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Absolute accuracy

The ability to determine present position
in space independently, and is most often used by pilots


Absolute altitude

The actual distance between an aircraft
and the terrain over which it is flying.


Absolute pressure

Pressure measured from the reference
of zero pressure, or a vacuum



Force involved in overcoming inertia, and
which may be defined as a change in velocity per unit of


Acceleration error

A magnetic compass error apparent when
the aircraft accelerates while flying on an easterly or westerly
heading, causing the compass card to rotate toward North.


Accelerate-go distance

The distance required to accelerate
to V1 with all engines at takeoff power, experience an engine
failure at V1, and continue the takeoff on the remaining
engine(s). The runway required includes the distance
required to climb to 35 feet by which time V2 speed must
be attained.


Accelerate-stop distance

The distance required to accelerate
to V1 with all engines at takeoff power, experience an engine
failure at V1, and abort the takeoff and bring the airplane to
a stop using braking action only (use of thrust reversing is
not considered).



A part of an inertial navigation system
(INS) that accurately measures the force of acceleration in
one direction.


Adiabatic cooling

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


Adiabatic heating

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.


Adjustable-pitch propeller

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


Adjustable stabilizer

A stabilizer that can be adjusted in
flight to trim the airplane, thereby allowing the airplane to
fly hands-off at any given airspeed.


Advection fog

Fog resulting from the movement of warm,
humid air over a cold surface.


Adverse yaw

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.


Aeronautical chart

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.


Aeronautical decision-making (ADM)

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.


Agonic line

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.


Aircraft altitude

The actual height above sea level at which
the aircraft is flying.


Aircraft approach category

A performance grouping of
aircraft based on a speed of 1.3 times the stall speed in the
landing configuration at maximum gross landing weight.


Air Data Computer (ADC)

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



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


Air mass

An extensive body of air having fairly uniform
properties of temperature and moisture.



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.


Airplane Flight Manual (AFM)

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.


Airplane Owner/Information Manual

. 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.


Airport diagram

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.


Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD)

An FAA publication
containing information on all airports, communications,
and NAVAIDs.


Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASIDE)

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.


Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR)

Approach control
radar used to detect and display an aircraft’s position in the
terminal area.


Airport surveillance radar approach

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.


Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR)

Air route traffic
control center (ARTCC) radar used primarily to detect
and display an aircraft’s position while en route between
terminal areas.


Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)

Provides ATC
service to aircraft operating on IFR flight plans within
controlled airspace and principally during the en route phase
of flight.



Rate of the aircraft’s progress through the air.


Airspeed Indicator

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.


Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System (ATCRBS)

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.



. 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.


Airworthiness Certificate

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


Airworthiness Directive

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.


Alert area

An area in which there is a high volume of pilot
training or an unusual type of aeronautical activity.


Almanac data

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.


Alternate airport

An airport designated in an IFR flight
plan, providing a suitable destination if a landing at the
intended airport becomes inadvisable.


Alternate static source valve

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.


Altimeter setting

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.


Altitude engine

A reciprocating aircraft engine having a
rated takeoff power that is producible from sea level to an
established higher altitude.


Ambient pressure

The pressure in the area immediately surrounding the aircraft.


Ambient temperature

The temperature in the area immediately surrounding the aircraft.


Amendment status

The circulation date and revision
number of an instrument approach procedure, printed above
the procedure identification.



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.


Aneroid barometer

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.


Angle of attack

The acute angle formed between the
chord line of an airfoil and the direction of the air striking
the airfoil.


Angle of incidence

The angle formed by the chord line of
the wing and a line parallel to the longitudinal axis of the



A downward slant from root to tip of an aircraft’s
wing or horizontal tail surface.


Annual inspection

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


Antiservo tab

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


Approach Lighting System (ALS)

Provides lights that will
penetrate the atmosphere far enough from touchdown to
give directional, distance, and glidepath information for safe
transition from instrument to visual flight.


Area chart

Part of the low-altitude en route chart series,
this chart furnishes terminal data at a larger scale for
congested areas


Area Forecast (FA)

A report that gives a picture of clouds,
general weather conditions, and visual meteorological
conditions (VMC) expected over a large area encompassing
several states.


Area Navigation (RNAV)

Allows a pilot to fly a selected
course to a predetermined point without the need to overfly
ground-based navigation facilities, by using waypoints.


Aspect ratio

Span of wing divided by its average chord.


Asymmetric thrust/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


Atmospheric propagation delay

A bending of the
electromagnetic (EM) wave from the satellite that creates
an error in the GPS system.



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.


Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS)

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.


Attitude Director Indicator (ADI)

An aircraft attitude
indicator that incorporates flight command bars to provide
pitch and roll commands.


Attitude indicator

The foundation for all instrument flight,
this instrument reflects the airplane’s attitude in relation to
the horizon.


Attitude instrument flying

Controlling the aircraft by
reference to the instruments rather than by outside visual


Attitude management

The ability to recognize hazardous
attitudes in oneself and the willingness to modify them as
necessary through the application of an appropriate antidote



Nighttime visual illusion that a stationary light
is moving, which becomes apparent after several seconds of
staring at the light.


Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS).

reporting system which provides surface observations every
minute via digitized voice broadcasts and printed reports.


Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS)

Automated weather reporting system consisting of various
sensors, a processor, a computer-generated voice subsystem,
and a transmitter to broadcast weather data.


Automated Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B)

A device used in aircraft that repeatedly broadcasts a
message that includes position (such as latitude, longitude,
and altitude), velocity, and possibly other information.


Automatic Direction Finder (ADF)

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.


Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS)

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.


Aviation Medical Examiner (AME)

A physician with
training in aviation medicine designated by the Civil
Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI).


Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR)

of current surface weather reported in a standard international


Axes of an aircraft

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).


Axial flow compressor

A type of compressor used in a
turbine engine in which the airflow through the compressor
is essentially linear. An axial-flow compressor is made up of
several stages of alternate rotors and stators. The compressor
ratio is determined by the decrease in area of the succeeding


Azimuth card

A card that may be set, gyroscopically
controlled, or driven by a remote compass.