Cockpit MD82 | © Michael David

Aviation ABC

Explanation of important terms and abbreviations

Welcome to the world of aviation!

Kiss & ride, ETA or armed position: Are you familiar with all these expressions? There are many special terms and abbreviations that we use in aviation. Some of them you’ll hear quite often but maybe you’re not sure what they mean. We have collected them and provided explanations.

Term Explanation
ACG Austro Control
ACMI Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance; a type of aircraft leasing (wet lease)
ADM Airside Duty Manager; airport employee responsible for smooth airside operations on the apron
AFIS Aerodrome Flight Information Service; airport information service for pilots
Airbus European aircraft manufacturer
Airside Area of an airport that is not open to the public and may only be entered after a security check, e.g. transit and apron area
Alternate Alternate airport
Angle of attack Angle at which the chord of an aircraft's wing meets the relative wind
Anti-skid surfacing Special, very rough pavement on runways to increase friction and thus adhesion of aircraft tyres
AOC Air Operator Certificate; permission to operate an aircraft
AOG Aircraft on Ground; aircraft not ready to fly for technical reasons
Apron Parking and handling area for aircraft in the security area of the airport
Apron Aircraft parking area
APU Auxiliary Power Unit of an aircraft for power supply on the ground
Armed position Locking position for aircraft doors
Artificial horizon Attitude indicator in the cockpit; replaces the natural horizon when it is not visible
ATC Air Traffic Control
ATCO Air Traffic Controller; directs air traffic; employed by Austro Control in Austria
ATIS Automatic Terminal Information System; automatic information announcement about weather and airport data at airports with instrument flight traffic
Autopilot Computer-based, fully automatic control of the aircraft
Avgas Aviation fuel for aircraft with piston engines (= reciprocating engines)
Belly Cargo hold under the passenger deck of an aircraft
Blackbox Orange container for flight data recorder and voice recorder, which are used for accident investigation; "black box" because the containers are hermetically sealed as far as possible and have to withstand extreme conditions
Blacklist List of airlines banned from taking off and landing in the EU
Boarding Time period between asking passengers to proceed to the gate from which the aircraft can be accessed and the time when the aircraft doors are locked
Boarding completed All passengers are on board
Boarding pass Plane ticket authorising passengers to board an aircraft; in paper form or electronically on a mobile device
Boarding time Time from which passengers can board the aircraft; not the departure time!
Briefing Mandatory aircrew briefing for important procedures before and during a flight
Carrier Airline that transports people or goods from point A to point B
CAT I, II, III a, b, c See also ILS; categories for decision height in case of restricted visibility for landing approaches; Linz Airport has the best possible category with CAT IIIb with a decision height of less than 50 ft above ground and a runway visibility of at least 50 m
Charter flight A non-scheduled, on-demand flight; the airline is contracted to transport people or goods to a specific destination on specific occasions for a client (e.g. tour operator)
Check-in Process of registering a passenger and receiving the baggage for a flight; assigning the seat by issuing the boarding pass; also possible online
Checklist List with instructions helping the cockpit crew to perform certain actions correctly and without forgetting anything
Clear air turbulence Strong air movement in cloud-free air
Clearance Approval of a flight plan
CRM Crew Resource Management; distribution of tasks between the two pilots in the cockpit
Declaration Declaration of goods subject to duty
Destination Destination airport
Direct flight Flight between two airports where stopovers are possible; not the same as a non-stop flight
Diversion / diverted Diversion of an aircraft to another airport, e.g. for weather reasons
DME Distance Measuring Equipment; used in the landing approach
Doors to arrival Automatic release of the emergency slides in the aircraft doors is deactivated with this command in order to be able to open the aircraft doors
EASA European Union Aviation Safety Agency
EFIS Electronic Flight Instrument System; flight data display in the aircraft, colloquially also known as the board computer
ESTA Electronic System for Travel Authorization for entry into the USA
ETA Estimated Time of Arrival
ETOPS Extended-range Twin-engine Operations Performance Standards; regulations that allow airlines to plan a shorter route for a flight than the standard safety rules allow to reach an alternate airport
FAA US Federal Aviation Administration
Fan Ducted fan used for propulsion
Fare Air ticket fare
Filekey Booking code; six-digit number code on an airline ticket used to identify the booking
Flaps Landing flaps; increase lift during take-off or landing
Fly-by-wire Aircraft commands sent to the control interfaces via electronic signals
Follow-me (vehicle) Vehicle that guides the aircraft to its parking position
Foot (ft) Unit of measurement in aviation (1 foot = 30.48 cm)
Galley Aircraft kitchen
Gangway Aircraft stairs or passenger boarding bridge
General Aviation Center Centre through which private and (partly) commercial air traffic is handled
Go-around An aborted landing of an aircraft that is on final approach or has already touched down
GPU Ground Power Unit; mobile aggregate that supplies an aircraft with power on the ground
Ground handling Services around the aircraft preparing it for the next departure
High loader Aircraft loader used for picking up, transporting and precisely setting down heavy loads
Holding (pattern) Manoeuvre flown by pilots awaiting further clearance
Hub Transfer airport
IATA International Air Transport Association
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization, which issues standards, rules and norms for civil aviation
