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While this list does not include all aviation terminology, it is the purpose of this glossary to aid the general viewer in better understanding aviation terms as it pertains to content on this website.



























See Airport/Facility Directory.
See automatic direction finder.
See attitude director indicator.
A process of cooling the air through expansion. For example, as air moves up slope it expands with the reduction of atmospheric pressure and cools as it expands.
A process of heating dry air through compression. For example, as air moves down a slope it is compressed, which results in an increase in temperature.
A stabilizer that can be adjusted in flight to trim the airplane, thereby allowing the airplane to fly hands-off at any given airspeed.
A propeller with blades whose pitch can be adjusted on the ground with the engine not running, but which cannot be adjusted in flight. Also referred to as a ground adjustable propeller. Sometimes also used to refer to constant-speed propellers that are adjustable in flight.
See aeronautical decision-making.
See automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast.
Fog resulting from the movement of warm, humid air over a cold surface.
A condition of flight in which the nose of an airplane tends to yaw toward the outside of the turn. This is caused by the higher induced drag on the outside wing, which is also producing more lift. Induced drag is a by-product of the lift associated with the outside wing.
The science of the action of air on an object, and with the motion of air on other gases. Aerodynamics deals with the production of lift by the aircraft, the relative wind, and the atmosphere.
A map used in air navigation containing all or part of the following: topographic features, hazards and obstructions, navigation aids, navigation routes, designated airspace, and airports.
A systematic approach to the mental process used by pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances.
An irregular imaginary line across the surface of the Earth along which the magnetic and geographic poles are in alignment, and along which there is no magnetic variation.
Primary flight control surfaces mounted on the trailing edge of an airplane wing, near the tip. Ailerons control roll about the longitudinal axis.
An aircraft computer that receives and processes pitot pressure, static pressure, and temperature to calculate very precise altitude, indicated airspeed, true airspeed, and air temperature.
An extensive body of air having fairly uniform properties of temperature and moisture.
Air route traffic control center (ARTCC) radar used primarily to detect and display an aircraft’s position while en route between terminal areas.
Sometimes called secondary surveillance radar (SSR), which utilizes a transponder in the aircraft. The ground equipment is an interrogating unit, in which the beacon antenna is mounted so it rotates with the surveillance antenna. The interrogating unit transmits a coded pulse sequence that actuates the aircraft transponder. The transponder answers the coded sequence by transmitting a preselected coded sequence back to the ground equipment, providing a strong return signal and positive aircraft identification, as well as other special data.
A device that is used, or intended to be used, for flight.
The actual height above sea level at which the aircraft is flying.
Any surface, such as a wing, propeller, rudder, or even a trim tab, which provides aerodynamic force when it interacts with a moving stream of air.
Inflight weather advisory issued as an amendment to the area forecast, concerning weather phenomena of operational interest to all aircraft and that is potentially hazardous to aircraft with limited capability due to lack of equipment, instrumentation, or pilot qualifications.
An engine-driven, fixed-wing aircraft heavier than air that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of air against its wings.
A document developed by the airplane manufacturer and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is specific to a particular make and model airplane by serial number and it contains operating procedures and limitations.
A document developed by the airplane manufacturer containing general information about the make and model of an airplane. The airplane owner’s manual is not FAA approved and is not specific to a particular serial numbered airplane. This manual is not kept current, and therefore cannot be substituted for the AFM/POH.
The section of an instrument approach procedure chart that shows a detailed diagram of the airport. This diagram includes surface features and airport configuration information.
Radar equipment specifically designed to detect all principal features and traffic on the surface of an airport, presenting the entire image on the control tower console; used to augment visual observation by tower personnel of aircraft and/or vehicular movements on runways and taxiways.
An instrument approach in which ATC issues instructions for pilot compliance based on aircraft position in relation to the final approach course and the distance from the end of the runway as displayed on the controller’s radar scope.
Rate of the aircraft’s progress through the air.
A differential pressure gauge that measures the dynamic pressure of the air through which the aircraft is flying. Displays the craft’s airspeed, typically in knots, to the pilot.
An airway is based on a centerline that extends from one navigation aid or intersection to another navigation aid (or through several navigation aids or intersections); used to establish a known route for en route procedures between terminal areas.
A certificate issued by the FAA to all aircraft that have been proven to meet the minimum standards set down by the Code of Federal Regulations.
