, airspeed.

air data dead reckoning - Refers to navigation using simple instruments such as airspeed indicator, barometric altimeter, compass, etc.

Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) - Any designated airspace within which a plan is mandated to provide complete identification and control information in order to comply with national security measures.

aircraft - A machine used for flying. Airplanes, helicopters, blimps and jets are all aircraft.

airflow - The motion of air molecules as they flow around an object, such as a wing.

airfoil - Typically refers to the shape of a flying area or surface, such as what is formed by a cross-section of a wing.

airframe - Refers to an aircraft's body and parts, excluding propellers and engine's rotating airfoils.

airmen's certificate - The actual term for pilot's license that indicates the pilot's qualification for operating broad classes of aircraft (e.g., student, commercial, sport, balloon, etc.)

airmen's certificate number - The number assigned to a given pilot's airmen's certificate AKA pilot license number.

Airmen's Meteorological Information - A pilot advisory that reports on notable weather conditions.

airmet - Airmen's Meteorological Information.

air pressure - The force created by air pushing on a surface.

Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) - A facility that provides control and traffic information during a specified phase of flight (made according to IFR flight plans).

air speed indicator - An instrument that measures an aircraft's speed through an air mass.

air taxi - Aircraft operators who hire themselves out on an on-demand basis. Crafts used by taxi services must not exceed 30 passenger seats.

air worthiness directive - Refers to either a single bulletin or list of notifications from the Federal Aviation Administration concerning unsafe aircraft operator situations discovered by its inspectors or which have been reported from other, reliable sources. This information is made available to all interested persons.

airport traffic control tower - A facility that controls air and ground traffic at its airport (including authorizing landings and takeoffs) and assists aircraft while it is traveling in its area.

ALCLAD - Trademark name of two-layered form of aluminum that is commonly used in building aircraft.

all-up weight - The total, permissible weight at which a plane can fly under normal operating conditions.

ALD - See available landing distance.

ALPA - Air Line Pilots Association.

alphabet - See phonetic alphabet.

ALR - See Adiabatic Lapse Rate.

ALS - Approach Light System.

altimeter - A device that determines (measures) an aircraft's altitude.

altitude - The height of an object, like an airplane, above sea level or above the earth's surface.

altitude indicator - See artificial horizon.

AMEL - Airplane Multi-engine, Land.

amphibian - See seaplane.

anhedral - Refers to a wing's downward angle (as viewed by a cross-section).

angle of attack - The degree at which an aircraft's wings initially enters the air.

annual - Refers to an aircraft's required power plant and airframe inspection that must be performed each year.

ANS - Air Navigation Services

aproach control - See radio navigation.

apron - The designated area of an airport where aircraft parking, loading, unloading and refueling occurs.

ARINC - Aeronautical Radio Inc.

ARTCC - See Air Route Traffic Control Center.

artificial horizon - A control panel instrument that displays an aircraft's altitude.

ASEL - Airplane Single Engine, Land.

ASOS - Automated Surface Observation System.

ASR - Airport Surveillance Radar.

ATB - Air Transport Association of America.

ATC - Air Traffic Control.

ATCT - Airport Traffic Control Tower.

ATIS - Automatic Terminal Information Service.

ATM - Air Traffic Management.

ATP - Airline Transport Pilot.

ATSP - Air Traffic Service Providers.

automatic direction finder - Radio equipment that automatically seeks radio broadcast signals, isolates their direction and then transmits the finding to a pilot to facilitate navigation.

automatic flight control system - See Autopilot.

autogyro - A form of rotary wing aircraft. It has blades that rotate due to air movement caused by the craft's engine.

autopilot - An automatic system that controls primary flight functions such as heading (direction) and altitude.

auto-rotation - Refers to a helicopter or autogyro blades' rotation that is created without assistance of direct engine power.

available landing distance - The runway area that is made available for aircraft landings and roll-outs.

aviation - The operation of aircraft. There are three types of aviation: general, commercial and military.

avgas - Short for aviation gasoline, the fuel especially formulated for use in aircraft which is, typically, colored blue.