ILS Instrument Landing System; supports the pilot in the landing approach, especially in poor visibility; is divided into categories depending on the minimum required visibility; see Cat
In-flight entertainment Umbrella term used for the entertainment options provided by electronic devices to passengers of a commercial aircraft during their flight
Infant Children under two years of age who are not permitted to occupy their own seat on the aircraft
JET A-1 fuel Special fuel for turbine-powered aircraft (kerosene)
Jet lag Disturbance of the body's circadian rhythm after long-haul flights through several time zones
Jet stream Strong air currents in the Earth's atmosphere of up to 500 kilometres per hour
Jumpseat Fold-away seats in the cockpit or galley areas of an aircraft
Kiss & ride Parking area for dropping off or picking up people in the immediate vicinity of the terminal
Knots Measure of speed in aviation based on the nautical mile unit of length; one nautical mile (NM) corresponds to exactly 1,852 metres (1 knot = 1 NM/h = 1.852 km/h)
Landside the area of an airport open to the public
Load factor In air transport, the term seat load factor stands for the degree of utilisation of the aircraft; it can refer to both passengers and cargo
Long-haul flight Flight lasting between six and twelve hours
Lost and found The counter where you report the loss or damage of your luggage after arrival
Low-cost carrier Low-cost airline that offers flights cheaper than classic airlines and forgoes comfort features
LOWL ICAO code of Linz Airport; used to uniquely identify the aerodrome and is assigned by ICAO.
Marshaller Flight Line Marshaller (FLM); ground personnel guiding the aircraft to its parking stand or to the runway
Mileage Distance travelled during a flight/trip
Minimum connecting time Minimum time required to reach a connecting flight
MTOW Maximum Take Off Weight; maximum permitted take-off weight of an aircraft; the MTOW is also used as a parameter for calculating landing fees
Narrow-body Narrow-body aircraft or standard fuselage aircraft; a commercial aircraft with only one cabin aisle and only up to six seats per row in economy class
No frills Low-cost concept of low-cost airlines; savings are achieved by omitting special benefits and services
No-show Passenger who, despite having made a booking, fails to board a flight without prior notice
Non-stop flight Direct flight without stopover
NOTAM Notice to Airman; short-notice and urgent instructions and information for the pilot that are important for an orderly, safe and smooth flight
NTSB National Transportation Safety Board; US transport authority for the investigation of accidents in the transport sector
Off-blocks Moment when an aircraft moves out of the parking position and prepares to taxi and take off
Open-jaw flight an air journey in which the passenger does not fly back from the airport at which they arrived
OPS Operations; preparation for the execution of the flight, including determining the most efficient route from point A to point B
PAX Abbreviation for passenger and the colloquial term for an airline passenger
Pitot tube / pitot probe L-shaped tube, open on one side, used to measure the speed of aircraft and helicopters
Preflight check Inspection walk-through before flight operations and before each departure, in this case by the pilots
Priority If a piece of luggage receives the "priority tag", it is unloaded and placed on the luggage conveyor belt first
Priority boarding Service that can be booked with some airlines for an extra charge to be able to board the aircraft before the other passengers
Purser/purserette Highest-ranking flight attendant in a cabin crew
Pushback Pushing an aircraft backwards, as they cannot or are not allowed to taxi backwards under their own power
Ramp Parking and handling area for aircraft in the security section of the airport
Roll-out The first taxiing of a newly built aircraft out of the assembly hangar
Rush baggage Baggage that may be transported without the associated passenger being on the same flight; usually baggage that has previously been loaded incorrectly
RVR Runway Visual Range; measuring device for determining the visual range on the runway, indicated in feet or metres
Safety Air traffic safety; includes operational safety to prevent air accidents through safety regulations, controls, and training
Seat load factor Passenger load factor of an aircraft in percentages
Security Airport security; in the field of civil aviation, refers to the defence against external threats
Sharklets Term used at Airbus for the upward or downward curved extensions at the wingtips to improve environmental performance (fuel savings), as they reduce aerodynamic drag
SIGMET Significant Meteorological Phenomena; weather warning in aviation
Skidometer Special system (vehicle with trailer) with which the friction value on the runway can be determined; results are transmitted to the pilots by means of SNOWTAM
Slot Time window for the take-offs and landings of aircraft
SNOWTAM Special NOTAM informing pilots of the condition of the runway in winter
Stall A reduction in the lift coefficient generated by a foil as the angle of attack increases
Stopover Scheduled flight interruption of at least 24 hours
Taxiway Taxiway for aircraft between apron and runway
Terminal Area of an airport where passenger or cargo traffic is handled
TORA Takeoff Run Available; sign at the junction of a taxiway with the runway indicating to pilots the maximum distance available before takeoff
Transit Area Transfer area at international airports; no further entry formalities are required
UNMR (UM) Unaccompanied Minor; child between the ages of 5 and 12 who is flying unaccompanied; a childcare service must be booked with the airline
UTC Coordinated Universal Time; is used in aviation as a uniform time indication
VFR Visual Flight Rules
Wide-body Wide-body aircraft with a fuselage diameter of more than five metres and at least two aisles in the passenger cabin
Windshear Strong change of wind direction within small areas (especially near thunderstorms)
Winglets Upward or downward curved extensions at the wingtips to improve environmental performance (fuel savings), as they reduce aerodynamic drag