Aviation Glossary

Air Ambulance
An airplane or helicopter used to transport sick or injured patients.

Airworthiness
A term used to describe the status of an aircraft with regard to its capability and readiness for safe flight (regulatory and mechanical).

Avionics
The electronic control systems used in airplanes, e.g. the autopilot and navigation systems.

Business Jet (or bizjet)
A jet aircraft designed for transporting small groups of people.

Commuter Airline
A regional, scheduled airline that provides air service to communities that may not have sufficient demand to attract full airline service.

Drone
See U.A.V.

FAA
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The government agency that oversees and regulates all U.S. civilian aviation, including air traffic control.

Flight Data Recorder (FDR)
A recording device that records relevant data during an aircraft’s flight. It is typically used to reconstruct crash events.

Fuselage
The main body of an aircraft that contains the cockpit, main cabin and cargo compartments. The wings, tail and engines are usually attached to it.

General Aviation
All flights not conducted by the military or commercial (scheduled) airlines.

General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA)
Passed in 1994, this act provides immunity to general aviation aircraft manufacturers for airplanes and helicopters that are over 18 years old.

HEMS
Helicopter Emergency Medical Services

Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)
The Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) defines IFR as “rules and regulations established by the FAA to govern flight under conditions in which flight by outside visual reference is not safe.” The IFR flight depends upon flying by reference to instruments in the flight deck, and navigation is accomplished by reference to electronic signals.

Instrument Rating
An instrument rating means that a pilot has undergone additional training, including instruction in meteorology and procedures specific to instrument flying, to become qualified to operate an airplane under adverse conditions such as darkness, bad weather and poor visibility.

Montreal Convention
A treaty created by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 1999 that went into effect in 2003 to replace the outdated Warsaw Convention of 1929. It sets exact provisions for the compensation of injured passengers whose flights either originate or are destined for an airport in another country.

NextGen
According to the FAA, NextGen represents the evolution from a ground-based system of air traffic control to a satellite-based system of air traffic management. NextGen will allow more aircraft to fly closer together more safely on more direct routes.

Part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations
The FAA safety regulations covering scheduled air carriers, which basically is airlines.

Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations
The FAA safety regulations covering operators of smaller aircraft, e.g. commuter and on-demand air carriers.

NTSB
The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) is an agency that investigates accidents in the aviation, highway, marine, pipeline, and railroad modes, as well as accidents related to the transportation of hazardous materials. The NTSB, which has no authority to regulate, fund, or be directly involved in the operation of any mode of transportation, conducts its investigations and makes recommendations from an objective viewpoint.

Offshore Helicopter
Helicopter used to transport crew and equipment to offshore energy locations.

Stall
Results when a wing exceeds its angle of attack, the airflow is disrupted and the wing no longer produces lift. A stall doesn’t mean that the engine(s) have stopped working, or that the aircraft has stopped moving.

Turbine
A turbine is a type of engine found on many large planes that uses compressed air to generate thrust to spin a metal shaft inside the motor.

Turboprop
The turbopropeller (a.k.a. turboprop) engine consists of a gas turbine engine driving a propeller. Turboprops are often used on regional and business aircraft.

U.A.V.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (a.k.a. drone). One that can navigate without onboard human control.

Visual Flight Rules (VFR)
A set of regulations governing flight during periods of generally good visibility and limited cloud cover. Aircraft flying under VFR are not required to be in contact with air traffic controllers and must keep visual reference to land or surface.

Windshear
A condition, dangerous to aircraft, in which the speed or direction of the wind changes abruptly. Can result in the loss of lift for an aircraft passing through it.