AWOS - Automated Weather Observation System.

axis - A straight line, through the center of gravity, around which an aircraft rotates. For example, an aircraft rolls around its longitudinal axis which is a straight line that runs through the center of the aircraft from the nose to the tail.


balanced control surface - A rudder or similar, movable surface that is typically weighted and is used to relieve stress on aircraft controls (such as a joystick).

balked landing - A landing attempt that is not completed due to sub-par landing circumstances or as part of an aircraft's assessment.

BAR - Board of Airline Representatives.

Baseline Zonal Inspection - Refers to a normal or base (starting point) maintenance for aircraft under a Repair Assessment Program.

BCBP - Bar Coded Boarding Passes.

beacon - A ground-based device that aircraft operators can use to determine their position or direction.

Bernoulli Effect - Principle that explains how lift is created because the velocity of air movement over the upper part of an airfoil is faster than the movement past the lower portion.

biplane - An airplane with two sets of wings. The first airplane ever built had two sets of wings, one on top of the other.

bird control - A procedure to minimize the appearance of birds such as use of chemical repellents, noisemakers, modified habitats, etc.

blade angle - The angle composed of propeller's plane of rotation and the blade's face (as opposed to blade edge).

bleed air - Hot air located in part of a gas turbine engine that is available for de-icing or heating.

block altitude - The assigned altitude range in which an aircraft may operate during a giving flight that safely accommodates necessary altitude changes.

boot - A wing-mounted, inflatable device that is used for de-icing.

borescope - A tool that allows inspection of an aircraft's interior without resorting to disassembly.

boundary-layer control - A perforated or slotted wing which acts as a suction to reduce certain, undesired aerodynamic effects.

bumped cowling - An engine fairing (item that reduces drag) that is designed with spots for accommodating cylinder heads.

BZI - See Baseline Zonal Inspection.


CAA - Civil Aviation Authority.

CAB - Civil Aviation Board.

cabane strut - A wing's diagonal support that is attached to an aircraft's fuselage.

cabin pressurizing - Process of creating and maintaining cabin pressure at a level that is safe for passengers.

calibrated airspeed - An aircraft's airspeed that has been corrected for position and instrument error.

camber - Refers to an airfoil's curved (concave or convex) surfaces.

canard - An aircraft that has one or more horizontal stabilizers mounted in front of its wings.

CAP - See Civil Air Patrol.

CAS - See calibrated airspeed.

CAT - Clear Air Turbulence.

CAVU - See ceiling and visibility unlimited.

CBP - Customs and Border Protection.

CBT - Computer Based Training.

CDA - Continuous Descent Approach.

ceiling - The area above the earth's surface that can be navigated by an aircraft without obstruction.

ceiling and visibility unlimited - Refers to perfect weather for operating an aircraft.

center - See Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).

center of gravity - An aircraft's balance point.

certificate - Generally refers to a pilot's license that certifies an individual's ability to operate aircraft at a given level.

certificated airport - An airport that meets certain federal safety and operating regulations, typically serving both scheduled and unscheduled aircraft having more than 30 passenger seats.

certificated flight instructor - A commercial-level pilot with advanced training and experience who is qualified by the FAA to provide a specified level (for instance, single engine, helicopter, instrument) flight instruction.

CFIT - Controlled Flight Into Terrain.

chord line - A line from the front of an airfoil (the leading edge) to the trailing edge.

civil air patrol - Association of pilots that, under the direction of various military and civil authorities, assist in a variety of critical operations such as disaster relief, search and rescue missions, emergency passenger and medical transport, etc.

CFI - See Certificated Flight Instructor.

CFII - Certificated Flight Instructor Instrument.