A regulatory notice sent out by the FAA to the registered owner of an aircraft informing the owner of a condition that prevents the aircraft from continuing to meet its conditions for airworthiness. Airworthiness Directives (AD notes) are to be complied with within the required time limit, and the fact of compliance, the date of compliance, and the method of compliance are recorded in the aircraft’s maintenance records.
An area in which there is a high volume of pilot training or an unusual type of aeronautical activity.
Information the global positioning system (GPS) receiver can obtain from one satellite which describes the approximate orbital positioning of all satellites in the constellation. This information is necessary for the GPS receiver to know what satellites to look for in the sky at a given time.
See approach lighting system.
A valve in the instrument static air system that supplies reference air pressure to the altimeter, airspeed indicator, and vertical speed indicator if the normal static pickup should become clogged or iced over.
A flight instrument that indicates altitude by sensing pressure changes.
Station pressure (the barometric pressure at the location the reading is taken) which has been corrected for the height of the station above sea level.
The pressure in the area immediately surrounding the aircraft.
See aviation medical examiner
An instrument installed in series with an electrical load used to measure the amount of current flowing through the load.
The sensitive component in an altimeter or barometer that measures the absolute pressure of the air. It is a sealed, flat capsule made of thin disks of corrugated metal soldered together and evacuated by pumping all of the air out of it.
An instrument that measures the absolute pressure of the atmosphere by balancing the weight of the air above it against the spring action of the aneroid.
The acute angle formed between the chord line of an airfoil and the direction of the air striking the airfoil.
The angle formed by the chord line of the wing and a line parallel to the longitudinal axis of the airplane.
A downward slant from root to tip of an aircraft’s wing or horizontal tail surface.
A complete inspection of an aircraft and engine, required by the Code of Federal Regulations, to be accomplished every 12 calendar months on all certificated aircraft. Only an A&P technician holding an Inspection Authorization can conduct an annual inspection.
Preventing the accumulation of ice on an aircraft structure via a system designed for that purpose.
An adjustable tab attached to the trailing edge of a stabilator that moves in the same direction as the primary control. It is used to make the stabilator less sensitive.
Part of the low-altitude en route chart series, this chart furnishes terminal data at a larger scale for congested areas.
A report that gives a picture of clouds, general weather conditions, and visual meteorological conditions (VMC) expected over a large area encompassing several states.
Allows a pilot to fly a selected course to a predetermined point without the need to overfly ground-based navigation facilities, by using waypoints.
See moment arm.
See air route surveillance radar.
See air route traffic control center.
See airport surface detection equipment.
See airport surveillance radar.
Also known as P-factor. A tendency for an aircraft to yaw to the left due to the descending propeller blade on the right producing more thrust than the ascending blade on the left. This occurs when the aircraft’s longitudinal axis is in a climbing attitude in relation to the relative wind. The P-factor would be to the right if the aircraft had a counterclockwise rotating propeller.
Air Traffic Control
See air traffic control radar beacon system.
See automatic terminal information service.
A personal motivational predisposition to respond to persons, situations, or events in a given manner that can, nevertheless, be changed or modified through training as sort of a mental shortcut to decision-making.
A system composed of three-axis sensors that provide heading, attitude, and yaw information for aircraft. AHRS are designed to replace traditional mechanical gyroscopic flight instruments and provide superior reliability and accuracy.
The foundation for all instrument flight, this instrument reflects the airplane’s attitude in relation to the horizon.
The ability to recognize hazardous attitudes in oneself and the willingness to modify them as necessary through the application of an appropriate antidote thought.
Automated weather reporting system consisting of various sensors, a processor, a computer-generated voice subsystem, and a transmitter to broadcast weather data.
Electronic navigation equipment that operates in the low- and medium-frequency bands. Used in conjunction with the ground-based nondirectional beacon (NDB), the instrument displays the number of degrees clockwise from the nose of the aircraft to the station being received.
The continuous broadcast of recorded non-control information in selected terminal areas. Its purpose is to improve controller effectiveness and relieve frequency congestion by automating repetitive transmission of essential but routine information.
An automatic flight control system which keeps an aircraft in level flight or on a set course. Automatic pilots can be directed by the pilot, or they may be coupled to a radio navigation signal.
See Automated Weather Observing System.
Three imaginary lines that pass through an aircraft’s center of gravity. The axes can be considered as imaginary axles around which the aircraft rotates. The three axes pass through the center of gravity at 90° angles to each other. The axis from nose to tail is the longitudinal axis (pitch), the axis that passes from wingtip to wingtip is the lateral axis (roll), and the axis that passes vertically through the center of gravity is the vertical axis (yaw).
A card that may be set, gyroscopically controlled, or driven by a remote compass.