The Most Common Aviation Terms
Everyone knows that the language of communication in aviation is English. Flight attendants all around the world know how to effectively communicate in this language. Nevertheless, the vocabulary used by cabin crews attending to passengers differs significantly from the lingo that pilots and traffic air controllers use. If your ambition is to become one of them, you should think about learning Aviation English at LAL Fort Lauderdale. To give you a sample of what awaits you, let’s have a quick look at the most common aviation terms:
Pilots do not say “yes” but “affirm”. You may be also familiar with the term “affirmative” but in reality, it’s used mostly in the military. In aviation radio communication the right term for confirmation is “affirm” and the acceptable pronunciation of the word is “AY-firm”.
The acronym stands for “Above Ground Level”. It’s a measurement of altitude.
“To approach” means simply “coming in to land”. Pilots will also use a related term “final approach” for the last stage of this process.
I’m sure you’ve used the term “on autopilot” in your life to say that you’re doing something without thinking about it. In aviation, autopilot is an automatic control system of an aircraft.
Many airlines do not allow pets on board so you may wonder what’s a cat doing on this list. The acronym means Clear-Air-Turbulence.
A circuit is an established path for planes coming in to land. It’s important because it allows pilots to make all the necessary pre-landing checks and helps organise the inbound traffic.
What comes to your mind when you look at the word “deadhead”? Make a guess and read on. Rather surprisingly, this interesting term is used to refer to an aircrew member sitting in a passenger seat.
8. Ground control
It means air traffic control. The term has been popularised thanks to the lyrics of a David Bowie’s song about Major Tom, “Space Oddity”.
This word is the bearer of bad news. It’s only used by pilots to ask for help in life-threatening emergencies. It needs to be repeated three times as I’m sure you’ve heard in the movies. The term has a French origin and is derived from “m’aidez”, which translates as “help me”.
“Pan-pan” is another aviation term used for expressing a cry for help. It’s not as serious as “mayday” and communicates the existence of a problem which is noticeable but not life-threatening. Similarly like “mayday” it needs to be repeated three times and comes from a French word. “Panne” means “breakdown” or “failure”.
It’s a different term that you’ve definitely heard in the movies. “Roger” is used to let the other side know that the message was received. However, it’s not an expression of compliance. If a pilot wants to say that he or she “will comply”, he uses an abbreviation “wilco”. “Wilco” on its own is enough and it doesn’t have to be used in combination with “roger”.
This word is used when an air controller or a pilot is too busy to reply or help you. In standard English, you’d probably say “hold on” to express the same idea. If you hear “standby”, you don’t need to answer anything. The right thing to do is wait until the person is ready to assist you.
A term used to define air speeds.
These are just some of the most important terms to help you build your aviation vocabulary. Successful communication is necessary for safety and well-being of passengers as well as the crew. Being a pilot is a very exciting but also a very responsible job! Fortunately, learning aviation terms can help you excel in your assignments.
A good way to start your learning process is to enrol in an Aviation English course that you can take in our school in Fort Lauderdale. Apart from teaching you the right vocabulary, it will help you understand the interactions between pilots and air traffic controllers on the basis of real-life examples. What do you say? Are you ready to take off?