CG - See center of gravity.

chord - A wing's depth, measured between its leading and trailing edges.

clearance - The spacing between flights authorized by air traffic control that is used to prevent aircraft collisions.

coaming - Refers to a protective foam surface that encircles an open cockpit.

coastal air defense identification zone - Refers to an "ADIZ" that's located over the United States coastal waters.

cockpit - A compartment in the front of the airplane where the flight crew performs their job of flying the aircraft.

cockpit voice recorder - Recorder that tapes conversations in the cockpit as an aide in investigating aviation accidents.

coffin corner - Points in high altitudes where changes in speed and angle of attack can result in buffeting airflow over an aircraft's airfoil, causing dangerous loss of control.

collective - A rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft control used to adjust lift and rotor pitch.

collector ring - A duct on certain aircraft engines that is designed to capture cylinder gas exhaust.

commercial aviation - The business of operating aircraft that carry passengers by commercial companies. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) - The science of using supercomputers to solve complex mathematical equations that predict how an object like an aircraft responds to the air flowing around it. CFD is a tool of aeronautics that enables engineers to "fly an aircraft in a computer."

constant-speed propeller - A hydraulic control that, by an automatic adjustment of its blades, maintains an aircraft engine's optimum performance.

contact flight - Navigating a plane by visual reference to the ground and landmarks.

contour flight - Navigating a plane over mountainous terrain by visual reference to the area's contours.

control surfaces - Parts of an aircraft that are activated by the controls to change the airflow around the surfaces of the aircraft.

controls - Devices which allow the pilot to direct the movements of an aircraft.

conventional gear - See taildragger.

CRS - Computer Reservations System.

CT - Control Tower.

CTAF - Common Traffic Advisory Frequency.

CVR - See cockpit voice recorder.

CWA - Center Weather Advisory.


Day of Discovery - The day in which any equipment or part malfunction is first noted in an aircraft maintenance log. book.

dead reckoning - See air data dead reckoning.

deadstick - A descending flight path unassisted by the force of either an engine or a propeller.

decelerate - When an airplane comes in to land, it decelerates, or slows down, and rolls to a stop.

delta-wing - A wing that is shaped like a triangle.

departure control - The entity to which local air traffic control transfers oversight of departing aircraft.

desalt - Short for desired altitude.

detonation - Uncontrolled explosions that occur within the cylinders of a reciprocating engine.

DF - Direction Finder.

DFDR - Digital Flight Data Recorder.

DH - Decision Height.

dihedral - Refers to a wing's upward angle (as viewed by a cross-section).

dip error - See magnetic dip.

directional stability - The nature of aircrafts to remain flying where they are pointed.

dirigible - A type of lighter-than-aircraft.

disposable load - The total weight of a plane's occupants (or crew) and consumable fuel (in non-military aircraft).

distance measuring equipment - Navigation devices that, generally, measure the distance from an aircraft to a ground station.

DME - See distance measuring equipment.

drag - Aerodynamic resistance.

drag wire - A wire installed on an aircraft to counteract forces that create aerodynamic resistance (drag).

dry weight - An engine's weight, net of the weight of engine liquids and fuel.

DVFR - Defense Visual Flight Rules.


EASA - European Aviation Safety Authority. See JAA.

EAS - Equivalent Airspeed.

EDI - Electronic Data Interchange.

EFAS - En Route Flight Advisory Service.

EFC - Expect Further Clearance.

elephant ear - Usually refers to air intakes located on opposite sides of an aircraft's fuselage.

elevator - A control mounted on a wing in order to control and aircraft's pitch.

elevon - See flaperon.

ELT - Emergency Locator Transmitter.

emergency overrun - A landing surface located near the end of a regular runway. It accommodates aircraft that fails to stop within the regular landing area.

empennage - Refers to an aircraft's control devices that are mounted on its rear portion, includes the elevator, fin, rudder and stabilizer.

engine - An airplane normally has either jet engines or engines that drive one or more propellers. The engines provide the thrust force that pushes the airplane through the air.

engine cowl - A metal covering surrounding an aircraft engine.

enplanement - When a paying passenger enters (boards) a plane.

equipment status - Merely the operating state of a given piece of aviation-related device.

ESA - Emergency Safe Altitude.

ET - Electronic Ticketing.

ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival.

ETE - Estimated Time En Route.

ETS - Emissions Trading Scheme.


FAA - Federal Aviation Administration.

FAF - Final Approach Fix.

FBO - See Fixed-Base Operator.

FDA - Flight Data Analysis.

FDC - Flight Data Center.

FDR - Flight Data Recorder.

feathering - Adjusting an aircraft's propeller during engine failure in an attempt to reduce drag and craft rotation (windmilling).

ferry flight - Any flight with the goal of transporting an aircraft to a specific location or base or for roundtrip maintenance.

fin - Another word for the vertical portion of the tail.

FIR - Flight Information Region.

fishtailing - Refers to moving a rudder back and forth (sideways) before landing as a method to reduce airspeed.

five-by-five - An affirmation that a radio transmission was heard with maximum clarity and volume (both transmission aspects are rated on an ascending, 5-point scale).

fixed-base operator - A company that is located at an airport that provides a variety of aviation services such as aircraft sales/rental, flying lessons, refueling, and plane maintenance.

FL - Flight Level.

flap - An extension attached to a wing that may be manually or automatically operated to increase/decrease and aircraft's wing area.

flaperon - A hinged component that is usually attached to a delta winged aircraft. It assists with controlling a flight's longitude.

flight plan - A planned route that, besides beginning/ending locations, includes interim navigation reference points.

flight simulation - A tool of aeronautics in which a flight simulator on the ground is used to create an environment where a pilot sees, hears and feels like he or she is in a real aircraft.

Flight Standards District Office - An FAA facility that distributes weather information and accepts flight plan filings.

flight test - A tool of aeronautics in which a real aircraft is flown to gather data which will accurately describe the capabilities of that aircraft. Flight tests are used to investigate how fast, how far and how high an aircraft can go; also, how it handles and performs.

floatplane - See seaplane.

FMS - Flight Management System.

forward sweep wing - A wing that is swept toward the front of the airplane, unlike most fast airplanes which have wings that are swept toward the back of the airplane. The X-29 aircraft is an example of a supersonic jet that has forward sweep wings.

FSDO - See Flight Standards District Office.

FSS - Flight Service Station.

full stall - a serious stall in which the ability to raise an aircraft's nose is lost.

fuselage - The portion of an aircraft that contains the craft's crew and/or cargo and passengers.


GADO - General Aviation District Office.

galley - Kitchen/meal preparation area.

GASAG - Global Aviation Security Action Group.

GDS - Global Distribution System. glass cockpit - A cockpit consisting completely of electronic and computerized controls.

glider - An unpowered aircraft that is towed in order to achieve altitude and then flies by sliding along air currents toward a landing.

glide slope - Typically, refers to the angle of an aircraft's glide with respect to a horizontal surface.

GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems.

GPS - Global Positioning System.

general aviation - Describes any type of aviation class (civil) with the exception of major commercial operations and Civil Aeronautics Board certified air carriers.

GPWS - Ground Proximity Warning System. ground effect - The lift created by the interaction between the ground and aircraft that is traveling very closely to the ground (such as during takeoff and landing).

ground speed - Aircraft speed over the ground that is determined by the craft's airspeed and the effect of relative wind speed. The wind speed is also affected by the craft's flight direction, so the ground speed may be either faster or slower that the airspeed.

GS - Glide slope.

GSP - Ground Service Provider.

gyroplane - See autogyro.


HAA - Height Above Airport.

HAT - Height Above Touchdown.

heading indicator - A gyro-controlled instrument that monitors an aircraft's current heading (direction).

hold bars - Taxiway markings consisting of pairs of solid and dashed lines. They indicate spot where a place must sit until it gets clearance to use the runway.

hold line - See hold bars.

Heavy Maintenance Visit - A comprehensive, scheduled, multi-day inspection to determine an aircraft's airworthiness.

HF - High Frequency.

high-speed stall - Intentionally disrupting an aircraft's powered flight in order to pull out of a dive or to make a turn.

HIRL - High Intensity Runway Light.

HIWAS - Hazardous In-flight Weather Advisory Service.

HIS - Horizon Situation Indicator.

HMV - See heavy maintenance visit.

hold bars - Taxiway markings consisting of pairs of solid and dashed lines. They indicate spot where a place must sit until it gets clearance to use the runway.

hold line - See hold bars.

holding pattern - See pattern.

horizontal stabilizer - The horizontal part of the tail. The horizontal stabilizer helps to increase the stability of the aircraft.

hypersonic - Velocity greater than five times the speed of sound.

hypoxia - A condition ranging from light dizziness, unconsciousness or even death due to a lack of oxygen (caused by high altitude).


IACA - International Air Carrier Association.

IAF - Initial Approach Fix.

IAP - Instrument Approach Procedure.

IAPA - International Airline Passengers Association.

IAS - Indicated Airspeed.

IATA - International Air Transport Association

IATF - International Airline Training Fund.

ICAO - International Civil Aviation Organization.

IFALPA - International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations.

IFATCA - International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations.

IFR - Instrument Flight Rules

IFSP - In-flight security personnel.

ILS - See Instrument Landing System.

IM - Inner Marker.

IMC - Instrument Meteorological Conditions.

instrument landing system - Equipment that provides precise lateral longitudinal and vertical guidance for approaching and landing on a runway.

instrument rating - Certification that indicates a pilot is capable of flying an aircraft using instruments and following air traffic control directions which is necessary when weather or other conditions limits visibility.

instruments - Tools used to observe, measure and control. For example, pilots use instruments to measure and observe the altitude, speed and direction of an aircraft.


JAR - Joint Airworthiness Regulations.

JATO - Jet Assisted Takeoff.

JAA - See Joint Aviation Authorities.

jet engine - An engine that works by creating a high-velocity jet of air to propel the engine forward.

jet stream - High altitude, high velocity, narrow windstream that usually travel from east to west.

Jetway - Trademarked name for an aircraft loading bridge.

Joint Aviation Authorities - The JAA serves as a source for creating and promoting use of common aircraft certification codes, so it has been a critical part of the European Aircraft Industry. Besides certificates for aircraft and aircraft engines, it also assists with setting standards for aircraft design, operations, licensing and maintenance.

JPDO - FAA acronym for Joint Planning and Development Office.


kbps - Kilobits per second.

KIAS - Knots Indicated Airspeed.

kinetic energy - Energy caused by the effect of velocity on mass (motion).

KTAS - Knots True Airspeed.

Kollsman Window - An altimeter. It measures barometric pressure in order to accurately determine a plane's altitude.


LAA - Local Airport Advisory.

LAHSO - Land And Hold Short Operations.

landing gear - Another word for undercarriage. The landing gear is often retractable - it can be pulled into the fuselage of the aircraft to reduce drag.

lateral axis - The axis extending through the center of gravity of an aircraft, and parallel to a line connecting the tips of the wings. Pitch is a motion around the lateral axis.

LDA - Localizer Type Directional Aid.

leading edge - The front edge of an airfoil. The leading edge is normally rounded and thicker than the trailing edge.

lift - A force that is perpendicular to the airflow around an aircraft. In normal, forward flight, the lift force "lifts" the aircraft into the air.

line maintenance - Term that is applied to normal, minor aircraft maintenance that can be handled without special training or special equipment.

lineman - A person who instructs pilots with hand signals to facilitate taxiing or parking an aircraft through tight areas.

LMM - Locator Middle Marker.

loading bridge - The enclosed, mobile walkway that connects an airport terminal gate to a plane to allow passengers to enter and exit aircraft.

LOM - Locator Outer Marker.

longitudinal axis - The axis extending through the center of the fuselage from the nose to the tail. Roll is a motion around the longitudinal axis.


magnetic dip - Downward motion of a (bar) magnet caused by the vertical component of earth's magnetic field.

MALS - Medium -Intensity Approach Light System.

manifest - A listing of an aircraft's passengers.

MANPADS - Man Portable Air Defense Systems.

MAP - Missed Approach Point.

marker beacon - See outer marker.

Master Minimum Equipment List - An approved list of aircraft equipment involving that represents the minimum level that may be used in order to safely operate an aircraft. It is used as a basis for developing individual minimum equipment lists which may differ from an MMEL, but can NOT be composed of less, required equipment.

MC - Magnetic Course.

MCA - Minimum Crossing Altitude.

MDA - Minimum Descent Altitude..

MEA - Minimum En Route Altitude.

MEF - Maximum Elevation Figure.

MEI - Multi-Engine Instructor.

MHA - Minimum Holding Altitude.

microlight - An extremely light, small-engine powered glider.

MITA - Multilateral Interline Traffic Agreements.

MLS - Microwave Landing System.

MM - Middle Marker.

MMA - Maximum Authorized Altitude.

MMEL - See Master Minimum Equipment List.

MOA - Military Operations Area.

MOCA - Minimum Obstruction Clearance Altitude.

monoplane - An airplane with one set of wings. Most aircraft built today have only one set of wings and are classified as monoplanes.

MRA - Minimum Reception Altitude.

MSA - Minimum Safe Altitude.

MSL - Mean Sea Level.

MTR - Military Training route.

multiengine rating - Indication that a pilot can properly operate a aircraft with more than one engine.

MVA - Minimum Vectoring Altitude.


N-number - Informal reference to the registration number that appears on U.S. registered aircraft.

NAS - 1. National Airspace System, 2. Naval Air Station.

navaid - Navigation aid.

NDB - Nondirectional Radio Beacon.

NDB-DME - Nondirectional Beacon With Distance Measuring Equipment.

NFDC - National Flight Data Center.

NORDO - No Radio Aircraft.

NOTAM - Notice To Airmen.

NSA - National Security Area.


ODALS - Omnidirectional Approach Lighting System.

OH - Overhaul.

OM - See outer marker

optical digitizer - Devices equipped with photo sensors that are capable of creating digital codes from analog information sources.

OPA - See optionally piloted aircraft.

operational control - Refers to having authority over all aspects of an aircraft's flight.

optionally piloted aircraft - Aircraft that, while usually piloted by a human, is equipped to allow flight via remote control.

outer marker - A beacon placed roughly 6 miles from the end of a runway.

overshoot - Landing beyond a runway surface.

oxy - Aircraft system that supplies breathable air to all aircraft occupants.


pants - ASee spats.

PAPI - Precision Approach Path Indicator.

PAR - Precision Approach Radar.

Passenger Revenue per Available Seat Mile - A measurement of profit an airline makes that is determined by dividing total passenger revenue by available seat miles.

pattern - An established flight path that aircraft is direct to follow at an airfield prior to landing.

PATWAS - Pilot's Automatic Telephone Weather Answering Service.

payload - Refers to cargo and/or passengers that are, typically, carried by aircraft in order to generate income.

phonetic alphabet - Refers to any, widely used alphabet to assist in delivering clear messages over aviation voice radio. Below is a version created by NATO:

  • Alpha
  • Bravo
  • Charley
  • Delta
  • Echo
  • Foxtrot
  • Golf
  • Hotel
  • India
  • Juliet
  • Kilo
  • Lima
  • Mike
  • November
  • Oscar
  • Papa
  • Quebec
  • Romeo
  • Sierra
  • Tango
  • Uniform
  • Victor
  • Whisky
  • X-Ray
  • Yankee
  • Zulu

PIC - Pilot In Command, the pilot who leads any flight crew.

pilot - A person who flies an aircraft.

pilot's License - See airmen's certificate.

PIREP - Pilot Weather Report.

pitch - Generally refers to an aircraft's vertical (ascending and descending) movement.

pinging - See detonation.

PNR - Passenger Name Record.

POH - Pilot's Operation Handbook.

power back - Use of thrust from engines operated in reverse in order to back up an aircraft.

PRASM - See Passenger Revenue per Available Seat Mile.

PRM - Persons with reduced mobility.

propeller - A device that consists of blades (shaped like airfoils) that spin around a central hub, like a fan. An engine causes the blades to turn. When the blades turn, they create thrust by biting into the air and forcing it to move back.

PT - Procedure Turn.

PRS - Practical Test Standards.

PTT - Push To Talk.

pusher - A plane that is pushed through the air by a rear-mounted engine propeller.


q-corner - Another term for coffin corner.

quadraplane - Any plane with four wings.

quaternion - A complex, but accurate system for measuring an aircraft's altitude. It is based on comparing the craft's centerline against three axes.

queen bee - Informal term for a given region's facility that repairs aircraft engines.


RADAR - Radio Detection And Ranging.

radio navigation - Use of radio frequencies as a method to find a given global location.

RAIL - Runway Alignment Indicator Light.

RAREP - Radar Weather Report.

RCLM - Runway Centerline Marking.

RCLS - Runway Centerline Light System.

RCO - Remote Communications Outlet.

reconnaissance - In aviation, to fly over and look closely at an area below to gather information about it.

REIL - Runway End Identifier Lights.

RFID - Radio Frequency Identification.

RMI - Radio Magnetic Indicator.

RNAV - Area Navigation.

RNP - Required Navigation Performance.

RPA - Remotely Piloted Aircraft. Also see unmanned aerial vehicle.

roll - A rotational motion in which the aircraft turns around its longitudinal axis.

rotocraft - aircraft powered by rotors that create lift, such as gyroplanes and helicopters.

rudder - Movable part of a craft's tail section that controls yawing.

runway - Strip of land, usually, prepared for aircraft takeoffs and landings.

RVR - Runway Visual Range.

RVV - Runway Visibility Value.

RWY - See Runway.


SAR - Search and Rescue.

SATCOM - Satellite Communications System.

SDF - Simplified Directional Facility.

seaplane - A plane equipped with pontoon landing gear, as well as wheels that facilitate take-offs and landings on either water or land.

SFC - Surface.

SIC - Second In Command.

SID - Standard Instrument Departure.

SIGMET - Significant Meteorological Information.

skids - A sled-like runner used as part of the landing gear for an aircraft.

SMS - Safety Management Systems.

spats - Essentially, decorative coverings for landing wheels.

spoiler - A device, normally located on the top of the wing, for changing the airflow around a wing to reduce lift.

stabilizer - A surface that helps to provide stability for an aircraft. An airplane has two stabilizers: a vertical stabilizer and a horizontal stabilizer.

stall - A breakdown of the airflow over a wing, which suddenly reduces lift. When an airplane stalls it will usually drop suddenly.

STAR - Standard Terminal Arrival Route.

STOL - Short Takeoff and Landing.

straight wing - A wing that sticks straight out from the fuselage.

strut - A diagonal support (usually for a wing) that creates resistance against structural collapse.

subsonic - Velocity less than the speed of sound.

SVFR - Special Visual Flight Rules.

sweepback wing - A wing that is slanted toward the rear of the airplane.


TACAN - See Tactical Air Navigation.

tactical air navigation - An item that provides lateral guidance to a station that is equipped to transmit information on an aircraft's bearing and range.

taildragger - Aircraft with a landing gear consisting of two main wings and either a secondary wheel or skid at its rear.

takeoff - The process of using the thrust of the engines to accelerate an airplane down a runway until enough lift is generated so that the aircraft begins to fly.

TAS - True Airspeed.

TC - True Course.

TCH - Threshold Crossing Height.

TDZE - Touchdown Zone Elevation.

TDZL - Touchdown Zone Lights.

TEC - Tower En Route Control.

test pilot - A pilot that is specially trained to test aircraft.

thrust - A force created by the engines that pushes and aircraft through the air.

TIBS - Telephone Information Briefing Service.

touch-and-go - Landing practice consisting of an aircraft that takes off immediately after a landing (craft does not come to a complete stop).

TPA - Traffic Pattern Altitude.

trailing edge - The rear edge of an airfoil.

transponder - A two-way communicator, short for Transmitter-Responder.

trend monitoring - Continuous computerized monitoring of an operating turbine engine. It is a method for detecting the first signs of wear or possible breakdown.

TRSA - Terminal Radar Service Area.

TSA - Transportation Security Administration.

turbulence mode - An aircraft flight control system setting that enables passenger-friendly flight corrections during episodes of turbulence.

turbofan engine - A jet engine that includes a large, front-mounted fan. The fan directs air into as well as around the jet engine, resulting in a more powerful, efficient operation.

turboprop engine - An engine that achieves thrust via a jet turbine-powered propeller.

turbulence - Air flow which is not smooth and steady. When an airplane flies through turbulent air, it can unexpectedly rise, drop, roll, pitch or yaw very abruptly.

TWEB - Transcribed Weather Broadcast.

TWIC - Transport Worker ID Card.


UATP - Universal Air Travel Plan.

UAV - See unmanned aerial vehicle.

UFTAA - Universal Federation of Travel Agents' Associations.

ultralight vehicle - Recreational or sport aircraft which can be operated without the need to register with FAA, nor need an airworthiness certificate.

UL - See ultralight vehicle.

unapproved parts notification - Bulletins distributed by aviation authorities, particularly the FAA, advising parties operating in the aviation industry about aircraft parts which, for various reasons, have defects that make them unworthy for use.

undercarriage - The part of an aircraft that provides support while the aircraft is on the ground.

undercarriage strut - A structural support for an aircraft's landing gear.

undershoot - Landing short of a runway surface.

unmanned aerial vehicle - An aircraft that is operated without an onboard, human pilot.

UNICOM - Universal Communication.

UPN - See Unapproved Parts Notification.

UTC - Universal Time Coordinated.


variable sweep wing - Wings that are hinged so they can be slanted forward or backward during flight.

VASI - Visual Approach Slope Indicator.

VDP - Visual Descent Point.

ventral fin - A vertical stabilizer mounted on the bottom of an aircraft.

vertical axis - The axis extending straight up and down through the center of gravity of an aircraft. Yaw is a motion around the vertical axis.

VFR - Visual Flight Rules.

VHF - Very High Frequency.

VHF Omni Range - A high frequency, ground-based transmitter that sends, typically, coded signals that act as a very accurate navigation tool.

VMC - Visual Meteorological Conditions.

VOR - See VHF Omni Range.

VOR-DME - VHF Omni Range With Distance Measuring Equipment.

VORTAC - VHF Omni Range/Tactical Air Navigation.

VTOL - Vertical Takeoff And Landing.


wash-in, wash-out - A method to alter a plane's lift by adjusting the angle of its outer wings in relationship to the force of the plane's engine. Wash-in/wash-out refers, respectively, to increasing/decreasing the angle.

waypoint - An interesting point on the ground (example, a lake, mountain range, city) that is used as a guide or reference during a flight.

WCA - Wind Correction Angle.

weight on wheels - A measure of whether an aircraft is airborne or on the ground by a sensor that determines if the aircraft's wheels are experiencing any weight or pressure.

wing - A part of an airplane that is attached to the fuselage. Wings are shaped like airfoils and are used to provide lift for the airplane.

wing loading - The maximum, gross take-off weight that can be borne by a given aircraft's wing area.

winglet - A small, rudder attachment to a plane's wingtips that acts as an additional stabilizer.

WOW - See Weight on Wheels.


x-band - The radio frequency commonly used for transmission and receipt of weather radar information.

xpond - Shorthand for transponder.


yaw/yawing - Refers to an aircraft moving/turning on its vertical axis to alter its current flight path.

yoke - A manually operated flight control that is either pushed or pulled in order to alter an aircraft's altitude.


zero/zero - Indication of having to navigate using instrument flight rules, zero ceiling, zero forward visibility.

ZOC - See zone of confusion.

zone of confusion - A circular area surrounding a TACAN station within which bearing very difficult to determine.

ZULU - Another term for Universal Time Coordinated.

Insurance Aviation Terms Glossary - The Bottom Line

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